Republican Ryan Fazio vows to ‘bring people together’ after winning Senate seat

August 24, 2021

Article as it appeared in the Greenwich Time

A day after his victory in a special election, newly minted state Senator-elect Ryan Fazio said he was eager to get to work.

The Greenwich Republican defeated Democrat Alexis Gevanter and petition candidate John Blankley in the race to finish the term of Alex Kasser, who resigned unexpectedly in June.

“The voters of Greenwich, Stamford and New Canaan sent a message loud and clear to the state Capitol in Connecticut that a change is going to come,” Fazio said to loud cheers from a crowd of nearly 100 supporters at his campaign headquarters as he declared victory Tuesday night.

“Together we can reduce taxes and the cost of living and create economic opportunity for all. We can once again make our neighborhood safe and support local police. We can protect personal freedom and local control, and we can bring people together to create a brighter future for all,” he said.

According to unofficial results Wednesday from the Secretary of the State’s website, Fazio won 50.12 percent of the vote in the 36th Senate District, which covers all of Greenwich as well as portions of Stamford and New Canaan. Gevanter took 47.58 percent of the vote, while Blankley, who had been a Democrat but broke away from the party when it supported Gevanter, earned 2.29 percent.

Breaking the numbers down in the district, Fazio won Greenwich with 6,012 votes to Gevanter’s 5,252 and Blankley’s 312. Gevanter won Stamford with 2,462 votes to Fazio’s 1,785 and Blankley’s 78 — but not by enough to overcome Fazio’s wins in Greenwich and New Canaan, where he received 1,116 votes to Gevanter’s 746 and Blankley’s 17.

Fazio’s victory put seat back in Republican hands after three years. In 2018, when she won her first term in an upset over incumbent Republican L. Scott Frantz, Kasser was the first Democrat elected to the seat since H. Allen Barton in 1930.

On Wednesday afternoon, Fazio said he was busy thanking his supporters and looking forward to getting to work as soon as possible. Fazio will finish the rest of Kasser’s term, which runs through the end of 2022.

No date has been set for Fazio’s swearing-in ceremony, but he said it will probably happen next week. He said he is already talking with state Republican leadership about committee assignments.

“It’s an ongoing discussion right now,” Fazio said. “There are areas like health care, education and fiscal matters that I think are top issues in Connecticut and issues where I would be passionate about making a difference.”

“There’s been a lot of debate recently about reducing crime, car thefts in particular, and juvenile crime,” Fazio said. “I think there are smart policy changes that can be made.”

He said he is also concerned about cost of living in the state and is looking forward to addressing the cost of health care and electricity. As a member of the minority caucus in Hartford, he said he wanted to work with Democrats.

“The voters said in this election that they want to see more common sense centrism and bipartisanship,” Fazio said.

Gevanter issued a statement Tuesday night about the race.

“I entered this race because Connecticut is a great place to live, work and raise a family. I wanted to make it even better by doing what I’ve always done, which is to listen, bring people together to find common ground, and deliver results,” she said in the statement.

“Despite tonight’s disappointing results, my commitment to the very values that make our community the inclusive, kind and caring place we are all proud to call home has never been stronger,” Gevanter said in the statement.

She told Hearst Connecticut Media on Tuesday that she faced some roadblocks in the race for Kasser’s empty seat.

“This was a really short special election,” she said. “I was a first-time candidate, and it takes time to get your name out there and your message out there. So, look, I’m so proud of the fact that we were able to galvanize so many people — volunteers, supporters, voters — so quickly and bring about so much excitement. I feel honored, and I’m proud of our team. And, yeah, we fell short, and that’s disappointing, of course, but I’m really proud of how much we were able to accomplish in such a short period of time.”

Speaking to her future, Gevanter said: “I know that I am going to take the next few weeks, play with my little guys — 4 and 2 years old. I’m really excited for that. And then, of course, I’m going to just be thinking about how I can best serve our community.”

Blankley in his own concession, congratulated Fazio and advised him to “concentrate on representing all the voters of the 36th District.”

“It is instructive that the largest voting block is now the unaffiliated voters. I am proud of a campaign that gave these voters a voice and especially proud that I achieved” 3 percent of the total votes cast in Greenwich, he said. “In the face of the most intense support from the highest levels for my opponents, we still achieved an historic vote total.”