Champagne: “We’re taxing people out of the state right now.”

December 3, 2018

Article as it appeared in the Journal Inquirer

Republicans extended their decades-long winning streak in the 35th Senate District on Tuesday after Vernon Mayor Daniel Champagne took an early lead in returns over Democratic candidate John Perrier and never relinquished it.

Champagne defeated the former Stafford selectman 22,873-22,009, a relatively narrow margin in the sprawling district, which encompasses Ashford, Chaplin, Coventry, Eastford, Hampton, Pomfret, Stafford, Tolland, Union, Vernon, Willington, Woodstock, and the eastern section of Ellington.

In a back room at Willington Pizza House, where Champagne monitored voting returns with supporters, family members, and campaign aides, results for each town came in one by one for close to three hours, eliciting either cheers and applause when he carried the community and words of support and encouragement when he didn’t.

At certain points, the race appeared too narrow to call, and extended waits for numbers from certain towns kept the room on edge. After Vernon and Woodstock swung in Champagne’s favor, however, the mayor felt comfortable declaring victory.

“It’s been a long journey, but it’s worth it,” he told the crowd.

Champagne and Perrier ultimately split the 13 communities that constitute the 35th Senate District, with the Republican taking Chaplin, Coventry, Eastford, Ellington, Stafford, Tolland, Union, Vernon, and Woodstock, and the Democrat winning Ashford, Hampton, Pomfret, and Willington. Champagne took Perrier’s hometown 2,586-2,046, while Perrier gave Champagne a closer-than-expected contest in Vernon, where the results were 5,898-5,172 in favor of the mayor.

Champagne said he will focus on shoring up infrastructure, providing relief for homeowners with failing concrete foundations, and reducing the state’s ballooning deficit.

High debt, he added, is destabilizing the state’s finances and making Connecticut look less and less attractive to both residents and businesses, and it will be up to lawmakers to craft a solution that doesn’t increase the burden on the middle class.

“We’ve got to find a way out of this that isn’t just increasing taxes, because we’re taxing people out of the state right now,” he said. “If we don’t put a stop to this, there are going to be real consequences.”

Champagne said that he will continue to hold the position of mayor while serving in the General Assembly, saying that both are part-time jobs and that he has a full-time town administrator to manage day-to-day operations in Vernon. He said he would have to evaluate the demands of his new role to determine whether he will run for mayor again in 2019.

Champagne’s win continues the trend of Republican victories in the district, where outgoing Sen. Tony Guglielmo, R-Stafford, held the seat for 25 years. In February, Guglielmo announced that he would not seek reelection and endorsed the Vernon mayor to succeed him.