State Rep. Andres Ayala is poised to become the first Latino member of the Connecticut State Senate after besting two veteran African-American politicians in a three-way primary for the 23rd Senate District democratic nomination. It will be the first time since the State Senate was formed in 1818 that a Latino will hold a seat in that chamber.
Ayala, a Latino state representative for three terms, had to defeat the incumbent, state Sen. Edward Gomes, who was denied the nomination by his party; and former state Sen. Ernest Newton II, who was convicted for taking bribes while in office and sought political redemption by seeking his old seat back.
At his campaign headquarters on Tuesday night, Ayala told his cheering supporters, according to the Connecticut Post, “We want a better Bridgeport. We need a better Bridgeport.”
Ayala had the backing of Mayor Bill Finch in Bridgeport while Gomes was heavily backed by the State Senate Democrat leadership who did not want Newton to return to his old seat. Their efforts, which included phone banking for Gomes on Election Day, did nothing to help him avoid a third-place finish.
Ayala will now square off in the general election on Nov. 6 against Republican Cazimir “Cas” Mizera of Stratford. In addition to an overwhelming Democratic registration, Ayala also has the advantage of being from Bridgeport, which makes up a sizable portion of the district.
If he turns back that challenge, Ayala will join the 36-seat state senate and represent about 94,000 people. Assuming Democrats maintain control of that chamber – and no change is currently anticipated – Ayala will also become Senate chair of a legislative committee.
Ayala is used to being the first Latino to hold a prominent political post. In 2003, he was elected to finish off the term of the prior Council President. Ayala became the first Latino in the City of Bridgeport to hold this position. According to his legislative bio, to achieve the office of President of the Council, he built his support from the Black /Latino Caucus of which he had served as chairman for two years. Six months later, once the term was over, Ayala was able to receive the support needed to maintain his position as Council President.
Where his political future lies in the State Senate is unknown at this point. Gomes was Senate chair of the relatively minor Housing committee and one of four Deputy Majority Leaders in the Senate. (Only four Democratic senators do not hold some kind of caucus leadership role.) Committee assignments will not be announced until December.
Ayala holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration, a Master’s Degree in Education and works for the Bridgeport Board of Education as a Social Studies instructor. As an instructor at Bassick High School, Andres served as the Aspira Club Advisor where he has been very instrumental in inspiring young Latino students to fulfill their career and future aspirations.
In addition to being elected State Representative for the 128th District in 2006, Ayala represented the 137th Common Council District in the City of Bridgeport for five terms. As a Councilman for the City of Bridgeport, he served as chairman of the Economic Development Committee and Chairman of the Budget Committee.