This weekly segment by Democrats for Education Reform CT looks at the top education stories Democrats are watching, providing bite-sized analysis and links to recent articles.
Last night's results reflected the planning and strategy that DFER CT has been working towards over the last year. While a ‘blue wave” seemed possible, we strategically invested early in State Senate races that would pay dividends, both for the party and for the schools and students that are always front-and-center in our priorities. Ultimately, the reasons Connecticut voters came out to the polls yesterday may have been diverse, but they sent us a clear, unified message that they want Democrats to lead in Hartford. We’ve been monitoring these results throughout the midterm cycle, and here’s the latest:
Democrats in Connecticut had a very successful Election Day, despite aggressive Republican spending and a difficult political climate. Once all the ballots were counted, Ned Lamont was elected Governor, and longtime DFER ally US Senator Chris Murphy was re-elected for another term. But we believe the story of the night is that Democrats made significant gains in their majorities in the State House and State Senate. (Previously, they had only a precarious lead in the Senate, via the tie-breaking vote of the Lieutenant Governor.) For our part, DFER CT participated in one of the only independent expenditure efforts to specifically support Democrats in the state, and our efforts paid off significantly! Through our IEC, Change Course CT, we supported six highly competitive State Senate races--all of which appear to be victories, pending the latest vote counts.
In the State Senate races, we used polling, digital advertising, SMS, and phone outreach, as well as Election Day Registration and GOTV efforts in the final 72 hours. As a result of our efforts and those of our partners, we will see a much-changed landscape in the Connecticut General Assembly in 2019. The State Senate Democrats could have a majority of 24-12 when all the votes are tallied, and Democrats are leading in all contested races thus far. In particular, we want to highlight that among the six races in which we engaged, we saw 4 flip from red to blue, and 2 are still deemed too close to officially call.
For education policy and reform efforts specifically, this is a huge step forward. A Democratic majority in the State Senate and multiple retirements mean a new Chair of the Education Committee. By all indications, the new Chair will be a reform ally with whom DFER has developed a strong partnership--finally moving the committee away from the suburban leadership that has been its default for many years and that often protected the status quo. Additionally, we have added several education-focused and reform-minded State Senators to the Democratic ranks, including James Maroney (SD 14), who runs a college preparation business, Will Haskell (SD 26), a young, fresh independent voice at 22 years old, and Mary Abrams (SD 13), a former assistant principal and special education teacher. Under the leadership of President Pro Tempore Marty Looney and Majority Leader Bob Duff, we feel this is a very positive outcome, which will lead to increased cooperation and new opportunities for funding equity, fairness, and high standards.
We anticipate that the Lamont Administration will likely continue many of the education efforts that began under Malloy’s tenure. We are also hopeful that Lamont will embrace many of the tenets of his past pro-reform efforts. Right off the bat, this new Governor will be tasked with appointing a new Commissioner of Education and several members of the State Board of Education. Although his top priorities will include addressing our fiscal challenges, Lamont has repeatedly proclaimed an intention to be Connecticut’s “education governor.” He has said he is looking to collaborate with many voices at the table on education policy, and we look forward to being included as one of those voices in 2019 and beyond.
A deeper dive into all the results will be out in our Political Playbook over the week.
Thanks so much for staying with us this election season. We look forward to sharing updates on a new General Assembly convening and gubernatorial transition in the weeks to come.