State Senate rematch could be a cliffhanger, again

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MERIDEN, MIDDLETOWN, MIDDLEFIELD, and CHESHIRE, Conn. (WTNH) — Republicans are hoping that the unpopularity of Governor Malloy and the popularity of Donald Trump in some districts helps them pick up some seats in the State Senate.

Democrats control the State Senate 21 to 15, so if the Republicans can hold on to the seats they have, and pick up four, they would control half of the legislature.  There is one State Senate race that’s been a real cliffhanger in the past two elections, and the same candidates are facing off again. It’s in the 13th State Senate District, which includes Meriden, Middlefield, southwestern Middletown, and the southern half of Cheshire.

47-year-old Democratic State Senator Dante Bartolomeo, of Meriden, is seeking her third term, and it could be close again. Both of her elections were won by less than 300 votes.

The Republican candidate that keeps coming close is 68-year-old Len Suzio. A banking consultant by profession, he has run for this seat seven times, was elected once in a special election, and served part of one term. Bartolomeo beat him four years ago by 287 votes.

Suzio is trying to capitalize on the unpopularity of Governor Malloy, spurred by two tax hikes in the past four years, and deep budget cuts this year.

“My opponent has basically been a Dan Malloy puppet; she’s voted for the second biggest tax increase in the country, in the state last year. She basically has voted anti-jobs and anti business legislation,” says Suzio.  Bartolomeo responds saying, “The budget was in a position that we’re in because of past pension liabilities to a large extent as well as a volatile level of income tax reliance.”  Suzio adds,  “It taxed so many things that everyday, ordinary people use and so it was really heavily born by the middle class and the lower income people, disproportionately so.”

Bartolomeo says she has an independent streak that makes her anything but a rubber stamp for Governor Malloy, “I have differed with the Governor on things like the ‘early release program,’  That’s something that I believe that program is faulty and I don’t believe we should be allowing violent criminals to be out of jail early.”  This is one of Suzio’s favorite subjects sparked by recent high profile crimes committed by former prisoners.  Says Suzio,  “Dan Malloy’s notorious ‘early release law’ whereby thousands and thousands of violent criminals are being let loose from our prisons early free to maraud and rome our streets and terrorize our neighborhoods.”

But the Malloy administration says they prefer to call it ‘Risk Reduction Earned Credit.’ and it’s an important tool in curtailing recidivism and that statistics show that violent prisoners here in Connecticut are actually serving more of their sentences than before the law went into effect

Bartolomeo points to the massive flood control project in flood prone downtown Meriden, plus the new train station and other economic development as signs that Malloy and the Democrats have scored for the district and that the business climate has turned.  Bartolomeo adding,  “We here in Connecticut, in the last six months, have been leading New England in job growth and we’ve also seen Electric Boat, we’ve seen Pratt & Whitney, we’ve seen Sikorsky all pledge to stay here in Connecticut.”

What’s described as an anti-business climate under Governor Malloy and the Democrats has also caused the state’s largest business organization, the ‘Connecticut Business and Industry Association,’ to become involved in some of these legislative races. They are endorsing Republican Len Suzio.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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