Democrats have held a super majority in the House since the early 2000s, despite a highly popular Republican Governor. Governor Rell’s favor ability never fell under 60% but that support never extended to the legislative races. At one point there was only 37 Republicans in the 151 member house. In the past four years the Republicans have been able to pick up 27 seats, and in the 2014 election there were several races that were so close if 1,890 people had changed their votes in close races the Republicans could have achieved a majority in the House. Republicans currently have most seats they have held since 1996.
With more Republicans in the General Assembly then there has been for years, there is an expectation there will be a greater bipartisan effort. Republicans have often relied on filibustering in order to make their voice heard, this year with successfully lobbying 12 or more of their democratic colleagues Republicans will be able to successfully defeat some democratic proposals.
It is traditionally thought most voters will vote among party lines, so when a democratic Governor is successfully, ultimately more democrats will be elected into office. In 2014 Governor Malloy defeated Republican challenger Tom Foley by a greater percentage than their original match in 2010. Even with more Democratic support for the Governor, legislative races were still successful in bringing a high turnout of Republican voters.
In the Spring of 2014, longtime Republican leader, Representative Larry Cafero announced that he will be retiring. Throughout the summer there were several different names debated on who would be the next Republican leader in the House. As minority leader, a representative has the ability to develop the party’s priorities and set the tone for the session.
The House Republican’s have elected a new leader, Representative Themis Klarides, she is smart, aggressive and very experienced. Representative Klarides is also a skilled negotiator and the first woman to ever serve as the House Republican Majority leader.
Given the state of fiscal affairs that continues to plague the CT economy. It seems almost certain that the House and Senate Republicans will be having some very spirited debate this year on Connecticut’s future. Republicans have started reaching out to their Democratic colleagues to work together to address the budget problems facing the state.