Sharon McLaughlin, an accountant, longtime Republican activist and the party-endorsed candidate, brushed aside opponent Angel Cadena in Tuesday's Republican primary for the office of state comptroller.

"I'm excited," said McLaughlin. "I'm looking forward to working with the Republican team. That is my goal."

Cadena, who conceded about 9 p.m., said, "I wish her the best."

McLaughlin led consistently by a 3-1 ratio once the polls closed Tuesday and results began being tabulated.

The 57-year old McLaughlin, who has held a variety of accounting positions during a career in business, now faces an uphill fight to unseat first-term Democratic incumbent Kevin Lembo.

The comptroller is Connecticut's chief bookkeeper. Faced with a lagging economy, Lembo and his predecessors have attracted attention by issuing periodic reports on the size of projected state budget surpluses — or deficits.

The office is one of five statewide underticket offices; the others are lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of the state and treasurer — created by the state Constitution and whose occupants report to the governor.

"The fine people of Connecticut are looking for new leaders," McLaughlin said. "What we have had is not working."

McLaughlin is a lifelong resident of Ellington, where she has been active in town affairs. She is a member of Ellington's Republican town committee and is on the board of directors of Grassroots East, a Republican activist group that covers the state's 2nd Congressional District.

"I'm not a politician, and this is the first time I ever run for office for anything," McLaughlin said.

McLaughlin said that her training and experience — she has worked across a spectrum of businesses from retailers to the former East Hartford division of German conglomerate Siemens AG — have equipped her to bring a fresh perspective to the state's financial reporting. She is now accountant for the Ellington Congregational Church.

"I have an accounting background and a different way of looking at things," she said. "And I think that will be beneficial to looking at what things are made of and hopefully finding efficiencies, using technology maybe a little bit different. I am a big fan of cutting expenses by using technology."

"Sometimes I think a pair of fresh eyes and of questioning things in a different manner is beneficial to just about any position," she said.

"The comptroller's office has been controlled by the Democrats for 40 years," she said. "I know that Kevin Lembo has only been in there for four years. But the Democrats have run that system for a long time and it is time for a different group to come in."

Cadena, 33, of Shelton, is a Chicago native who describes himself as the candidate who bootstrapped himself out of a dead-end neighborhood. He is a truck driver and U.S. Marine Corps veteran.

"I great up in a bad part of town," he said. "I always wanted to go beyond that and see the world. I started working really young, I was 8 years old. I was able to pull myself out of there."

In four years of active duty as a U.S. Marine Corps enlistee, Cadena saw service as a heavy equipment operator and truck driver in Iraq, Afghanistan, Japan and Guam. Immediately after leaving the service, Cadena said he participated in a nine-day, 9,500-mile motorcycle challenge from Key West, Fla., to Homer, Alaska.

"It was an amazing experience," he said. "I almost died a couple of times."

Cadena now drives a truck. Previously, he said he worked as an intern for state legislative Republicans and in a paid position as veterans liaison for Linda McMahon during her second campaign for the U.S. Senate.