The big news of Election Day was not one but two Latinos were historically elected to the State Senate for the first time in 194 years. Bridgeport state Rep. Andres Ayala was widely expected to be elected but Middletown Republican Art Linares pulled off victory in a district formerly held by a Democrat.
In the 33rd Senate District, for an open seat, Republican Latino Art Linares defeated his Democrat and Green Party challengers by a comfortable margin, according to published reports. It may have been the strong showing by the Green Party at approximately 9 percent that helped Linares to victory, which is somewhat ironic because Linares runs a solar business that he started at the age of 19.
Ayala had an overwhelming win in the 23rd Senate District, according to unofficial results. That means come Jan. 2 he will be the first Latino Democrat to be elected to the State Senate. Ayala could not be reached for comment Tuesday night.
Linares, 23, is a third-generation Cuban American. “My grandfather still calls this the greatest country on earth,” he said in an earlier interview with CTLatinoNews.com. “It was the belief in the American Dream that inspired me to enter this race. It’s about starting from nothing and creating something. Every generation should have the opportunity to lead a better life than the generation before.”
Linares was part of a nationwide GOP Latino effort called the “Future Majority Project” first reported by CTLatinoNews.com, which hoped to elect 100 Republicans to office in November across the country. The two other Republican Latino challengers running with him as part of the project did not fare as well. In the 2nd Senate District, Republican Malvi Garcia-Lennon was easily defeated by incumbent Democrat Eric Coleman. In the 3rd Senate District, incumbent Democrat Gary LeBeau held off challenger Republican Hector Reveron comfortably.
Democrat Daniel Dauplaise faced an insurmountable challenge against Republican incumbent Scott Frantz in the 36th Senate District that is in lower Fairfield County. The district has not elected a Democrat since the 1930s.
Marilyn Cruz, a longtime political activist from New Britain, said this election is the start of Latinos getting more attention and respect from politicians. “In all campaigns after this one, the Hispanic vote, which is not monolithic, will have to be dealt with on a more significant level,” she said. “I can’t imagine in the future election campaign spending won’t multiply. Politicians will put real dollars into outreach in the Hispanic community going forward.”
Ed Vargas, who won easily in Hartford’s 6th State House District, said the issue most on the voters’ minds was jobs. “The biggest concern was lack of jobs. People want to see us attract more job opportunities,” the retired 35-year teacher said, adding improving the schools and quality of life issues were also important to voters he talked to.
State House Results
Incumbent Democrat Minnie Gonzalez was unopposed.
Democrat Angel Arce won the open 4th District seat against Republican Rico Dence.
Democrat Edwin Vargas won the open 6th District seat over Republican Michael Lupo. Vargas also was been endorsed by the Working Families party.
Two-term incumbent Democrat Jason Rojas easily defeated Republican Rudy Hrubala.
Democrat David Pena lost Republican incumbent Timothy LeGeyt.
Incumbent Democrat Robert Sanchez overwhelming defeated Republican Richard Gadomski, Green party candidate Robert Ouellette and petitioning candidate Alfred Mayo.
Incumbent Republican Rosa Rebimbas was unopposed for re-election.
Democrat Victor Cuevas easily defeated Republican John Alseph Jr. for the open 75th District seat.
Incumbent Democrat Catherine Abercrombie easily overcame a challenge by Republican Pablo Soto. Abercrombie is a small business owner. Soto is an engineer and founder/president and program director of Next Generation Missionaries.
Democrat Hilda Santiago easily won her four-way race against Republican David Swedock, Green party candidate Matthew Went and We the People candidate Damien DeJesus in the seat vacated by House Speaker Chris Donovan.
Incumbent Democrat Juan Candelaria was unopposed.
Incumbent Democrat Charles “Don” Clemons Jr. easily held back a challenge from Republican Jose Quiroga.
Democrat Christina Ayala prevailed over Republican Manuel Bataguas in spite of gaining notoriety for being arrested on a hit-and-run charge the day after her August primary victory.
Incumbent Democrat Ezequiel Santiago easily held back Republican John Iannuzzi.
Incumbent Democrat Gerald Fox III held off Republican Eva Maldonado.