Party Primaries: Winners, Losers, Questions

Issues & Policies

Yesterday’s primaries saw a number of General Assembly incumbents lose bids for their party’s nomination, with real implications for next year’s legislative session.
Among the high profile results: House Speaker Chris Donovan’s loss to former state representative Elizabeth Esty in the battle for the Democrat nomination for the 5th U.S. House District race. 
Donovan’s decision to run for Congress already meant the House would have a new Speaker next January. House Majority Leader J. Brendan Sharkey (D-Hamden) was expected to succeed Donovan, whose immediate political future now appears unclear.
In Bridgeport, Senator Edwin Gomes finished third in a three-way primary for the Democrat nomination for the 23rd Senate District. Three-term state representative Andres Ayala, Jr. won the primary, beating Gomes and former state senator Ernest Newton.
Leadership Openings
Gomes, who succeeded Newton in 2005 after the latter was convicted of corruption and went to prison, won just 20 percent of the primary vote. Ayala took 49 percent of the vote, while Newton–the party’s endorsed candidate–won 31 percent.
The primary result leaves leadership of the General Assembly’s all-important Labor and Public Employees Committee wide open.
Gomes is the current co-chair of the legislature’s Housing Committee. Should the Democrats retain control of the Senate, he was the favorite to assume the Labor Committee co-chair position left open when veteran lawmaker Edith Prague (D-Columbia) decided not to seek re-election to the Senate.
The other co-chair, Representative Bruce “Zeke” Zalaski (D-Southington), also decided not to seek re-election to the House this year.
Numerous bills impacting the state’s business community orginate in the Labor Committee.
In recent sessions, the committee approved mandatory paid sick leave, increases to the minimum wage, captive audience (also known as the employer gag bill), and changes to the state’s workers compensation and unemployment insurance systems.
Another committee member, Representative Louis Esposito, Jr. (D-West Haven), faces a recount in his primary race for the 116th House District nomination against challenger David Forsyth. Esposito holds a razor-thin 10-vote lead.
Democrat Senator Eileen Dailey’s decision not seek re-election to her 33rd District Senate seat left an opening for co-chair of the Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee
First-term state Representative James Crawford (D-Westbrook) won the Democrat primary for Dailey’s old seat, defeating former East Haddam selectman Mary Ellen Klinck. 
In the Hartford-based 6th House District, two-term Representative Hector Robles lost the Democrat primary to retired schoolteacher Edwin Vargas, Jr. Robles served on the Finance, General Law, and Safety committees.
Two-term Representative Kathy Tallarita (D-Enfield) lost the 58th House District Democrat primary to challenger David Alexander, a Marine Corps reservist. Tallarita served on the Aging, Finance, General Law, and Legislative Management committees.
And veteran union leader Leo Canty faces a recount against political newcomer Brandon McGee in his primary bid for the Democrat nomination for the 5th state House District.
With all precincts reporting, Canty and McGee were deadlocked at 774 votes apiece, with the third candidate, Windsor mayor Donald Trinks, at 267 votes.
CBIA’s Election 2012 features all the primary results and candidate information, the latest campaign news, and other resources to help you make your choices this fall.


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