It’s a washout for Republicans, a signal victory for Democrats and, some disgruntled Republicans will say, their abettors in Connecticut’s left-leaning media. The Hartford Courant editorial board held their collective noses this year and gave their prized endorsement to Oz Griebel, the anti-party gubernatorial candidate of the moment. Griebel swept up a little less than 4 percent of the vote tally.
Once again, Democrat chestnuts were pulled from the fire by the larger Democrat controlled cities in the state and college students at Yale and UConn, many of whom are transients who will not be making their homes in the state after they receive their sheepskins. These voters will not befoul their own nests.
The Democratic ploy – make the campaign about President Trump’s delinquencies – worked remarkably well in a state in which Democrat voters have for years held a huge margin in party registration.
Here and there, grumblers in the media rained on the Democrat parade. Chris Powell, the former managing editor of the Journal Inquirer newspaper, now a free-lance Cassandra whose column continues to appear in the JI and other media venues, noted “Five days before the election Lamont, the Democratic nominee, told a rally of government employee union members in New Britain, 'We're going to be fighting for you for the next four years.'
Lamont's remark recalled Gov. Dannel Malloy's infamous if honest declaration to a rally of government employee union members at the state Capitol four years ago: ‘I am your servant.’” And Powell asked pointedly, “How will the new servant of the unions deliver to them after first pledging to raise taxes, then pledging not to, and then, hours before the election, dismissing a radio interviewer's question about taxes with a ‘no comment,’ as if that answer was not as arrogant as anything ever uttered by his ignorant Republican rival?”
The “ignorant Republican rival,” gubernatorial nominee Bob Stefanowski, was almost certainly right about Connecticut’s next governor when he said repeatedly during his campaign that a Governor Lamont will raise taxes and continue the warm relationship with Connecticut's employee unions that was such a prominent feature of the Malloy administration.
So then, where do we go from here? We go back to the future.
The Republican flank of the General Assembly has been effectively neutered by losses in a Senate that had been tied at 18 -18. Rep. Joe Aresimowicz eked out a narrow win to retain his post as speaker of the House. Aresimowicz is employed by a union and cannot be expected to befoul his own nest. Sen. Martin Looney, a leftist born and bred in New Haven, will continue to preside over the Senate as president pro tem. “I’m raring to go with the excitement of having a majority again,”Looney said in an interview with the New Haven Independent. As usual, these door keepers will keep the doors shut to Republican leaders in both chambers. They will not entertain Republican budgets or Republican ideas, an eerie repeat of the correlation of forces that followed Malloy’s first gubernatorial victory, in 2011.
Lamont, Looney and Aresimowicz may now proceed along their merry way as if the Malloy years, throbbing with union favorable contracts, business flight, the largest tax increase of any administration in state history, shouts from outside the state commentators that Connecticut -- whose cup runneth over with taxes, regulations and accelerated spending, along with repeated budget deficits – was simply a bad daydream. Night is coming on, with its soft murmurings of a future prosperity.
Yale and UConn graduates, who vote and run, will figure it all out soon enough. They will not have to live in the tax-prone, progressive nest they have helped to build here in the land of steady habits.
Don Pesci is an essayist based in Vernon, Conn.