Powerful executives began taking refuge from high taxes in New York more than a century ago by moving to Greenwich, making it one of the wealthiest towns in America.
And a Republican enclave.
But its days as a GOP stronghold are done. In 2022, color Greenwich blue.
A majority of voters from the town came out Tuesday for incumbent Gov. Ned Lamont, himself a Greenwich Democrat.
Democrats swept all three of Greenwich’s state House of Representatives seats, and the race for Greenwich’s Senate seat, held by a Republican incumbent, is so close it’s going to a recount.
“On Tuesday we won as many seats as we won in the entire last century,” Greenwich Democratic Town Committee Chair Joe Angland said Wednesday.
“Our win in the 151st District is a first ever for a Democrat, and no one can remember when a Democrat last won the 149th District — it’s beyond the memory of anyone around,” Angland said.
On top of that, he said, “Steve Meskers kept his seat in the 150th District. When he won in 2018, it was the first time a Democrat did that in 106 years.”
In Greenwich’s senate race between incumbent Republican Ryan Fazio and Democrat challenger Trevor Crow, Fazio’s camp said Wednesday they are ahead by about 100 votes. The contest is set for a recount this week.
If Crow wins, Greenwich will be awash in a blue wave.
The town’s political landscape began to shift in earnest about six ago, Angland said.
“I do think there’s been an enormous change in Greenwich,” he said. “Not long ago it was two Republicans, or more, to one Democrat. There was a time where Democrats were an afterthought in elections. Now their views are well-accepted in town.”
According to the Town of Greenwich website, the largest portion of registered voters is unaffiliated – 39 percent as of this month. That’s followed by 30 percent who are registered Democrats, and just under 29 percent who are Republican.
One reason for the change is that a significant number of people moved to Greenwich from New York and other cities during the COVID-19 pandemic, Angland said.
“That bodes well for Democrats,” he said.
Another thing that helped Greenwich Democratic candidates was the state’s recent remapping of voting districts, which drew in a larger portion of Stamford, which tends Democratic.
Third, Angland said, is because of “the more extreme position of some of the Republican candidates.”
“The Greenwich Republican Town Committee is on the Trump end of the spectrum,” he said. “Candidates in the current Republican Party are staking out more Trump-like positions, and they won the battle for control of the Republican Town Committee this year.”
In January, a group of Republicans undertook a successful campaign to oust the committee chair, Dan Quigley, and several longtime members. The group wanted the party to focus on issues that included mask mandates, parental involvement in education, and support for former President Donald Trump.
Quigley said Wednesday that didn’t help on Election Day.
“What most people forget is that in Greenwich, the Republican Party is the minority party, and the current Republican Town Committee is a minority of the Republicans in Greenwich. So turnout was good for the other side. Then there were a lot of undecided voters and unaffiliated voters and moderates who came out and voted for Democrats. Is this a rebuke of Trump? That already happened in 2020. Trump was already unpopular in Greenwich, so any extension of that is not going to work.”
A majority of Greenwich voters supported Hillary Clinton over Trump in 2016 and Joe Biden over Trump in 2020.
In the race for the District 149 seat in the Connecticut House of Representatives, Democrat Rachel Khanna narrowly defeated the incumbent Republican Kimberly Fiorello. Khanna charged that Fiorello’s conservative views are too extreme.
She beat Fiorello by 210 votes, Khanna said Wednesday.
“What pulled me ahead were the national issues that are on a lot of people’s minds, especially the Supreme Court’s decision in June to overturn Roe” versus Wade and eliminate the nationwide right to abortion, Khanna said. “That was important to a lot of people. I heard it a lot.”
Another factor was that “a lot of young families moved to town after COVID, and a number of them are Democrats. That played a role,” Khanna said. “Young families spoke about gun safety in schools,” which was a big plank in her platform.
Fiorello declined to comment Wednesday, but her campaign released a statement congratulating her opponent, and reaffirming that, “Our leaders in Connecticut must respect the value of the dollar, protect individual rights and property rights, defend our law enforcement officers, champion parental voices for academic excellence and educational choice, and more.”
Democrat Hector Arzeno beat Republican Peter Sherr to take a 151st District seat in the House for his party for the first time in Greenwich history.
Arzeno said Wednesday he heard a lot on the campaign trail about abortion rights, gas prices and inflation, but in the end it came down to trust. His two terms on the Representative Town Meeting, Greenwich’s legislative body, helped him, Arzeno said.
“My positions on local issues were clear. That became relevant,” he said. “I told people my work is to represent them. That’s what they wanted to hear. Sometimes in politics you have people running for their own ambition, not for the concept of service. I ran on relevant issues and let people know I am authentic.”
Incumbent Democrat Meskers won a third District 150 seat in the House by defeating Republican Ed Lopez. Four years ago, Meskers became the first Democrat to win that seat since 1912, even though more Republicans are registered in the district than Democrats.
Beth MacGillivray, chairwoman of the Republican Town Committee, did not return a request for comment.
Angland said the secret to Tuesday’s success for Democrats was that “both parties have more people who are toward the middle than the extremes, and Greenwich Democrats picked candidates who are more in the middle.”