This week’s election will send many new faces to the state legislature in January but likely keep the same political breakdown as in the current General Assembly. 

Only one contest, the 106th House District race, between Republican Mitch Bolinsky and Democrat Lisa Romano, is in a recount that must be completed by Wednesday, Nov. 14, according to the Secretary of the State’s office. 
 
The incoming legislature appears to have 22 Democrats and 14 Republicans in the Senate, and a 99-52 split in the House, with Democrats keeping the same majority margin.
 
There will be 29 first-time state legislators in 2013. Two state representatives will move from the House to the Senate: Andres Ayala (D-Bridgeport) and Clark Chapin (R-New Milford); and another incoming representative, Theresa Conroy (D-Seymour), will return to the House two years after losing to the legislator she now succeeds, Rep. Len Greene Jr (R-Seymour). 
 
Twenty-eight incumbent state legislators either decided not to run for reelection, or were defeated in primaries, creating open seats. Of the four open seats in the Senate, Democrats and Republicans took two each. In the House, Democrats took 17 of 24 open seats.
 
Despite the considerable time, money, and energy spent on state campaigns this year—even with 40 seats uncontested—there were few political surprises. In addition to the Conroy-Greene switch, other exceptions include:
  • Rep. Vicki Nardello (D-Prospect), co-chair of the Energy Committee, lost to Republican challenger Lezlye Zupkus  
  • State Sen. Len Suzio (R-Meriden) lost to Democrat Dante Bartolomeo
  • Rep. William Wadsworth (R-Farmington) lost to Democrat Michael Demicco
Leadership Changes
This week, Democrats in the House elected current House Majority Leader Brendan Sharkey (D-Hamden) as the next Speaker of the House. He will replace current Speaker Chris Donovan (D-Meriden), who chose not to run for reelection. The caucus also elected Rep. Joe Aresimowicz (D-Southington) the new majority leader, succeeding Rep. Sharkey in that post. House Republican Leader Larry Cafero (R-Norwalk) also won reelection and is expected to return in his leadership post.
 
Also winning reelection by voters this week— as well as fellow caucus members to continue in their leadership posts— were Senate President Pro Tem Donald Williams (D-Brooklyn) and Senate Majority Leader Martin Looney (D-New Haven).  Senate Minority Leader John McKinney (R-Fairfield) also won reelection.
 
Committees Next
With the selection of the new House Speaker, new committee chairs are also expected to be named. While it’s common for many current chairs to be reappointed, it has not always been the case.
Of particular interest is that, in addition to the opening in the Energy Committee leadership, not seeking reelection this year were Labor Committee Chairs Sen. Edith Prague (D-Columbia) and Rep. Zeke Zalaski (D-Southington); Finance Committee Chair Sen. Eileen Daily (D-Westbrook); Environment Committee Chair Rep. Dick Roy (D-Milford); and General Law Chair Rep. Joe Taborsak (D-Danbury). Sen. Andrew Roraback (R-Goshen), ranking member of the Finance and Environment committees, left his seat to run for Congress, and Labor Committee Vice Chair Sen. Ed Gomes (D-Bridgeport) was defeated in a Democratic primary.
 
Committee assignments and leadership decisions will be made later this year, close to the opening of the session on Jan. 9, 2013.
 
Challenges
 
Connecticut is known as the Land of Steady Habits, and that’s pretty much reflected in this year’s legislative outcomes. What is to be decided, however, is how those 151 state lawmakers will approach the key issues facing Connecticut— including a state budget that won’t balance despite record tax increases, and slow economic and job growth.
 
Businesspeople in Connecticut should now start to reach out to members of the 2013 General Assembly to help them understand the challenges facing employers and how the legislature and policymakers can help improve the state’s economy and business climate.
 
For more information, contact CBIA’s Bonnie Stewart at 860.244.1925 or bonnie.stewart@cbia.com.