State Capital Notes …
All six New England states voted for Hillary Clinton in the race for the White House, despite her loss nationally in the electoral college. It’s unclear how the 115th Congress and President-Elect Donald Trump will act on proposals by Clinton and her Democratic rival Bernie Sanders for free college and reduced student debt. Among highlights of the 2016 elections …
- New Hampshire and Vermont elected Republican governors, increasing the slate of GOP governors in New England to four
- Maggie Hassan’s election to the U.S. Senate gave women Democrats control of New Hampshire’s congressional delegation; women are also slated to fill House speakers’ posts in Maine and Vermont
- Republican gains in the Connecticut state Senate produced an 18–18 tie
- Maine voters approved a hike in the minimum wage and new income tax for those with incomes of $200,000 or higher to fund public education
- Maine voters also made a national splash by approving “rank choice” voting which would allow voters to rank their choices of candidates in elections
- Massachusetts voters rejected a call for more charter schools
- Maine, Massachusetts voters approved recreational use of marijuana.
Connecticut election results
All six Democratic congressional incumbents easily defeated their challengers, as the state voted handily for Clinton in the race for president.
It was a different story In the Connecticut General Assembly. In the state senate, the election produced an 18-18 tie. Republicans picked up three seats by unseating two Democrats and winning an open seat. Sen. Dante Bartolomeo (D) lost her re-election bid to Republican Len Suzio; veteran legislator Sen. Joseph Crisco Jr. (D) lost his race to Republican George Logan. In the contest for an open seat, Republican Heather Somers beat former Democratic State Rep. Timothy Bowles.
Democrats maintain that the state constitution requires the lieutenant governor to vote in cases of a tie vote. No decisions have been made regarding the appointment of committee chairs, which to date has been made by the leader of the majority party.
Republicans also gained eight seats in the House, where Democrats held on to a 79 – 72 majority. Republicans unseated six Democrats and won two open seats.
Lawmakers will choose a new speaker to replace outgoing Speaker Brendan Sharkey. The leading candidate is current House Majority Leader, Joseph Aresimowicz. In the state Senate, Democrats chose Martin Looney to be senate president pro tempore, while Republicans tapped Sen. Len Fasano to be the leader of the GOP Caucus.
Maine election results
In a rematch in the 2nd congressional district, incumbent Congressman Bruce Poliquin (R) defeated challenger and former NEBHE Chair Emily Cain 54% to 45%. In the 1st congressional district, incumbent Chellie Pingree easily won re-election, defeating Republican challenger Mark Holbrook.
In a close race for the White House, Clinton beat Trump 47% to 45%.
In the Maine state Legislature, Senate Republicans maintained control by a one-vote margin, 18–17. In the House, Democrats have the majority, 76-72 with two Independents.
In the House, lawmakers chose Democrat Rep. Sara Gideon of Freeport to succeed outgoing speaker, Mark Eves. Senate President Republican Micheal Thibodeau was re-elected to his post.
Question 1: Legalization and Regulation of Recreational Marijuana. Passed
Question 2: New income tax for household incomes higher than $200,000 to fund public education. Passed
Question 3: Require background checks before the sale or transfer of firearms between individuals not licensed as dealers. Failed
Question 4: Raise the minimum wage to $12 in increments by 2020. Passed
Question 5: Rank choice voting which would allow voters to rank their choices of candidates in elections and to have ballots recounted at the state level in multiple rounds in which last place candidates are eliminated until a candidate wins by majority. Passed
Question 6: Allows $100 million in bonds for transportation projects. Passed
Gov. Paul LePage remains opposed to ballot questions 2 and 5, saying they would hurt the Maine economy.
Massachusetts election results
Nationally, all nine Democratic congressional incumbents were re-elected while Clinton trounced Trump, 61% to 34% in the race for president.
In the Massachusetts state Legislature, Democrats continued to hold a wide majority over Republicans. In the House, Democrats had a supermajority, 124–33 while in the Senate, Democrats retained control, 34 to 6. There are no anticipated changes in the House and Senate Leadership. House Speaker Robert DeLeo is expected to be re-elected to his post as is Senate President Stan Rosenberg.
Question 1: Expand slot machine gaming (allow at tracks) Failed
Question 2: Expand charter schools (up to 12 new approvals) Failed
Question 3: Improve farm animal confines (space to stand, turn) Passed
Question 4: Legalize marijuana (regulate and tax) Passed
New Hampshire election results
In a closely watched race, Clinton narrowly edged Trump 46.8% to 46.5% ,while former Gov. and Democrat, Maggie Hassan squeaked by incumbent Republican Kelly Ayotte 48% to 47.9% in the race for U.S. Senate. Democrat Carol Shea-Porter defeated incumbent Frank Guinta in their fourth matchup. Incumbent Democrat Annie Kuster was re-elected, defeating Jim Lawrence 50% to 45%.
In the race for governor, Republican Chris Sununu defeated Democrat Colin Van Ostern 49% to 48%. In the state Legislature, Republicans kept control of the House—the largest state chamber in America—220 to 180. Both Speaker Shawn Jasper and Senate President Chuck Morse were re-elected to their posts.
Rhode Island election results
Both Democratic congressmen, David Cicilline and James Langevin easily defeated their opponents. Democrat Clinton soundly defeated Trump in the race for president, 55% to 39%.
In the Rhode Island General Assembly, Speaker Nicholas Mattiello who won re-election by 85 votes was nominated by the Democratic Caucus to be re-elected as speaker when lawmakers convene in January. The Senate Democratic Caucus re-elected Senate President M. Teresa Paiva Weed to be Senate President. Democrats hold supermajorities in the House and Senate.
The following ballot questions were all approved.
Question 1: Restores Ethics Commission’s full authority over state lawmakers Passed
Question 2: Twin River Proposal to build a new casino (pending local approval) Passed
Question 3: Proposal to borrow $27 million for new veterans home Passed
Question 4: Proposal to borrow $45 million to fund building new engineering school and new innovation center at University of Rhode Island Passed
Question 5: Proposal to borrow $70 million to fund new port projects at Quonset and Providence ports Passed
Question 6: Proposal to borrow $35 million for various environmental projects Passed
Question 7: Proposal to borrow $50 million for housing Passed
In throwing her support behind Question 4, Gov. Gina Raimondo said: “This bond builds on our success, and it positions us for greater, more sustainable success in the years ahead. By voting ‘yes’ on 4, you’re going to be voting for a stronger economy. You’re going to be voting for the innovative jobs that will position Rhode Island to lead a new industrial revolution in advanced industries and advanced manufacturing.”
Vermont Election Results
U.S. Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy easily defeated his challenger, Republican Scott Milne 60% to 32%. Democratic Congressman Peter Welch handily defeated his challenger, Erica Clawson of the Liberty Union Party, 77% to 9%. Clinton beat Trump, 56% to 29%.
In the race for governor, Lieutenant Gov. Republican Phil Scott defeated Democrat Sue Minter 51% to 43%.
In the Vermont General Assembly, Democrats control the House by a 98 to 52 margin, while in the Senate Democrats maintain a 23 to 7 margin. Democrats have chosen a new speaker, Rep Mitzi Johnson and Sen. Tim Ashe is slated to become the next president of the Senate.
Carolyn Morwick directs government and community relations at NEBHE and is former director of the Caucus of New England State Legislatures.