The race between Democratic state Sen. Alex Kasser and Republican Ryan Fazio was a close one.
As of 9 p.m. Tuesday, it was not yet known who had won the election to represent the 36th Senate District.
“The numbers are trickling in. Our thinking is, it’s going to be close,” Fazio said Tuesday evening. The absentee ballots could be an important factor in the outcome, he said.
Kasser was not immediately available for comment Tuesday night.
The Republicans have been pushing hard to oust Kasser, who is in her first term in a seat that has historically trended toward the Republican side of the ledger, and Fazio has been running an energetic campaign. Fazio was running in state politics for the first time, having joined Greenwich’s Representative Town Meeting in the 2019 election.
The 36th Senate District covers Greenwich and parts of North Stamford and New Canaan. Fazio and Kasser are both residents of Greenwich.
Fazio has been endorsed by local law enforcement in Greenwich and Stamford, due to his opposition to the police reform law that was passed in Hartford in July. Fazio criticized Kasser’s vote in favor of the law, which requires officers to report excessive use of force by their colleagues, limits government immunity protections in certain circumstance and allows lawsuits against officers if “malicious, wanton or willful” behavior is involved, among other provisions.
The law “imposes too much liability on our local police” and would hinder proactive police work to deter crime, he said.
In voicing her approval of the law, Kasser said “it sets standards and requires the best training and technology for all police departments, so they can deescalate situations and prevent violence.”
Kasser has worked to pass legislation in Hartford during her rookie term, and she developed a law aimed at lowering student loan debts. She has designed legislation for the creation of an infrastructure bank, allowing public-private partnerships for transportation improvements, which has not become law. The senator has also worked to design legislation to better protect victims of domestic violence.
The two candidates differ on gun legislation. Kasser has the backing of Connecticut Against Gun Violence and Moms Demand Action. Fazio has put the issue of gun violence into the context of law enforcement and his opposition to the police-reform law, recently Tweeting, “Violence was rising this summer when @CTDems set a negative tone against policing, but it is surging after the police bill started going into effect Oct. 1.”
Fazio has worked in the field of renewable energy. Kasser was a corporate lawyer before entering the legislature.
Kasser was the first Democrat to serve in the seat in decades after she defeated then-state Sen. L. Scott Frantz in the 2018 election. She also drew criticism during her first term due to her support of returning tolls to the state’s highways.
On Tuesday, a packet of incorrect ballots was sent to the District 17 polling place at Roxbury School in Stamford, so nine voters did not get to choose candidates running for the 36th Senate District, which is the race between Kasser and Fazio, and the 149th House District.
Stamford has 10 different ballots, depending on voting district, and an employee put one set in the wrong bin as ballots were prepared for delivery to the polling places, registrars Lucy Corelli and Ron Malloy said.
The mistake was discovered when the ballot scanner at Roxbury School spit the ballots back out, Malloy said.
Attorney Aida Carini of the office of the Connecticut secretary of the state emailed the Stamford registrars about 4 p.m. Tuesday to confirm that they were hand-counting the ballots for the two offices and that the voters who had received incorrect ballots could not be identified.
“Accordingly, it is our opinion that you have taken appropriate measures at this time and reiterate that the candidates should be notified,” Carini wrote.
Malloy said the mistake would not be an issue unless the races are very close. “In that case, a remedy will be decided by the law, and the state is in charge of that,” Malloy said.
Malloy and Corelli said it was human error and took responsibility for it.
Staff Writer Angela Carella contributed to this story.