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Republican flips Connecticut state Senate seat

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A Republican investment analyst on Tuesday won a special election to fill a vacant seat in the Connecticut state Senate, the first state legislative seat to flip parties in the seven months since President Biden took office.

Ryan Fazio, 31, claimed victory late Tuesday in Connecticut’s 36th Legislative District, which opened when state Sen. Alex Kasser (D) resigned her seat earlier this year.

Almost completed returns showed Fazio edging Alexis Gevanter (D), a first-time candidate and gun control advocate, by just under 500 votes, 50.1 percent to 47.6 percent.

A third candidate, running as an independent, pulled 408 votes, or about 2.3 percent.

Fazio will join a Republican conference stuck in a deep minority in Hartford: Democrats hold 23 of 36 seats.

The district Fazio will represent is no deep-blue bastion: Kasser, who won two terms in office before stepping down, was the first Democrat to hold the seat — based in wealthy Greenwich, Stamford and New Canaan — since Franklin Roosevelt’s administration.

Fazio narrowly lost his first bid for office when he challenged Kasser in 2020, by about a 3-point margin.

But his is the type of suburban district that swung hard against former President Trump, both in 2016 and 2020: After Mitt Romney carried the district for Republicans in 2012, Hillary Clinton won the area by 18 points five years ago, and Biden carried it by 25 points last year.

“I think the recipe, ultimately, for statewide victory for Republicans is to continue to do better in places like the Naugatuck Valley and eastern Connecticut but also stop the losses or reverse the losses in lower Fairfield County,” Fazio told the CT Mirror. “This is not a Connecticut-specific trend, this is a national trend.”

Fazio is likely to be held up as an example of the GOP’s momentum as the midterm election season begins, and as voters in states like Virginia and New Jersey prepare to hit the polls this year. Both Democrats and Republicans have touted their wins in special elections, especially for seats once held by the other side.

Fazio’s “victory demonstrates that the people of Connecticut are sick and tired of the radical tax and spend agenda coming from Democrats in Hartford and in Washington, D.C.,” said Dee Duncan, who heads the Republican State Leadership Committee. “They’re looking for common-sense leaders who will champion conservative policies that will revive the economy, create jobs, reduce regulations, lower taxes and keep families safe.”

The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (DLCC) had spotlighted Gevanter in emails to supporters in recent weeks. In one fundraising pitch sent over the weekend, they warned that losing the seat could be a harbinger of tough times to come.

“If we lose districts like this, ALL of our gains since 2018 could be at risk,” the DLCC wrote in the Sunday email.

Democrats dismissed the results as a low-turnout affair that would bear little resemblance to the political realities of the forthcoming year.
 
“This was a low turnout special election with a spoiler candidate siphoning votes from the Democratic candidate in the race,” DLCC spokesperson Christina Polizzi said, though Fazio took an outright majority. “Democrats retain a supermajority in the Connecticut state Senate. Fazio’s tenure in the Senate will be a short one.”
Tags Connecticut Donald Trump Hillary Clinton Joe Biden Mitt Romney Ryan Fazio State Senate

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