Connecticut voters like what they have. Despite the turnover in the national elections, local voters chose in most cases to stick with the familiar. State Sen. Toni Boucher, a Republican, and U.S. Rep. Jim Himes, a Democrat, kept their seats, and contests without incumbents were generally won by a member of the former office holder's party.
In 2008, Boucher squeaked by her Democratic opponent, John Hartwell, in the 26th District, which includes Ridgefield, Weston, Westport, Wilton, Redding, New Canaan and Bethel. This year, the GOP incumbent received 61 percent of the vote to retain her seat for a second term.
Boucher said the election results speak to the strength of the campaigns. "Sometimes it is also about the candidates themselves, and not the party," she said. "This year it was about the economy and taxes and jobs and closing the $3 billion budget gap."
After two unsuccessful bids for the 26th District seat, Hartwell said gerrymandered districts are the primary reason open seats are taken by incumbents and their parties. "Voters have already been divided up along party lines," he said. "When the redistricting comes up, any incumbent in office today will come out of redistricting with an optimal situation."
John McKinney, a Republican, won his seventh term in the 28th District, defeating Democrat Mitchell Fuchs. McKinney said that incumbents in Connecticut have always fared well. "It's very difficult to defeat an incumbent," he said. "I sensed a lot of voter dissatisfaction at the polls. People are dissatisfied with the government, but they like who represents them."
McKinney agreed with Hartwell about the districting issue. "As a party, statewide, we've seen a larger percentage of Republican voters than what is represented in the General Assembly." Districts will be redrawn before 2012, but neither McKinney or Hartwell thinks they will be altered enough to affect election outcomes.
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