A nationally significant congressional contest, a controversial and costly gubernatorial rematch and races for the United States Senate and General Assembly come to an end today as voters head to the polls in Connecticut.
Turnout among the 2.2 million active voters is expected to top the 65% mark of four years ago, when Democrat Ned Lamont won an open gubernatorial race against Republican Bob Stefanowski and the Democrats regained solid control of the General Assembly.
“I think there will be a strong turnout. That’s how I feel going around the state,” said U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat seeking his third term, opposed by Republican Leora Levy. This is a report shared by the Republicans.
Polling stations open at 6 a.m. and close at 8 p.m.
Registered voters can check their registration status and find their polling place on the state’s registration search tool. Not registered? Connecticut allows same-day check-in at designated locations in each city.
Election officials said 77% of the 160,287 mail-in ballots requested by voters were returned Monday. Ballots must be delivered by 8 p.m., and voters who mailed or dropped off their ballot can check if it was received with the search tool.
On the right side of each ballot is a statewide referendum question: Should the state constitution be amended to allow the General Assembly to call for an early vote?
The race for governor
Inflation, abortion, and crime have been issues at every level, in contests for General Assembly, Congress, and Governor.
Lamont and Stefanowski are in a three-way race with Connecticut Independent Party candidate Rob Hotaling. He is a banking executive with no elective experience.
Connecticut voters haven’t unseated a governor since 1954, and every public poll shows Lamont with a comfortable lead, but Stefanowski insisted Monday, “We’re feeling the momentum.”
“I’m excited,” Lamont told a crowd in Waterbury on Monday, then joked, “Knowing there’s one day left that excites me.”
Stefanowski attacked Lamont on inflation, crime and taxes.
During the election campaign, he accused the governor of hoarding billions in excess funds as inflation-hit residents choose between food, fuel oil and prescriptions. Stefanowski has pledged to repeal parts of a police accountability law passed in the wake of the murder of George Floyd, and he has pledged not to require COVID vaccinations for school children.
He also pledged to leave Connecticut’s law allowing abortion until viability unchanged. In a recent interview, he said he thought abortion should be limited to the first trimester, but later said he misspoke on the matter.
Lamont campaigned primarily on his record of managing the state budget, reducing debt, and reversing the state’s reputation as unfriendly to business.
During his first term, Connecticut’s finances went from alarming deficits to sizable surpluses, boosted by increased tax revenues and federal aid. Lamont has pledged to uphold Connecticut’s abortion laws and said he sees no reason to mandate COVID vaccinations for children, whom he sees as likely to become closer to annual vaccinations against flu. He struck an optimistic tone throughout the campaign, saying Connecticut find his “mojo” and pointing to starting and expanding new businesses.
A Quinnipiac University poll of likely voters released Oct. 24 showed Lamont had a 15-point lead over Stefanowski (56% to 41%) heading into Election Day. A WTNH/The Hill/Emerson College poll on Oct. 25 gave Lamont an 11-point lead over his Republican challenger, 52% to 41%. Independent candidate Rob Hotaling had around 1% support from likely voters in that poll, while just over 5% were undecided.
Connecticut hasn’t had a double-digit victory in a gubernatorial race since 2006, when Governor M. Jodi Rell won a full term by landslide after taking office in 2004 after the resignation of the Republican John G. Rowland, who was convicted on federal corruption charges.
Lamont outspent Stefanowski by nearly 2-to-1 through Oct. 30. Lamont spent $21.7 million, while Stefanowski spent $12.2 million.
US Senate: Blumenthal v. Levy
Blumenthal, a Democrat who won the seat in 2010 after two decades as attorney general, faces Levy, the surprise winner of a three-way Republican primary after her endorsement by Donald J. Trump.
Levy ran as an “America first” candidate. Former President Donald Trump endorsed her in the August 4 race, but she has since pointed out that Trump is “not on the ballot.”
“I was honored to have his support. He and I completely agree on the policy, but I am Leora Levy. … Trump is not on the ballot. Leora Levy is,” she said, “And if there’s a president’s name on the ballot, it’s Joe Biden, because of his failed policies.”
A proponent of abortion rights in 2012 and a critic of Trump in 2016, Levy has since repudiated both positions. She now proclaims herself opposed to any abortion, except in cases where a pregnancy is the consequence of rape or endangers the life of the pregnant person.
Levy, who emigrated as a young child with his parents from Cuba, opposed granting permanent legal status to the 800,000 young adults living in legal limbo for a decade under DACA, l Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.
She said she would support the arming of teachers, if they are trained.
Blumenthal’s voting record and legislative history were the centerpieces of his campaign for a third term in the Senate.
He said he believes the decision to terminate a pregnancy should be made between a patient and a doctor and that he would support codifying federal abortion protections, a bill that has stalled. in the divided Senate.
During a debate earlier this month, Blumenthal said he wanted to continue working to reduce energy prices ahead of the winter months, citing efforts to seek additional funding for the program. energy aid for low-income households, also known as LIHEAP. He also said he urged President Joe Biden to release more barrels from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to help cut costs.
A poll by WTNH/The Hill/Emerson College showed Blumenthal with a 13-point lead over Levy. The Quinnipiac poll places Blumenthal 15 points ahead of his opponent.
US House: The five seats, one in the national spotlight
Incumbents of Connecticut’s five U.S. House of Representatives seats are seeking re-election.
A national spotlight is on the 5e District. Republican George Logan is trying to unseat Representative Jahana Hayes, a two-term Democrat, and become the first Republican to win a Connecticut congressional seat since 2006 and help the GOP win back the House.
The race basically came down to experience versus change.
Hayes defended his four years in office hoping to build on legislation recently passed by Democrats. Logan, meanwhile, had pledged to “provide an alternative to the status quo” and give Republicans representation in Congress for the first time here in more than a decade.
Targeting the 5th district is part of the National Republicans’ broader strategy to challenge deep-blue New England districts in a year when they could make enough gains to overturn congressional control. Republicans have been out of power in the US House since 2019.
Connecticut General Assembly and Principal Offices
Voters will also vote for the State House and Senate races. Thirty legislators vacated their seats and candidates from 42 constituencies ran unopposed.
The statewide constitutional positions of Treasurer, Secretary of State, Comptroller and Attorney General will also be decided in this election.
The Judiciary Department has arranged for Superior Court Judge Cesar Noble to be available until the polls close at 8 p.m. in the event of allegations of election irregularities. Noble sits in Superior Court in Hartford, where any state election claim would have to be filed because the likely defendant, the office of the Secretary of State, is located in Hartford.
There were two recent elections that ended in state court – one involving voting issues in Bridgeport and another in which a judge ordered voting sites in Hartford to remain open for half an hour. further due to the delayed opening of several polling stations where the workers didn’t get the voter registration lists on time.
As of Monday, 123,223 mail-in ballots had been returned to the Secretary of State’s office. In 2018, the last gubernatorial election year, approximately 88,000 mail-in ballots were returned.
Reporting by CT Mirror staff writers Mark Pazniokas, Lisa Hagen and Dave Altimari is included in this story.