Democrat Phil Young scores upset in 120th, a GOP stronghold
STRATFORD — Democrat Phil Young scored a stunning upset on Tuesday in Stratford, defeating well-known Republican Bill Cabral by slightly more than 60 votes in a contest to fill the 120th House seat vacated by Mayor Laura Hoydick on Jan. 2.
By winning, Young becomes the first Democrat in 44 years to represent Stratford’s 120th, which covers most of the North End. The unofficial tally was 1,615 for Young and 1,552 for Cabral.
Although most party regulars — even Democrats — thought Young’s chances weren’t good, he said he wouldn’t have become a candidate if he thought that his chances weren’t at least 50-50.
“As I saw the results coming in, I said to myself, ‘Wow, we got this,’ ” the winner said. “To do this in five weeks is pretty unbelievable.”
Young said he received a congratulatory call from Cabral. “No hard feelings between us,” he said.
Officials are saying that a recount isn’t necessary.
Democrats seized the moment as an indictment of President Donald Trump.
“We’ve seen Donald Trump’s scare tactics fail in New Jersey and Virginia, and tonight, Connecticut voters proved they will reject them as well,” said state Democratic Party Chairman Nick Balletto.
”Whether it is the legislature, candidates for statewide office, or candidates for federal office, one thing should be made certain, Connecticut Democrats are ready to fight back,” he said.
Cabral and Young are friends, so this was a genteel campaign as Stratford elections go. Cabral stressed his opposition to Gov. Dannel Malloy’s highway toll idea while Young, a chef by profession, said that he had “the winning recipe.”
Hoydick resigned from her 120th seat on Jan, 2, forcing Tuesday’s special election.
The last time there was a special election to represent the 120th House District, in March 2010, the turnout was 22.9 percent. In that race, Hoydick slipped by Democrat Janice Anderson to replace former Rep. John Harkins, who had stepped down a couple of months earlier, about three weeks after being sworn in as Stratford's mayor.
In Tuesday’s election, only 17.5 percent of the voters in the 120th bothered to vote.
The 120th district has 18,118 registered voters. Of these, 5,361 are Democrats, 3,958 are Republicans, 8,601 are unaffiliated and 198 belong to minor parties. One obstacle that both candidates faced was the erroneous impression that the election was a primary, in which only one party was involved. In fact, all registered voters could have voted.
Young defeated Cabral in another aspect — on Facebook. Young had 623 likes on his campaign wall while Cabral had 162 as of election day. Still, Cabral seemed to have a big edge over Young when it came to lawn signs. But Facebook likes, as with lawn signs, don’t vote.
Stratford has had its share of special elections in recent months. Although there were none in 2017, there were three in 2016, on Feb. 2, to fill the seat vacated by the death of state Rep. Terry Backer; on May 24, to fill a Zoning Commission vacancy and on Oct. 13, to fill two Town Council resignations.
Town Hall officials say that Tuesday’s contest in the 120th cost between $23,000 and $28,000, or about $7 to $8 per vote.