Tammy Exum of West Hartford Wins 19th District State House Seat

19th District State Rep.-Elect Tammy Exum at her victory party Tuesday night. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Democrat Tammy Exum of West Hartford won the April 16 special election for the 19th State House District seat vacated by Derek Slap earlier this year.

By Ronni Newton

West Hartford Democrat Tammy Exum won an overwhelming share of the vote in Tuesday’s special election in the 19th State House District, defeating Bob Margolis of Avon for the seat that was vacated by Derek Slap in February.

Slap, who lives in West Hartford and previously represented the district that includes portions of West Hartford, Avon, and Farmington, won election to the State Senate’s 5th District in a Feb. 26 special election to fill the seat left vacant when Beth Bye was named commissioner of the Office of Early Childhood.

According to unofficial results reported through the Secretary of State’s office for all precincts, Exum, a former teacher and former vice chair of the West Hartford Board of Education, received 2,407 votes. Margolis, whose name appeared on the line for both the Republican and Independent parties, received a total of 1,319 votes.

In Avon, reported unofficial results indicated a tie – with 364 votes for each candidate. Margolis won in Farmington, 106-90, but Exum won in West Hartford by more than a 2-to-1 margin, 1,953 to 849, according to the Secretary of State’s website.

Total turnout was 21.26 percent.

“I am so humbled and grateful for this opportunity and the trust [that victory] says people have in me to be their voice at the Capitol,” Exum said as she celebrated with family, friends, and supporters at The Butterfly Restaurant in West Hartford after the results were tallied.

“I am blown away,” said Exum, expressing thanks to all of her supporters.

U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz, and former Lt. Gov. and current Democratic Party Chair Nancy Wyman were among those who called to congratulate Exum on her victory.

Margolis also called Exum, and she said she very much appreciated his call and well wishes.

“Unfortunately the numbers tonight didn’t work out,” Margolis told We-Ha.com in a phone interview.

“I think we ran as hard, as fair, and as good a race as we could,” Margolis said.

Margolis said that when he called Exum, “I absolutely, sincerely wished her the best, that she will know what’s best for the district. … I hope it works out.”

Many people in the 19th District, and in Connecticut, are unhappy with the way taxes are headed, Margolis said. “I hope Tammy and the other Democrats respond.”

Margolis said he is “absolutely not” running for elected office again. As a political newbie, he said this campaign was in completely uncharted waters.

Exum is not sure when she will be sworn in, but said that she has already been told to report to work on Tuesday at 10 a.m.

“I am thrilled by this opportunity,” said Exum. In beginning what she called “a new and very interesting journey,” Exum said that she is looking forward to being the voice of the district’s three towns.

“I plan to do the very best to represent them,” she said.

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