WESTPORT — State Sen. Will Haskell began his tenure in the legislator with much fanfare and now he’s hoping his constituents will back him for a second term.

Last week, the 23-year-old announced what he’s described as a “soft-launch” of his reelection campaign.

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“The reason we announced so early is I’m doing my best to try to get all the fundraising out of the way before the legislative session,” Haskell said. “When I get up to Hartford, I want to make the most of every day up there.”

To raise these funds, the youngest member of Connecticut’s General Assembly is using the state’s public finance system, which he credits in part for his initial success. Without the program, Haskell said, he would’ve never been able to run for the Senate.

“It’s also not just about me, it’s about the diverse legislature we’re able to elect when we take money out of politics,” he said. “... With the public finance system, anybody can run for office. That’s why I have the seat I have today.”

In 2018 Haskell made headlines when he defeated Republican incumbent Toni Boucher for the 26th district’s state Senate seat, which represents Westport, Wilton, Ridgefield and Redding, and parts of Bethel, New Canaan and Weston.

While he’s hopeful for a sophomore term, the senator said he’s already learned a great deal in his time at the capitol, like the importance of working across the aisle and a continuous dialogue with constituents.

“One of the most important things we did was raise the minimum age of buying tobacco to 21,” Haskell said. “That happened because Democrats and Republicans stood together.”

His first successful campaign was, in large part, a grass-roots effort that focused on directly connecting with constituents. Once the legislative session adjourns in May, he looks to follow a similar plan.

“Once our campaign really gets off the ground after the legislative session I’m going to immediately start knocking on doors and getting feedback from our constituents,” Haskell said. “I’ve learned so much from my constituents and not just as a candidate, but also as a state senator.”

From town halls to door-knocking, Haskell said connecting with those he represents has shed light on issues he was not even aware of, including death with dignity legislation.

“Unfortunately we are not a state where those who are suffering from a terminal diagnosis get to define their last chapter,” he said, adding it’s one of his priorities for the next legislative session.

“The reason I decided to run again is I’m absolutely addicted to the feeling of picking up the phone and listening to my constituents,” he said. “Whether a constituent voted for me or not I get to be their voice fighting for them in the state bureaucracy.”

Connecticut Democratic Party Chairman Nancy Wyman noted Haskell’s focus on connecting with his constituents will be key in the November election.

“You have to show people you really care. It’s about the face-to-face interactions and making sure that your word is your bond,” Wyman said. “People have to understand your door is open to them with whatever problem they have.”

She also expressed excitement about Haskell’s plan to run again.

“Will is truly an up-and-comer in the Democratic Party and in the state government,” she said. “He’s smart, articulate and does his homework. As a freshman that’s an amazing success to me.”

While traveling throughout the state, Wyman said she’s already noticed younger people getting more politically involved.

“That’s what will make not only the Democratic Party a better party, but it will make the state and country a better place,” she said. “We need young, active and smart people like Will.”

Haskell said he hopes constituents will back him in his reelection efforts.

“I’m excited about what’s happening in Hartford to set the state on a more sound fiscal footing, and I want to continue that work,” he said.

dj.simmons@hearstmediact.com