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Monday, November 19 Local

Bergstein wins in upset of Frantz in 36th District race

UPDATED WEDNESDAY 9:45 A.M. — Greenwich Democrat Alexandra Bergstein has declared victory in the 36th state senate district after numbers from the Secretary of State’s office shows her ahead.

Bergstein knocked off incumbent Republican State Sen. L. Scott Frantz in a major upset, becoming the first Democrat to win the seat, which covers all of Greenwich as well as portions of Stamford and New Canaan, since 1930. According to the state’s numbers, Bergstein defeated Frantz, a five-term incumbent, by a little more than 600 votes, winning 22,097 votes to Frantz’s 21,474.

The numbers were enough that Bergstein declared on Wednesday that, "We did prevail."

Frantz and his campaign could not immediately be reached for comment.

Her victory capped off a historic night for Greenwich Democrats who, after being shut out of the state house for a century, also elected Stephen Meskers in an upset victory over incumbent Republican State Rep. Michael Bocchino in the 150th district.

"I am elated. I am humbled. I am grateful and I am so ready to serve," Bergstein said Wednesday morning.

Frantz won Greenwich by close to 1,000 votes, and also appears to have carried the portion of the district extending into New Canaan. But Bergstein decisively won with voters in North Stamford, taking 59 percent of votes cast there.

Bergstein said Tuesday evening that she was pleased with her campaign and those of her Democratic running mates. “We have run incredible races. I’m so proud,” she said.

In recent weeks, Democrats in the district viewed the race as a chance to break a nearly 90-year Republican hold on the seat.

The last Democrat elected to the 36th state Senate District was H. Allen Barton in 1930, and Frantz had been easily elected to his five previous terms in the office.

But Bergstein ran an aggressive campaign that captured attention not often focused on the taken-for-granted district. In the closing weeks, she challenged Frantz on issues including gun safety laws and women’s health. She questioned his leadership of a bipartisan group of legislators who fashioned the post-Sandy Hook gun laws, among the toughest in the nation, and criticized his support of Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Stefanowski, who was endorsed by the National Rifle Association.

Frantz responded in ads and mailers, stressing his role in crafting the legislation and his support for the final package while claiming Bergstein did not understand the state’s legislative process.

Frantz, as he has in the past, focused on economic issues throughout the campaign, pointing to reforms — including spending and bonding caps — he and other Republicans had been able to get into the two-year bipartisan budget passed earlier this year.

Frantz criticized Bergstein’s proposals to reintroduce tolls to state highways and move the state’s pension obligation to a shared-risk plan as impractical.

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The issue of tolls weighed heavily on the campaign, with Frantz saying they would amount to another tax, burdening state residents who already pay a high gas tax, while Bergstein noted Connecticut is the only state in the region without highway tolls, allowing out-of-state drivers to use Connecticut roads for free.

Calling herself a “different kind of Democrat,” Bergstein said she would work outside of Hartford’s two-party system, while Frantz kept his experience in office and expertise on the economy at the center of his run.

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