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Westport's vote: Partisans on both sides pleased -- for different reasons

Westport News
Updated 9:15 pm, Wednesday, November 7, 2012

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  • State Rep. Jonathan Steinberg toasts his victory with family members Tuesday night. From left are Steinberg, his daughter Charlotte, wife Nancy and mother Sybil Steinberg Photo: Contributed Photo, Jarrtet Liotta/Contributed Photo / Westport News
    State Rep. Jonathan Steinberg toasts his victory with family members Tuesday night. From left are Steinberg, his daughter Charlotte, wife Nancy and mother Sybil Steinberg Photo: Contributed Photo, Jarrtet Liotta/Contributed Photo

 

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Both sides of the political aisle had something to celebrate in Tuesday's election returns.

While Westport Democrats were jubilant over the across-the-board victories scored by the party's candidates at the top of the ticket, Republicans had reason to be pleased as they held on to three of the town's four seats in the state General Assembly.

Democrats Barack Obama, Chris Murphy and Jim Himes rolled to big victory margins in Westport as they went on to prevail in their respective races for president, U.S. Senate and U.S. House.

Adding to Democrats' bragging rights on election night was the solid re-election victory of Jonathan Steinberg in the 136th state House District.

Republican leaders, however, were pleased at the re-election victories, in multi-town state legislative districts that include Westport, of Gail Lavielle in the 143rd state House District; Toni Boucher in the 26th state Senate District, and John McKinney in the 28th state Senate District.

Steinberg outpolled Republican challenger Stephen Rubin, 7,398 votes to 5,740.

In the 143rd House District, which now includes the west side of Westport, incumbent Lavielle prevailed over Democratic challenger Ted Hoffstatter. Results in Westport were 574 for Lavielle to 477 for Hofstatter in Westport, and she also beat her opponent in their shared hometown of Wilton.

"Being elected -- it's not an ordinary experience," Lavielle said Wednesday. "I'm really deeply moved that all three of the towns that I now represent gave me a strong mandate to represent them. I'm honored by the confidence and the trust, and I think I have the best constituents in the whole world.

"I live in Wilton, but I have a lot of experience representing a place where I don't live. Westport is just as important to me as Wilton and Norwalk."

In the 26th Senate District, incumbent Republican Boucher won over Democrat Carolanne Curry. Final numbers in that race in Westport were Boucher 6,169 votes and Curry (including Democratic and Working Families lines): 6,024. But Boucher added to that margin in six other towns in the district.

And in the 28th Senate District, Republican John McKinney of Fairfield, the Senate minority leader, was unopposed. In Westport, newly added to McKinney's district, he won 1,104 votes here, as well as 18,931 votes in his hometown of Fairfield. He added to the margin in the other communities in the district.

Steinberg, who campaigned as a moderate independent of Hartford's Democratic power base, credited his re-election victory to talking with voters about issues.

"I am so incredibly proud of the campaign we ran," Steinberg said. "We stayed focused on the issues."

"I'm very grateful that the people of Westport will give me the opportunity to continue the work I've been doing," the winner said.

"We couldn't be more pleased with the results," said Jim Ezzes, the Democratic Town Committee chairman. "It shows that all the hard work by the Democratic Town Committee and the candidates helped Westport deliver the vote."

Rubin had painted Steinberg as part of a majority-party that approved record tax increases and allowed state spending to run away. The Republican campaigned on a pledge to cut spending and taxes and create jobs.

"This is not shiva," Rubin said of his loss to Steinberg. "This is an election. The people spoke. I congratulate the winner. Go to Hartford. Continue to represent us and make us proud."

Steinberg, winning a second term, held an olive branch to conservatives, but at the same time seemed pragmatic.

"My objective is to try to listen to everybody and represent all of Westport to the best of my ability, knowing I can't please everyone," he said.

First Selectman Gordon Joseloff, a Democrat, said of the contestants in the 136th House race: "Let me congratulate both men. They're both really good friends of mine and I was really torn on a personal level ... Westport wins."

"I'm disappointed that Steve wasn't able to pull it off," said Desiree Soli, the chairwoman of the Republican Town Committee. "I think he would have been an excellent state representative. But the voters seem to think that Jonathan is doing a good job in Hartford.

"The Democrats obviously have an advantage in Westport in terms of registered voters, and clearly Obama was a big factor. I think the Obama phenomenon helped to push Jonathan to victory."