Elections Government

Democrats Sweep West Hartford in 2016 Election

West Hartford's legislative delegation will include (from left) newcomer Derek Slap and incumbents Andy Fleischmann, Beth Bye, and Joe Verrengia. Photo credit: Ronni Newton
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[Updated with official votes] Democratic candidates on the ticket in West Hartford won State Senate and all three State House seats as well as all other state and national positions.

West Hartford's legislative delegation will include (from left) newcomer Derek Slap and incumbents Andy Fleischmann, Beth Bye, and Joe Verrengia. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

West Hartford’s legislative delegation will include (from left) newcomer Derek Slap and incumbents Andy Fleischmann, Beth Bye, and Joe Verrengia. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

By Ronni Newton

The atmosphere at the American Legion in West Hartford was festive as West Hartford Democrats celebrated victory from the top to the bottom of the ticket, although the mood was tempered a bit as the crowd watched other races throughout the state and the nation.

“I’m thrilled,” West Hartford Democratic Town Committee Chairman Jon Slifka said. “This was going to be a strange election from top to bottom and we really didn’t know what to expect but we had the utmost confidence in our candidates particularly the incumbents but absolutely we had the confidence in Derek and he absolutely delivered and West Hartford delivered in the way we expected it to, and they always do.”

Republican Town Chairman Dennis Swanton said he was disappointed. “With the way the state’s going right now it’s amazing that the Democrats still get another  chance.” Swanton said he thought that the Republicans ran three great candidates who put their points out there.

“We need to get our message out better because we have a great message for the state. We need to be fiscally responsible and we need to understand where our funds are going,” Swanton said. “The top of the ticket did not help us.”

West Hartford Democrats cheer for local candidates who were elected Tuesday night. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

West Hartford Democrats cheer for local candidates who were elected Tuesday night. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

West Hartford incumbents winning reelection include State Sen. Beth Bye, who won the 5th district over challenger Mark Merritt by a large margin, garnering 58.4 percent of the vote. The district includes most of Farmington, part of Bloomfield, and all of Burlington, as well as all of West Hartford.

Bye said that Democrats win in West Hartford because the community is incredibly well run by Democrats. “We have an incredibly informed electorate so when you win here you earn it because people know what you’re doing.”

“I think we ran a great campaign,” Merritt said. “The voters spoke. There were a lot of people who voted for us … that recognize that we need some change in our state to keep people here.” He said he thinks the vote has sent a message to Hartford that some change is needed. As a first time candidate, Merritt said he found the process invigorating, and would definitely run for office again. “You have not see the last of Mark here,” he said.

In the 18th State House district, Andy Fleischmann won reelection with 63.6 percent of the vote over Republican challenger Rob Levine.

“I’m very excited, and the truth is what matters what you do in public office,” Fleischmann said. “My opponent worked very hard and my hats off to him for running a very vigorous campaign.”

The 19th district seat was up for grabs after Brian Becker decided not to seek reelection. Republican Town Council member Chris Barnes challenged newcomer Derek Slap in the district that includes parts of Avon and Farmington. That race was closest of all of the local contest, with Slap winning with about 54 percent of the vote.

Slap said he was overjoyed. “We face so many challenges as a state but I’m really excited to tackle them in a bipartisan way. After today the D’s and the R’s come off and we all work together.”

Barnes said he thought he ran a great campaign and wasn’t disappointed by the effort to close the vote total – something very difficult to do in a state that did not favor the top of the ticket. “Republicans are outnumbered by Democrats in our town by a three-to-one margin … at the end of the day it wasn’t enough to get it done.”

With a year remaining in his term on the Town Council, and after spending every day of the past six months campaigning, Barnes said he doesn’t know if he will run again. “The state’s going to continue to have problems for the next 10-20 years, and I don’t think we’re going to be sending someone to Hartford who can address those issues.”

In the 20th district, Democrat Joe Verrengia ran unopposed, as did Probate Judge Owen Eagan whose real race was the Democratic primary in August.

Registrars of Voters were also elected but because each party has a registrar, both Republican Beth Kyle and Democrat Gail Crockett were elected.

Statewide and national races were also wins for the Democrats in West Hartford. Incumbent U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal and U.S. Rep. John Larson won big in West Hartford, and both won their seats as well.

The presidential race was too close to call late Tuesday night on a national level, but more than 70 percent of West Hartford voters cast their votes for the Clinton/Kaine ticket.

OFFICIAL RESULTS 

Race Votes 
State Senate (incl. Farmington, Bloomfield, and Burlington)
Beth Bye (D) 28,960 (58.7%)
Mark Merritt (R) 20,339 (41.3%)
State Representatives
District 18
Andrew Fleischmann (D)  7,390 (64.4%)
Robert Levine (R)  4,088 (35.6%)
District 19 (incl. Avon and Farmington)
Derek Slap (D)  7,594 (54.5%)
Christopher Barnes (R)  6,352 (45.5%)
District 20
Joseph Verrengia (unopposed)  8,034 (100%)
U.S. House (West Hartford Results)
John Larson (D) 22,446 (68.9%)
Matthew Corey (R)  9,044 (28.2%)
S. Michael DeRosa (G) 623 (1.9%)
 U.S. Senate (West Hartford Results)
Richard Blumenthal (D) 23,625 (72.3%)
Dan Carter (R) 8,313(25.5%)
Richard Lion (L) 324 (1%)
Jeffery Russell (G) 371 (1.1%)
President/Vice President (West Hartford Results)
Clinton/Kaine (D) 23,478 (71.4%)
Trump/Pence (R) 7,915 (24.1%)
Johnson/Weld (L) 980 (3.0%)
Stein/Baraka (G) 437 (1.3%)
Probate Judge
Owen Eagan (unopposed) 24,827
Registrar of Voters (both are elected)
 Gail Crockett 19,489
 Beth Kyle 11,176

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