After the polls opened for Tuesday's gubernatorial and legislative primaries, reports came in from around the state of empty or near-empty polling places.
And while low turnout may be the story today, enough good citizens, party loyalists and others showed up to put the endorsed Republican gubernatorial candidate, Greenwich businessman Tom Foley, over the top.
Mr. Foley withstood a credible challenge by state Sen. John McKinney of Fairfield and will now face incumbent Gov. Dannel P. Malloy in the November election, which will be a rematch of the cliffhanger won by Mr. Malloy in 2010 by 6,400 votes. Some early polls suggest it could be another very close contest.
What's To Come
Though they will surely discuss other things, such as education and perhaps guns, the main focus of the fall election figures to be the economy and the budget. In the primary, Mr. Foley ran as a front-runner, offering few specifics on how he would balance the budget and rev up job numbers. His message was: I'm a smart, experienced businessman, trust me to straighten things out. He may have to get a little more specific by November.
Look for Mr. Foley to engage the large cities more than he did in 2010; Democratic turnout in the cities helped carry that race for Mr. Malloy.
Mr. Malloy, on the other hand, will have to fight against an economy that is still sluggish despite a ramped-up economic development program that involved grants, loans and tax breaks to businesses big and small. Some of his initiatives, such as the investment in genomic medicine, need time to develop. Whether he can get that point across remains to be seen. But his rock-solid handling of the Newtown shootings and some other things may serve him in good stead.
Neither of these candidates is blessed with a perpetually sunny disposition; this promises to be a hard-nosed campaign. And if petitioning challengers Jonathan Pelto and Joseph Visconti get on the ballot, they could impact the outcome.
The primary saw an unusual three-way campaign for lieutenant governor between former U.S. Comptroller General David Walker of Bridgeport, former Groton Mayor Heather Bond Somers and state Rep. Penny Bacchiochi of Stafford. The race was too close to call at press time — not something often said of lieutenant governor races.
And In Other Races ...
Some legislative races caught the attention of the politically cognizant.
In a hotly contested run for the Democratic nomination in the 2nd Senatorial District, which includes parts of Hartford, Windsor and Bloomfield, incumbent Sen. Eric Coleman withstood a strong challenge by Hartford city council president Shawn Wooden to hold the seat. Mr. Coleman may have parlayed his opposition to the proposed Hartford minor league baseball stadium into the victory.
In Bridgeport, ex-legislator and ex-con Ernie Newton failed in an attempt to regain the seat he once held in the House, losing to former council member Andre Baker. Mr. Newton served nearly five years in prison for accepting bribes and other crimes, and still has other charges pending against him. The voters wisely decided to let him focus on his defense.
Also in Bridgeport, Rep. Christina Ayala, who was plagued by some personal and legal issues, lost to endorsed candidate Chris Rosario, who directs Bridgeport's anti-blight program.
If early reports hold up, these races were all decided by too few voters. The turnout is likely to revive the perennial arguments about whether primaries should be moved to June and whether they should be open. There is no evidence, however, that turnout is any greater in June than August.
Should the parties open their primaries to all voters? There are about 800,000 unaffiliated voters in the state, twice the number of registered Republicans and more than the 705,000 Democrats. Allowing them to take part in picking the candidates couldn't hurt, and would get more people to the polls in June or August.