Chapin heads to the state Senate
Republican Clark Chapin of New Milford earned strong voter endorsement Tuesday to capture the 30th District's state Senate seat in Hartford.
Rep. Chapin grabbed the victory with 22,423 votes from the 14-town region, outpolling Democratic candidate Bill Riiska of Lakeville, who garnered 18,276 votes.
"I'm thrilled to be the senator for the 30th," Rep. Chapin said on election night.
"I know this will be entirely different than representing the 67th District in the House, with 14 towns now, but I want my constituents to know that I intend to handle constituent services at the same level that Andrew (Roraback) has for the last 12 years."
The 30th District includes 14 municipalities in northwestern and western Connecticut, extending from the Massachusetts border south to Brookfield.
In his hometown, Mr. Chapin had a strong showing with a 7,179 to 4,032 advatage.
Kent voters supported Mr. Riiska, 881 to 683.
Warren voters threw their support behind Mr. Chapin by a 457 to 320 margin.
"I knew it was an up-hill battle from the start," Mr. Riiska said. "Brookfield and New Milford represented well over half of the district and is a more conservative area than the northern parts and I tend to be less conservative than Mr. Chapin."
"I'm quite pleased with the effort expended in my campaign," he added. "The problem was there were too many people voting to have one-on-one contact with all of them."
The two candidates did not stand far apart on key issues of job growth and spending controls in state government. On the political experience side, however, Mr. Chapin had the edge.
Mr. Chapin came to the race with name recognition in the largest town in the district, New Milford, from which he has served as the state representative for the 67th District for 12 years.
He also sat on the New Milford Town Council for five years prior to his seat in the state legislature.
Mr. Chapin comes from a local dairy farming family with long political ties in New Milford, including a 10-year tenure as first selectman by his father, Clifford Chapin.
He noted Tuesday night that when he declared victory his plurality was relatively small.
With two of the 14 towns yet to turn in complete numbers by 10:30 p.m. -- Falls Village and Litchfield -- his lead by unofficial tally was by 3,500 votes.
"I've been telling supporters who thought this was a sure thing for me," Mr. Chapin noted, "that I'm as much of an unknown face in the northern section of the district as Mr. Riiska was in the southern end."
Mr. Riiska, an attorney from Lakeville, came into the race relatively unknown locally.
His experience in government relations has come as chairman of a Northwestern Connecticut Chamber of Commerce committee. He also has served as board of directors chairman for the chamber and on the United Way board.
In 2010, Mr. Riiska ran for the 63rd District seat, losing by a small margin.
Yet he had believed the political climate was changing in his favor, with a Democratic governor in Dannel Malloy and a primarily Democratic legislature.
Rep. Chapin will replace long-standing Republican state Senator Andrew Roraback, who vacated the 30th state Senate District seat in favor of what turned out to be a losing challenge to Democrat Elizabeth Esty for the U.S. House of Representiatives' 5th District seat.
For more election photos, check www.newmilfordspectrum.com.