The vote counting continued Wednesday, but based on preliminary results it looked like the Democrats expanded their majorities in the state House and Senate.
Democrats say they plan to use their majority to improve healthcare, the economy and early voting.
Democrats gained at least seven seats in the house and will convene the session in January with a 98-53 majority. Democrats in the Senate were able to defend their 22 seats and capture two more from Republicans, giving them what looks like a 24-12 majority in the senate
“We ran really good candidates and everyone can talk about national factors and state issues, state rep races are special because a candidate who knows his or her hometown with ties can win in a purple district,” House Majority Leader Matt Ritter said.
There were some upsets for Democrats. Republicans unseated two freshman Democrats in eastern Connecticut and they lost outgoing Speaker Joe Aresimowicz's seat in Berlin, but gained the seat held by outgoing Minority Leader Themis Klarides in Derby.
“I think that the message that the Democratic Caucus members presented in the campaign resonated well with the people and I’m very happy about that,” Senate President Martin Looney said.
“When you’re in a deep blue state like we are, those are very difficult seats to hold onto,” outgoing Senate Republican Leader Len Fasano said.
What does an expanded majority mean for their agenda?
“The first thing we have to do is figure how to make session work with COVID and one of my first calls this morning was to Vinny Candelora, my counterpart, and Vinny and I have a great relationship. We have to figure this out. We have to be in session in 2021. We have a job to do and we will do it,” Ritter said.
COVID will be the number one issue, getting the economy back on track, and early voting.
“Healthcare is a major issue and if the federal government is not willing or is unable to strengthen the exchange and make it more affordable -- provide better options for individuals and small businesses -- individual states will have to act,” Ritter said.
Looney agreed that healthcare was a priority for the Democratic party.
“We think there ought to be other insurance options available, namely a public option. That we believe we could take the initiative at the state level to do,” Looney said.
Attempts to pass a government-sponsored public healthcare option failed two years ago after Gov. Ned Lamont sat down with insurance executives. Whether it stays on the agenda this year may depend on what happens in Washington.