If you’re looking for the 2021 Connecticut 36th Senate District special election, you have come to the right place. Election day is August 17, 2021.
To date, there have been 33 seats filled in American state legislative special elections. None of them have resulted in a party gaining a seat, making for quite the streak for the status quo. In 2020, the first legislative flip of the year was in February, so 2021 is a little behind to be sure. Maybe voters this year just prefer the party in power.
Will Connecticut’s SD-36 be the first seat of the year to change hands?
ELECTION NIGHT UPDATE: FAZIO WINS, GOP GAINRyan Fazio flipped the 36th District back to the Republicans with a narrow 50-48 win over Alexis Gevanter. This is no huge surprise given the historical profile of the district. Full results to follow.
36th Senate District Election Results
36th Senate District Special Election 2021: Key Facts
PREVIOUSLY HELD BY: Alex Kasser (D-Greenwich). She was first elected in 2018 and re-elected in 2020. Kasser resigned from the Senate in June 2021 for personal reasons related to an ongoing divorce.
LOCATION: This district lies in what we might consider big-bucks territory in the panhandle of Connecticut. It includes all of Greenwich and parts of Stamford and New Canaan. SD-36 borders Pound Ridge, New York, another very wealthy New York City suburb.
POLITICAL COMPOSITION & OTHER RESULTS: The 36th District is politically divided. Kasser defeated Ryan Fazio (R) by a 51-49 margin in 2020, after flipping the seat blue in 2018 by an even tighter margin. Prior to 2018, Republicans won the seat comfortably.
WHO’S RUNNING: Alexis Gevanter (D-Greenwich), Ryan Fazio (R-Greenwich), and John Blankley (I-Greenwich). Gevanter is an attorney making her first run at public office. Fazio is part of the Greenwich Representative Town Meeting (RTM) legislature and he narrowly lost to Kasser in 2020. Blankley originally sought the Democratic nomination in this special election, but decided to run as an independent. He was the losing Democratic nominee for SD-36 in 2016.
About the Connecticut Legislature
Democrats have had solo control of the Connecticut State Senate for all but four of the last 34 years. They have held the House majority for that entire stretch of 34 years, dating back to 1987.
At present, Democrats have 23 seats, Republicans 12, and this is the lone vacant seat.
Connecticut 36th Senate District Special Election 2021: Analysis & Our Pick
We are going to classify this race as Lean Democratic, since we do no tossups ever, but not by a whole lot.
Unlike most special elections we have seen so far in 2021, this is a genuine flip opportunity. It was a Republican seat in the recent past, and a long-term one at that. The two Democratic wins here in 2018 and 2020 were narrow. If the GOP is going to pick off a seat anywhere, it will be this one.
There is also a real possibility that in a close race, John Blankley could play spoiler. In effect, there are two Democrats running in this special election, but will your average Democratic voter ignore the independent candidate and stick to the party line? Taking just a few percent from Gevanter could elect Fazio.
So, what happens if the GOP don’t win? Perhaps do not read too much into it, but it may be momentarily demoralizing for Republicans. SD-36 and seats like it in the suburbs chased the GOP away in 2018 and 2020. No doubt, they want to start the process of winning them back, but it may not quite be that simple. It’s too soon to know if the Republicans have “fixed” their suburban problem, regardless of the result here, but this would be a good start for them.
Winning the seat will not affect the GOP’s bottom line in Hartford, but believe it or not, the Senate was an 18-18 tie as recently as three years ago. Should Republicans have any hope of climbing back into relevance in Connecticut politics, this is one they’ll need in their column at some point.
While we currently believe the Democrats will squeak out another win, a Republican victory is plausible, and would not be a major surprise.