HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — All five incumbent U.S. representatives won reelection in Connecticut, completing a sweep for Democrats in a state that has not sent a Republican to Congress in over a decade.
U.S. Rep. Rosa Delauro, the longest-serving member of Connecticut’s delegation to Washington, fended off an aggressive challenge by political newcomer Margaret Streicker, a Republican real estate executive from Milford. DeLauro, who has represented the district in south-central Connecticut since 1991, has been critical of the Trump administration’s efforts to address COVID-19, accusing the president of lying to Americans about the seriousness of the virus.
Also victorious were incumbent U.S. Reps. John Larson, Jim Himes, Joe Courtney and Jahana Hayes.
This year’s election in Connecticut was marked by historic numbers of absentee ballots. Lawmakers temporarily changed the state’s strict rules for voting by absentee ballot to allow concerns about COVID-19 an acceptable reason. At least 28% of the state’s 2.3 million voters had already cast their ballots before the doors opened at polling places on Tuesday morning.
Former Vice President Joe Biden defeated President Donald Trump in the state, and Democrats were confident they had significantly expanded the number of seats they hold in the General Assembly.
In the Senate, where Democrats currently hold a 22-14 advantage, Democrat Sen. Gennaro Bizzarro, R-New Britain, lost to state Rep. Rick Lopes. D-New Britain. Outgoing Senate Republican Leader Len Fasano said Republican Sen. George Logan had also lost, but The Associated Press has not yet called his race.
“Republicans in Connecticut faced enormous hurdles this year in such a blue state. We held on in many races when all the odds were stacked against us, it’s a testament to how hard all our candidates worked,” Fasano said.
Connecticut’s congressional delegation has been all Democratic since former Republican U.S. Rep. Chris Shays lost a reelection bid in 2008.
Hayes, a former national Teacher of the Year, won a second term by defeating Republican David X. Sullivan, a former federal prosecutor in the northwestern Connecticut district. She contracted COVID-19 in September and said her family’s experience with the virus helped her see firsthand the shortcomings of the national response, including a lack of available testing.
Sullivan pitched himself as a law-and-order candidate and portrayed Hayes as being out-of-touch politically with the district in northwest Connecticut. He posted a statement offering his congratulations to Hayes and urging people to “work together” as the state and nation face many challenges.
Courtney defeated Republican Justin Anderson to win an eighth term in Congress. In an eastern Connecticut district that has become more politically conservative in recent years, Courtney has focused on less partisan issues such as support for the Electric Boat shipyard in Groton and help for homeowners with crumbling concrete foundations.
Larson defeated Republican Mary Fay, a member of the West Hartford Town Council who was coached by the congressman when he was a high school basketball coach.
In the effort to oust DeLauro, Streicker raised nearly $1.4 million as of Oct. 14, $1 million of it of her own. She spent hundreds of thousands of dollars of that money on TV ads, many sharply critical of DeLauro, who raised nearly $1.7 million and ran TV ads for the first time in about two decades.
“I believe the people of the 3rd district know I will fight for them and I’m not afraid of a fight,” DeLauro told reporters at the Shubert Theatre in New Haven.
Himes declared victory about 45 minutes after the polls closed Tuesday, thanking supporters at a post-election event and pledging to help “restitch our civic life,” referring to the acrimony in American politics. Himes faced a challenge from Republican Jonathan Riddle.
As of Tuesday, 658,922 absentee ballots had been filled out and returned to town and city clerks, a figure that will likely increase. That’s in contrast to the 129,480 absentee ballots that were received statewide in the 2016 presidential election. Voters were still allowed to submit ballots up until 8 p.m. on Tuesday.