Blue and red, but one state mov­ing for­ward

Stamford Advocate - - Opinion -

Look at a map of how Con­necti­cut’s 169 mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties voted, and our blue state ap­pears quite red. But by pop­u­la­tion, the cities and sub­urbs gave mo­men­tum to the blue wave that Democrats rode this week to keep the gov­er­nor­ship and in­crease power in the Gen­eral Assem­bly.

The vic­tors should be hum­bled. Gover­nor-elect Ned La­mont won by a nar­row mar­gin. The tone he must set now for a new ad­min­is­tra­tion needs to be in­clu­sive, con­struc­tive and pos­i­tive.

Be­sides win­ning all of the con­sti­tu­tional of­fices, Democrats in­creased their ma­jor­ity in the House from 80-71 seats to a com­fort­able 92-69, and tipped the pre­vi­ously even Se­nate to a 23-12 split, with one seat un­de­cided.

The most im­pres­sive as­pect of Tues­day’s elec­tion, though, was the stun­ningly high voter turnout. More than 1.3 mil­lion res­i­dents cast bal­lots, sur­pass­ing re­cent mem­ory for a mid-term elec­tion, Sec­re­tary of the State Denise Mer­rill said Wed­nes­day.

Look­ing back, this will be re­mem­bered as the year of en­er­gized civic en­gage­ment. Many first-time can­di­dates — in­clud­ing youth, mi­nori­ties and women — got in­volved, and won. Over and over in Ed­i­to­rial Board in­ter­views, new can­di­dates spoke of the dis­may with na­tional pol­i­tics, and the neg­a­tiv­ity of the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion, that mo­ti­vated them to seek of­fice.

As a re­sult, new­com­ers up­rooted sev­eral vet­eran politi­cians in the state Se­nate, in­clud­ing Repub­li­cans L. Scott Frantz in Greenwich, Michael McLach­lan in Dan­bury, and Toni Boucher in Wil­ton — who lost to a 22-year-old re­cent col­lege grad­u­ate.

Con­necti­cut is send­ing its first African-Amer­i­can woman to Con­gress, Ja­hana Hayes in the 5th District, and elected its first Asian-Amer­i­can man as state at­tor­ney gen­eral. (It’s sur­pris­ing, ac­tu­ally, that th­ese “firsts” are hap­pen­ing only now in 2018.)

Re­gard­less of which party won, the huge voter turnout is en­cour­ag­ing. At many polling places, vot­ers were lined up be­fore the doors opened at 6 a.m. One could be for­given for feel­ing giddy stand­ing in line to get a bal­lot and mark a choice. We were wit­nesses to democ­racy in ac­tion.

The chal­lenge for us in­di­vid­u­ally now is to stay en­gaged. Be in­formed, make your views known. There is power in num­bers of like-minded peo­ple who un­der­stand that gov­ern­ment can be a tool for bet­ter­ment of all, not just a se­lect few.

In the Demo­cratic sweep of the five Con­gres­sional dis­tricts and U.S. Sen. Chris Mur­phy’s easy re-elec­tion, vot­ers also showed that Con­necti­cut in­tends to stand strong against the harm of the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion, such as with health care, cli­mate change and im­mi­gra­tion.

Let Con­necti­cut be an ex­am­ple of how po­lit­i­cal par­ties can re­spect each other, how non-gov­ern­ment in­ter­ests, such as busi­ness, can be heard, and the marginal­ized can be con­sid­ered.

La­mont ex­pressed the right di­rec­tion Wed­nes­day af­ter learn­ing he had won the chance to lead the state for the next four years: “My door is open. And any good idea, let’s go with it. ... we’re go­ing to solve this thing by work­ing to­gether.”

Con­necti­cut may be a mo­saic of blue and red, but we must col­lab­o­rate now to move for­ward.

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