In both the state and North Haven, Republican Linda McMahon of Greenwich, a former CEO and the party's endorsed candidate, and Democrat Chris Murphy of Cheshire, the U.S. Representative from the Fifth District, emerged victorious.
The two will now face off in the general election in November to fill the seat being vacated by Joe Lieberman this fall.
In North Haven, McMahon defeated Chris Shays, the former congressman from the Fourth Congressional District and a resident of Bridgeport, by a vote of 707 to 198. Murphy defeated the former secretary of state and Middletown resident Susan Bysiewicz by a margin of 473 to 206.
Voter turnout amounted to 20.2 percent, a sum the Democratic Registrar of Voters Patricia Jackson-Mitchell termed "average."
On Monday, she had seemed somewhat more optimistic — hoping, as she put it, “for a really good turnout. It’s going to be a day like today — beautiful,” she had said.
“It’s a Senate primary, so it’s a pretty high-profile race,” she said.
Statewide, with 77% of the precincts reporting at 10 p.m. Tuesday, McMahon was soundly defeating former U.S. Rep. Christopher Shays with 76% of the vote. Meanwhile, Murphy cruised by Bysiewicz, the Middletown native and former Secretary of the State, by a comfortable 66% to 34% margin.
In North Haven, voters registered as Republicans and those registered as Democrats stand in a virtual dead heat. According to Jackson-Mitchell, 3,706 voters in North Haven are registered as Democrats and 3,707 registered as Republicans.
Still, as the town has 15,162 voters, independent voters outnumber those affiliated with the two parties combined.
McMahon did herself no harm when placed phone calls from her North Haven field office, which is located within her statewide campaign headquarters on Washington Ave.
“She’s been in and out all the time,” said a campaign worker there.
In mid-July, she was ahead of Shays by 29 points statewide and had already defeated him for her party’s nomination by a ratio of 2-to-1.
In campaign contributions filed by July 15, had received the largest total from the residents of North Haven among the Senate candidates listed. To the general election, Murphy also carries the exuberant support of Walt Spader, who heads North Haven’s Democratic Town Committee and who had predicted Murphy would become the clear winner yesterday in the Democratic race.
“He’s got the experience that we need for the next U.S. senator,” Spader said earlier Tuesday. “He’s done a great job as the Fifth District Congressman. “It really is his time. He represents the values and goals that are closest to the people of the state of Connecticut ... he will do great in the general election.”
“Linda McMahon is all about her own money and wants to buy the seat,” Spader said. “But I think he’ll do great. Chris Murphy has shown his dedication. When I first met him in 1996, he was running the campaign against Nancy Johnson. Even back then, you could just see how much he cared. He’s got the grass-roots skills. He’s spent the time making the connections, and his support is widespread,” Spader said.
Republican Rich Monico, who heads the Board of Finance in a town where Republicans outnumber Democrats on boards and commissions, defended McMahon because he said she has the right skill set for the job.
“You want the person that has the most experience—the skill set to complete the task that the people want to complete . ... Her business background is an advantage,” he said.
Still, Monico pointed out that independent voters now constitute the biggest block of voters, and that party affiliation has a decreased importance for them.
“You need people in a position to move the town, move the state, move the country,” he said.
In the Fifth Congressional District, Elizabeth Esty emerged on the Democratic side with a convincing 43% to 34% margin (as of 10 p.m.) over the embattled Chris Donovan, once considered the strong frontrunner before a campaign-finance scandal involving several members of his staff, and dark-horse Dan Roberti (23%).
Republicans in the Fifth District went down to the wire, with favorite Andrew Roraback pulling it out with 34% of the vote, followed by Mark Greenberg (28%), Lisa Wilson-Foley (19%) and Justin Bernier (19%) as of 10 p.m.
In the Second Congressional District, East Lyme restaurateur Paul Formica was running away with the Republican primary over Madison’s Daria Novak by about a 2-to-1 ratio, as of 9 p.m. and was declared the winner.