Local Party Control Shifts Across CT After Municipal Elections

Local Party Control Shifts Across CT After Municipal Elections

CT Post, November 16, 2017

By Neil Vigdor

Connecticut’s reputation as a blue state belies the political landscape at the city and town level, where it’s the color purple.

There are nearly as many blue municipalities as red ones after last week’s surge by Democrats in local races, the first since Donald Trump’s election as president.

Republicans now control 86 towns and cities, down from 99, while Democrats hold the top office in 79 communities, up from 66, according to a Hearst Connecticut Media analysis. The total includes municipalities where the majority party on the town council picks one of its own as mayor or sets the direction of the town.

“It’s a hell of a difference from where it was,” said Nick Balletto, chairman of the Connecticut Democrats. “I think there’s a huge significance to the changing map.”

The narrow margin resembles the delicate balance of power in the Legislature, where Republicans have closed the gap to a seven-seat deficit in the House and an 18 to 18 split in the Senate.

It likely portends the competitiveness of what political handicappers say is a toss-up race for governor in 2018, when unpopular incumbent Dannel P. Malloy leaves office.

Power struggle back to top

Last week’s election resulted in a shift in control for 25 municipalities — 19 going blue and six turning red.

Switched to Democratic

Bolton

Clinton

Coventry

Farmington

Glastonbury

Griswold

Groton

Guilford

Lyme

Newtown

New Fairfield

Pomfret

Sherman

South Windsor

Southington

Trumbull

Weston

Wethersfield

Switched to Republican

Derby

Killingly

Montville

New Milford

Norwich

Putnam

“I think it’s a purple race, if you will,” said Gary Rose, chairman of the Department of Government, Politics and Global Studies at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield. “Right now, it’s wide open. I don’t see anybody breaking out of the pack yet.”

State GOP Chairman J.R. Romano downplayed the leftward shift in the municipal elections, saying that local issues determined the outcomes.