AREAWIDE— Republican Art Linares Jr. of Westbrook was elected as the new state senator for the 33rd District Tuesday, defeating the Democratic nominee, State Rep.Jim Crawford of Westbrook, in a race where Green Party nominee Melissa Schlag of Haddam garnered more than 10 percent of the total vote.
Linares, who succeeds ten-term Democratic State Senator Eileen Daily of Westbrook in the 12-town district, becomes the first Republican to hold the seat since 1992, and at age 24, one of the youngest state senators in Connecticut history. Linares carried only half of the district towns, but ran up wide margins in the northern towns of the district to outpoll Crawford by about 2,000 votes. A preliminary total showed Linares with 20,236 votes to 18,153 for Crawford, with Schlag pulling nearly 4,000 votes.
Linares carried Clinton, Colchester ,East Haddam, East Hampton, Haddam, Lyme and the sections of Old Saybrook in the district. Crawford carried Westbrook, the home town for both he and Linares, Chester, Deep River, Essex and Portland. But the Democrat’s margins were narrow in some towns, less than 50 votes in both Deep River and Essex. Schlag polled more than 1,000 votes in her hometown of Haddam.
The results in the three Region 4 towns include Chester- 975 for Crawford, 793 for Linares, and 228 for Schlag. In Deep River, it was 1,073 for Crawford, 1,049 for Linares, and 195 for Schlag. In Essex it was 1,762 for Crawford, 1,754 for Linares, and 243 for Schlag.
The mood was quiet among supporters at Crawford’s gathering at the Griswold Inn in Essex. The candidate remained sequestered in a side room with family members and his closest supporters as results from the four towns were phoned in. By 9:30 p.m. it became clear that Crawford was trailing. Daily and her husband, Jim, were also on hand with the group of supporters.
Crawford later told supporters he was more disappointed for them than for himself. “This did not turn out the way we hoped it would,” he said, adding “the kid worked hard and made it happen. We did the best we could, still it has been a hell of a lot of fun.”
There was excitement at the Linares gathering at the Water’s Edge in Westbrook, with more than 100 supporters cheering as Linares arrived to claim victory around 10:15 p.m. Linares hugged two key supporters who are both former state representatives for the 35th House District that has been represented for the last two years by Crawford, Republican Sidney Holbrook and Democrat Robert Landino. Holbrook held the House seat from 1982 to 1995, and was succeeded by Landino, who held the seat from 1995 to 2000.
Linares, who was a student in Crawford’s social studies class at Westbrook Middle School, praised his former teacher as “an honest and decent man.” He promised to “reach out” to both Crawford and Schlag and “welcome their input.” Linares also thanked his parents, father Arthur Linares Sr and mother, Robin, and his younger brother, Ryan, who served as campaign manager. “We have seen what business as usual has done to our state and tonight marks the dawn of a new era,” he said.
Schlag said she has no regrets about the race. “I am very proud of my accomplishments and a grass roots campaign,” she said. Schlag said she wishes Linares “strength and courage to fight for the people and not become a pawn of his party.”
Please note than an earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Art Linares lost the town of Lyme. Linares won the vote in the town of Lyme by 655 votes to Crawford’s 583 votes.