[See the results for the House of Representatives, the Senate and governors races, and read our analysis]
As Democrats picked up at least six new governor seats across the country on Tuesday, Republicans remained optimistic about prevailing in a tight Connecticut race, hoping to capitalize on an unpopular incumbent governor and a sluggish economy.
Connecticut says thousands of ballots are so wet, they have to be hand-counted
But, hours after polls closed, voters were left waiting for results: Wet ballots had delayed a final count.
Secretary of State Denise W. Merrill said early Wednesday that voters dripped water onto their ballots after standing in the rain waiting to vote, and poll workers were unable to scan potentially thousands of soggy cards into the tally machines.
Sounding as if she were only half-kidding, Ms. Merrill said she told registrars around the state to get out their hair dryers and try to rescan the ballots once they had dried a bit. But, she warned, election workers may have to count thousands of votes by hand.
Gabe Rosenberg, a spokesman for Ms. Merrill, said the office was unsure when a final tally would be ready.
Democratic US Sen. Chris Murphy wins 2nd term
As of early Wednesday, Bob Stefanowski, the Republican candidate and a former business executive, held a slight lead over Ned Lamont, the Democrat, with 73 percent of precincts reporting. But many of the states urban centers, where Democrats expected a strong showing, had not fully reported, according to The Associated Press.
Marc Bradley, Mr. Lamonts campaign manager, sent supporters home from the campaigns election night party, saying things are going to have to wait a little bit longer before the race will be called. Kendall Marr, a spokesman for Mr. Stefanowski, said the campaign also sent supporters home and did not expect results for many hours.
Throughout the campaign, Mr. Stefanowski, a first-time candidate, sought to tie Mr. Lamont to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, a Democrat who decided not to run for a third term. Mr. Malloys approval ratings have ranked among the lowest in the country.
Mr. Lamonts campaign looked to portray Mr. Stefanowski as an acolyte of President Trump, who remains out of favor in a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans five to three. The state voted for Democratic candidates in the last seven presidential elections, including in 2016, when Mr. Trump received 40.9 percent of the vote compared with Hillary Clintons 54.6 percent.
Griebel rebuffs calls to pull out of race, endorse Lamont
If Mr. Stefanowski wins, it will be particularly important for Republicans, who lost governor seats in Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, New Mexico and Wisconsin. Connecticut would be the only state where Democrats lost a governors seat.
Senator Christopher S. Murphy, a 45-year-old Democrat, easily won re-election to his second term by defeating Matthew Corey, a Republican Navy veteran.
Mr. Murphys decisive victory — the race was called immediately after polls closed at 8 p.m. — came after he spent much of the election cycle campaigning for other Democrats, including Mr. Lamont and Jahana Hayes, a first-time congressional candidate.
Mr. Murphy, who became one of the nations leading advocates for gun control after the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, may turn his attention to what is expected to be a crowded presidential field. Though he is not considered a front-runner for the Democratic nomination, he has been among a small group of Democrats courting top New York donors.
We are not a nation that tolerates bullies or wannabe tyrants, Mr. Murphy said. We are a democracy, and maybe louder and clearer than anything we can say tonight, were saying, here in Connecticut, that if you come after our democracy, then we are coming for you.
In the House, Democrats held onto all five of the states seats, with four incumbents winning re-election.
Ms. Hayes, a political neophyte and former National Teacher of the Year who won a long-shot primary race, will become the first black Democrat to represent Connecticut in Congress.
Nine Big Lessons From Election Night
Ms. Hayes, 45, easily defeated her opponent, Manny Santos, a Republican and former mayor of Meriden. Elizabeth Esty, the incumbent Democratic representative, did not seek re-election after a sexual harassment case involving her former chief of staff.
During her campaign, Ms. Hayes often told her life story, one that she said differentiated her from most politicians. She experienced homelessness as a child, became pregnant as a teenager and faced economic struggles.
The thing is while it may be atypical for a member of Congress, its not really that strange for people in our communities, Ms. Hayes said in an interview after her victory. If we are truly representing people, we have to have a true understanding of what people are experiencing and what theyre going through.
Video: Close Race For Governor In Connecticut
Kevin Lembo, a Democrat, won a third term as the state comptroller, and Ms. Merrill, also a Democrat, was re-elected to a third term. Other statewide races, including for attorney general and treasurer, remained too close to call. Control of the State Legislature was also undecided.
