Democrats win big — including governor's mansion

Democrat Will Haskell hugs a supporter after beating Republican incumbent Toni Boucher during a post election party at the Little Barn in Westport on Tuesday night. — Christian Abraham/Hearst Connecticut Media
Democrat Will Haskell hugs a supporter after beating Republican incumbent Toni Boucher during a post election party at the Little Barn in Westport on Tuesday night. — Christian Abraham/Hearst Connecticut Media

Wilton picked some winners and losers in an election that saw Democrats win top state seats and some local races.

The gubernatorial race wasn’t conceded until the day after the election on Wednesday morning with Democrat Ned Lamont unofficially declared the next governor of Connecticut.

As of the Bulletin’s press deadline on Wednesday, Lamont had 46.57% of the vote while Republican Bob Stefanowski had 45.86%. Unaffiliated candidate Oz Griebel took 3.99%.

Wilton went with Stefanowski who initially called for a hearing to determine the status of some votes, but later changed his mind and conceded the race. “A few moments ago, I called Ned Lamont to concede the race for governor and congratulate him on a hard-fought victory,” Stefanowski said in a statement. “I wish both Ned and the state of Connecticut success over these next four years.”

Democrats held control of the state House and regained the majority of the state Senate. In a stunning upset on Tuesday night, Will Haskell, a 22-year-old Democrat from New Canaan, defeated longtime Republican incumbent Toni Boucher for the 26th District Senate seat which includes Wilton, Redding, Ridgefield, Westport and parts of Bethel, New Canaan and Weston. While Boucher took her hometown of Wilton, it was not enough to put her over the top.

Haskell ran a high-profile, door-to-door campaign to gain voter familiarity. He said his top three priorities will be gun violence, paid family leave, and transportation funding.

Boucher, 68, was running for a sixth term. During the election, she touted her experience as the Senate’s chief deputy majority leader, co-chair of the Transportation and Education committees, and vice chair of the Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee.

Republican incumbent Gail Lavielle fared better. She won a close race against Democratic challenger Stephanie Thomas to maintain her seat as Wilton’s representative in the state House for the 143rd District.

“I am very grateful for the support of my constituents. It was apparently an election of partisan sentiments and I hope that having won, that my constituents looked beyond that to vote for me. I am humbled and recognize their perspicacity and willingness to consider my work on their behalf on its merits,” Lavielle said.

In the Norwalk-Wilton probate judge race, Democrat Doug Stern bested Republican Larry Cafero. Stern narrowly beat Cafero in Wilton. The seat was open following the retirement of Judge Anthony J. DePanfilis, a Republican.

Upon hearing news that he had won the race, Stern said, “I’m just very happy and proud and very grateful to the citizens of Norwalk and Wilton. It is very humbling and I promise to do a good job.”

Democrats took other top state offices, with one race still not officially called as of Wednesday morning.

Incumbent Democratic Secretary of the State Denise Merrill turned back the challenge of Republican Susan Chapman, 798,237 votes to 573,047.

Comptroller Kevin Lembo won another term, the Democratic incumbent finishing with 692,177 votes, more than 100,000 above Republican Kurt Miller (590,263).

Democrats held onto the state treasurer’s office, being vacated by Denise Nappier. Democratic candidate Shawn Wood finished with 713,011 votes, while Republican Thad Gray earned 593,338.

As of Wednesday morning, the state race not yet called was for attorney general. Democrat William Tong had 681,301 votes, around 50%, with Hatfield at 624,465 votes. Tong was projected to win.

In other races, U.S. Sen. Christopher Murphy easily defeated Republican rival Matthew Corey to win a second term. The Democratic incumbent finished with 58.4% of the vote, while Corey was around 40.5%. The Associated Press called the race immediately after polls closed at 8 p.m.

U.S. Rep. Jim Himes easily turned back challenger Harry Arora to win a sixth term in Congress. The Democratic incumbent, first elected in 2008, finished with 60.69% of the vote, while the Republican newcomer was around 39%. Himes won a majority of Wilton’s votes.

All vote tallies are unofficial and from the secretary of the state.

Tom Dubin, chair of the Wilton Democratic Town Committee, called the election a “tremendous night for Democrats.”

“Wilton played a major role in that success. We have helped Democrats retain control of Hartford, and have helped return a Democratic majority to the state Senate with Will Haskell’s stunning victory over Toni Boucher,” Dubin said in a statement.

He complimented Bill Lalor and the Republican Town Committee for running energetic campaigns. “Although we may disagree on several policy matters, we thank them for being an important part of what makes Wilton a wonderful town. Wilton Democrats also thank Toni Boucher for her years of energetic service to Wilton, the 26th District, and Connecticut.”

Two amendments to the state constitution were approved by landslide margins Tuesday.

Voters backed a requirement that money earmarked for the transportation fund be restricted to such uses by a margin that stood at 89% to 11% just before midnight.

The state also must hold hearings on any sale of publicly owned land after that measure passed by a margin of 84% to 16%.

Voter turnout was a record high in the state for a midterm election, with 42% of registered voters casting ballots by Tuesday evening, according to the secretary of the state’s office. In Wilton, voter turnout was even higher with 72.27% of eligible voters casting ballots. In the 2014 gubernatorial election, Wilton had a 61% turnout.