After months of political rallies, canvassing and oh-so-many television ads, the 2018 midterms are over. While there were surprises around the country, the name of the game in Connecticut was consistency. Just like before the election, Democrats are in control of all major branches of state government. Despite the displeasure over the current predicaments of Connecticut, Democrats are poised to expand their majorities in both chambers of the State Legislature. More locally, Mae Flexer (D) and Greg Haddad (D), who both represent Mansfield, won their elections for the State Senate and House respectively. Both have already built strong relationships with the student body, which will benefit students advocating for initiatives such as augmented university funding.
Hopefully, this outright control will bring about more stability in budget discussions. The last time Connecticut passed a budget, the initial proposal submitted was actually a Republican one with a few Democrats signing on. This budget (which, as many will remember, slashed UConn’s funding) was vetoed by Malloy. The new Democrat advantage makes it so they can afford a few defections and still have the votes to pass a budget. Not that this is something they should make a habit of, but it will likely alleviate the fears of in-state businesses that similarly panicked budget proceedings will occur.
As far as UConn goes, the state government is still in the control of those who tend to avoid cutting education funding if they can. However, the Democrats’ reluctance to cut funding at UConn and other state universities will not matter unless they can put the state’s finances back on track; if the economy gets worse, then funding will go down and tuition will go up. It’s as simple as that. Democrats need to prove that they can finally pull the state out of the economic slump that began with the 2008 recession.
The fact that Democrats held onto the governor’s mansion will also provide stability in the search for a new UConn president. The fact that the outgoing and incoming governor are from the same party makes it likely there will not be arguments about approval of whoever the Board of Trustees selects. However, President Herbst was approved of by both Republican governor Jodi Rell and the then-incoming Malloy, so it’s possible this is fixing a problem that wouldn’t have existed.
Overall, UConn shouldn’t expect very massive shake-ups in the near future solely based on election results. It will remain to be seen whether Ned Lamont, the new governor, will work as closely with UConn’s administration as Malloy did to secure funding and pursue new initiatives. Only time will tell.