A Republican candidate for state senate in Connecticut flipped a seat where then-candidate Joe Biden won by just over 25% during the 2020 presidential election.
Ryan Fazio, a member of Greenwich, Connecticut’s Representative Town Meeting, defeated Alexis Gevanter, a gun control advocate who had never before held public office on Tuesday by less than three percentage points in the wealthy, suburban 36th State Senate District. Republicans are hailing the victory as a preview of the 2022 congressional midterms, and are hoping that it will signal their continued viability with suburban voters. (RELATED: POLL: 78% Of Capitol Hill Staffers Believe GOP Will Take Back The House In 2022)
Gevanter also supported universal absentee voting and state funding for Planned Parenthood.
Fazio’s messaging focused primarily on government spending and deregulation.
“I think the recipe, ultimately, for statewide victory for Republicans is to continue to do better in places like the Naugatuck Valley and eastern Connecticut but also stop the losses or reverse the losses in lower Fairfield County,” Fazio told The CT Mirror. “This is not a Connecticut-specific trend, this is a national trend.”
Naugatuck Valley and eastern Connecticut were some of the first places in the U.S. to industrialize in the early 19th century, hosting steel and textile mills. The areas deindustrialized over the course of the 20th century.
Greenwich, Stamford, and New Canaan are wealthy suburbs of New York City that have swung Democratic in recent years. The 36th State Senate District has a median household income of more than $159,000.
Biden gained 61.8% of the vote in the 36th District in 2020, compared to 36.6% for Trump, according to Elections Daily. Fazio also ran for the seat in 2020 but lost to Democrat Alex Kasser, 51.4%-48.6%. Kasser resigned from the seat due to an acrimonious divorce.
Fewer than 18,000 people voted in the Tuesday special election, 39,000 fewer than the 2020 regularly scheduled election. More than 98,000 people live in the 36th State Senate District, according to Census Reporter.
Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel congratulated Fazio on his victory.
“Biden won this district by 25 points in 2020 and tonight, we flipped it RED!” she tweeted.
Congratulations to Republican @ryanfazio for winning Connecticut Senate District 36!
Biden won this district by 25 points in 2020 and tonight, we flipped it RED!
The RNC was proud to work with the @CTGOP to get out the vote.
— Ronna McDaniel (@GOPChairwoman) August 18, 2021
Republicans are hoping Fazio’s win, like that of McAllen, Texas, mayor Javier Villalobos, are signals of a GOP sweep in the 2022 midterms. Like Fazio, Villalobos won in a traditionally Democratic area, the Rio Grande Valley, where Biden won by 15 percentage points. Villalobos also benefited from low turnout, as fewer than 10,000 people voted in the mayoral election. More than 140,000 people live in McAllen, according to U.S. Census estimates.
Fazio’s win denied Democrats a 2/3’s super-majority in the Connecticut State Senate, where they hold a 23-13 margin.