Share Share Ned Lamont elected governor of Connecticut tweet share Reddit Pocket Flipboard Email Ned Lamont, Governor-elect of Connecticut, center. Ned Lamont for Governor Democrat Ned Lamont has defeated Bob Stefanowski to become next governor of Connecticut, maintaining unified Democratic control of one of the bluest states in the nation.
On its face, a Democrat prevailing in a state where Donald Trump got 40 percent of the vote is not particularly surprising. But moderate Republicans — including Massachusettss Charlie Baker, Marylands Larry Hogan, Vermonts Phil Scott, and New Hampshires Chris Sununu — have been polling well in governors races in the Northeast, and went into Tuesday in a strong position. Meanwhile, polls had shown Stefanowski giving Lamont a real run for his money.
Democrats have enjoyed unified control of Connecticut since Dan Malloys election in 2010, but years of austerity budgeting and economic difficulties have left Malloy as one of the least-popular governors in the country, with a shocking 70 percent disapproval rating according to Morning Consult, leading him to decline to seek reelection.
But unlike other New England Republicans, Stefanowski did relatively little to distance himself from President Donald Trump. The national political climate was simply too bad for the GOP for him to have a chance to win.
Every election is important, but the concrete policy stakes in this election were relatively modest. The lower house of the Connecticut legislature is firmly in Democratic hands, so a Stefanowski administration would have struggled to enact a visionary conservative agenda.
Ned Lamont becomes Governor-Elect as Stefanowski concedes
Meanwhile, the past eight years of Democratic governance plus the narrow division in the state Senate mean there isnt a lot of low-hanging progressive fruit for Lamont to pick either.
That said, the ongoing strengthening of the national economy should steadily alleviate Connecticuts budget woes and set Lamont up for a happier tenure in office than Malloy enjoyed.
Perhaps most importantly of all, however, is that a national constituency of progressive activists finally has its revenge on former Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman.
The backstory to this election dates all the way to the mid-aughts, when George W. Bush was president and we had political blogs and a thing called the Netroots. And while Netroots figures had many causes, the highest cause of all was hating then-Democratic Sen. Joe Lieberman.
Hatred for Lieberman ran so deep that even professional nice guy Ezra Klein once accused him of being willing to cause the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people in order to settle an old electoral score. (This was basically accurate.)
The great lost chance to kill off Liebermans career in electoral politics came in 2006, when he lost a primary challenge to business leader Ned Lamont.
But then Lieberman refused to endorse the Democratic nominee for Senate, choosing instead to run for reelection as the Connecticut for Lieberman Partys nominee. Republicans, facing an electoral tsunami that year, basically threw in the towel and let Lieberman soak up conservative votes. National Democrats, meanwhile, wanted to plow resources into beating Republicans and largely sat out the race.
With 94 percent of precincts reporting, Lamont takes slight lead
Lamont lost, Lieberman went back to the Senate, he spent the 2008 cycle campaigning for John McCain, and after that was welcomed back with open arms by the Democratic caucus. Once back there, he used his position as a senator from a safe seat to scuttle efforts to add a public option to the Affordable Care Act, seriously weakening the law and raising health insurance premiums for millions of people.
Murphy re-elected to US Senate – News from southeastern Connecticut
This would all just be a weird footnote to history, except the circumstances of the 2018 governors race called for a Democratic Party nominee who was known in the state and yet not actually tied in any way to the states unpopular incumbent Democratic administration.
Someone like … Ned Lamont! Lieberman, meanwhile, made news the week before the election by announcing that he was signing on to Team Stefanowski as a transition adviser, thus further heightening the stakes for veterans of the mid-aughts Lieberman wars.
Lamonts win underscores, fundamentally, that progressives have the wind at their backs this cycle — both in terms of voter sentiment and, crucially in this case, candidate recruitment that let them run ahead of the local party establishments bad reputation.
4 winners and 2 losers from the 2018 midterm elections Democrats take the House, Trump takes the Senate. Its official: Democrats will control the House Its a return to power after eight years in the minority. Trumps free ride from Congress just ended Investigations, legislative fights, impeachment? What Democrats House takeover could mean for Trump. Jared Polis becomes first openly gay person elected governor in America The Democrat ran on a progressive platform, contrasting himself from his Republican opponent. Why Stacey Abrams isnt conceding yet Absentee ballots could force this race into a runoff. vox-mark Vox Sentences The news, but shorter, delivered straight to your inbox.