Harbinger of more success for Republicans? Connecticut special election brings 2 GOP pickups

Amid a lot of other stories in the press, a good one from Connecticut got a lost in the shuffle: the state held a special election of five state legislative slots, and Republicans unexpectedly won two of them.

Here's the Washington Examiner's report, with links to two very good local press stories:

Republican candidates in Connecticut flipped two state legislative seats in a five-race special election held Tuesday.

Gennaro Bizzarro pulled off the biggest upset of the night. He defeated Democratic Rep. Rick Lopes in the 6th District Senate race with 53 percent of the vote, the CT Mirror reports.  The seat was vacated after the incumbent was appointed to a state role by newly elected Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont's administration.

All five vacancies were a result of Lamont appointing legislators to state roles. 

Now, this state is deep blue.  So what a result like this suggests is that the press "narrative" about Republicans and President Trump being "unpopular" is downright phony.  Conventional wisdom on midterms is that those elections are referendums on the president.  These special elections look as though they're referendums on the Democrats, who took a large swath of power in the last midterm.  So this "unexpected" result in Connecticut sounds like a harbinger of things to come in the 2020 election.

Now, it is part of a known trend.  New England has shown some buck-the-orthodoxy electoral results in recent years, as described by Salena Zito, who cited Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Maine electing Republican governors in 2017.  The addition of Connecticut to the GOP pickup list via state offices falls in line on that front.

But it's also of a piece with a different metric: that the tiny little special elections, which got so much press in 2017 and 2018 because they yielded Democratic upsets in traditionally Republican enclaves such as Alabama — inevitably led to the Democratic Party's retaking of the House by 2018.  It was true enough then, and now we are seeing the trend reverse — this time toward Republicans.  If a lot of these little special elections keep yielding "unexpected" Republican results, it's likely a sign the Democrats are going to be out on their ear in the House in 2020.

Here's another thing: Connecticut has been run by Democrats for a long, long time.  That's led to the inevitable result of liberal Democratic rule: high taxes and unbearable regulation.  The Patch, in January, reported that Connecticut is the third-highest state for residential flight:

Undoubtedly there is a lot to love about our home state, but the negatives are well-chronicled, beginning with the fact that taxes are through the roof, and then there is the state's crippling debt and the never-ending talk of tolls being resurrected.

Other local news accounts say that the Republicans won based on voter anger over high toll taxes, too, and that's a yellow-vest issue if there ever was one.  The GOP tried in the earlier election cycle to run against these kinds of taxes and failed, but this time, the GOP argument won.  Apparently, Connecticut's voters were sick of the state's nickeling-and-diming them just for the "privilege" of driving to their jobs to pay those taxes.  One of the Republicans who won in the special election, Gennaro Bizzarro, had this to say:

"I told everybody that this was a special opportunity — that voters of the sixth district had to be heard on the governor's budget," Bizzarro told a crowded room of supporters in The Avenue, a Berlin restaurant.  "I told you this was a referendum on tolls and taxes and we did not disappoint."

When you consider that there are plenty of other high-tax one-party solid blue states (I'm looking at you, Illinois and California), it suggests that there is a breaking point among voters, they have their limits.  California isn't precisely like Connecticut, owing to its Silicon Valley plutocrats and its gargantuan illegal immigrant population, but it suggests there's an "enough" factor somewhere.  Maybe Californians will have limits at some point, too.  Victor Davis Hanson argues that there will be a breaking point here because California only needs to lose a couple billionaires to other states to see its tax base collapse.

Here's another thing that's good news for Republicans in this electoral result: the local Connecticut Mirror reports that the districts that flipped were blue collar districts, the very voters Democrats have lately been trying to write off, even as the election of President Trump in 2016 showed their power.

Kind of stupid of them, in light of Connecticut.  Because if they can lose parts of Connecticut in a low-turnout special election, think what they can lose in a purple state, or a red state.

Lastly, the Democrats do seem to be in denial about why this is happening.  Get a load of this Democrat comment from the Mirror, dismissing the whole loss as a nothingburger:

Nancy Wyman, the Democratic state chair, said special elections waged in the cold as a six-week sprint do not lend themselves to broad analysis.  A strong personality, combined with a good organization, can lead to upsets, she said.

"We knew East Haven was going to be a difficult race," said House Majority Leader Matt Ritter, D-Hartford.

Actually, Bizzarro wasn't a pretty face, and it's significant that he won with a last name that's probably hard to campaign on, I'm going to argue that's a solid win.

And it's not hard to understand why.  Extremism in taxes and blue-state shenanigans, combined with the dismissal of whole classes of voters can only come up good for Republicans.  The GOP needs to take this Connecticut model and engage in hot pursuit with it, because it looks like they can win on it.  Even the blue state voters are coming over.

Image credit: Wikimedia CommonsCC BY-SA 3.0.

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