Bocchino win gives Greenwich Republicans reason to smile

Newly elected State Representative Michael Bocchino, at left, shares a happy hug with new colleague State Rep. Livvy Floren after his victory. — Ken Borsuk photo

Newly elected State Representative Michael Bocchino, at left, shares a happy hug with new colleague State Rep. Livvy Floren after his victory. — Ken Borsuk photo

While the gubernatorial and congressional races weren’t what Greenwich Republicans hoped for, the party was able to breathe a sigh of relief as newly elected state representative Michael Bocchino squeaked by Democrat Jill Oberlander in the 150th District for the Connecticut General Assembly.

As of late Tuesday night, according to the town, Mr. Bocchino had 3,340 votes to Ms. Oberlander’s 3,094. That was with all districts reporting though there were still absentee ballots to count. This is an ultra-thin margin but it’s enough to get the job done for Mr. Bocchino who will officially begin his first term in Hartford in January.

This was the first competitive political race for the both Mr. Bocchino and Ms. Oberlander as they sought to fill the seat being vacated by state Rep. Stephen Walko, who did not run for a second term after moving out of the district. Both candidates ran aggressive campaigns, but it was Mr. Bocchino who pulled out the victory, continuing Republican dominance in town.

He will now join a legislative delegation to Hartford with state Reps. Livvy Floren (R-149th) and Fred Camillo (R-151st), both of whom ran unopposed this year. State Sen. L. Scott Frantz (R-36th) cruised to victory in his race for a fourth term against Green Party candidate Ed Heflin. All four were in the mood to celebrate at Republican headquarters at the Hyatt Regency in Old Greenwich as they awaited results in the governor’s race between incumbent Gov. Dannel Malloy and Republican challenger Tom Foley. And while that result proved to be disappointing, the party faithful were eager to cheer for Mr. Bocchino.

“This was a monumental feat for us,” Mr. Bocchino said in his victory speech, noting the town’s more than 100-year history of sending nothing but Republican representatives to Hartford. “This is the biggest shot across the bow of the entire town of Greenwich. It says we raced against the entire Democratic Town Committee and we won.”

To the sounds of raucous applause, Mr. Bocchino thanked his supporters and future colleagues, saying that when the chips were down they all pulled together for the victory. And while he neglected to thank his wife and kids during the speech, something he attributed to being overwhelmed by the victory, he quickly corrected that when speaking with the Post, calling them “the most important three people in this entire campaign.”

“Without them I wouldn’t have even been out here running,” Mr. Bocchino said.

Admitting that the victory was a huge relief to him after all he had put into his first campaign for political office, Mr. Bocchino said that he was waiting for the impact of the win to really sink in.

“It’s an amazing feeling,” Mr. Bocchino said. “It’s humbling. That’s what it really is. I can’t put it into words. To have so many people say they feel so strongly about the person that you are and what you represent is a humbling experience. I think tomorrow the enormity of this is really going to hit me. I think it might be difficult to get my kids off to school after all this revelry tonight. I’m trying to soak it all in right now and then come back to the ground. I’m on cloud nine right now and we’ve got a lot of work ahead of us.”

In her concession, Ms. Oberlander said she wished Mr. Bocchino the best and urged everyone to get behind him. She called it a “great campaign” and said she believed she and Mr. Bocchino wanted to do what was best for the town.

“It has been an honor and a privilege to be your candidate in this race,” Ms. Oberlander said. “It has been a privilege to meet so many fellow Greenwich residents in this district and throughout the town, and I am thankful for those who invited me to their homes, introduced me to their friends, stopped to speak to me at events or on the street, and took time out of their busy lives to help me to become an informed candidate, and for them to become informed about the issues and who was running. I’m also so proud of our campaign. It was positive, it was substantive, people across town today commented on the professional nature of our campaign, and I know how much all of you contributed to this race, and I cannot thank you enough.”

For the Democrats, the results were a disappointment, as they had thought the race was a real opportunity for a win, given the breakdown of registered voters. The 150th District has close to one-third registered Republicans, one-third Democrats and one-third unaffiliated, making it the most competitive district in town for Democrats. And Democratic Town Committee Chairman Frank Farricker said Ms. Oberlander was able to at least make it close.

“Coming into this election, everybody knew it was going to be close, no question about it,” Mr. Farricker told the Post. “And Jill really outperformed in every district. Districts that we lose two-to-one, two and a half-to-one, she only lost by 100 votes. Districts we never win, she won.”

Mr. Farricker strongly praised Ms. Oberlander for her work on the campaign trail.

“This was the singularly, the best campaign involving cooperation between the Republicans and the Democrats that I’ve ever been involved in,” Mr. Farricker said. “As you know, there weren’t any fights about signs or train stations, or this, that and the other thing, so I’d like to give my congratulations to the Republicans for running a very strong race, and a good race for the town.”

Kevin Webb contributed to this story.

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