How unique was Lezlye Zupkus's upset of nine-term 89th-district state representative Vickie Nardello?
In a year dominated by incumbents and Democrats in Connecticut, it was the rare occasion of a Republican gaining a new seat in the general assembly. Tuesday night, Zupkus had appeared to win by a slim margin of just 231 votes in the district, encompassing Bethany, Cheshire and Prospect.
The race was won by a narrow margin, and Nardello rescinded her Tuesday night concession speech to Zupkus over the question of allegedly uncounted absentee ballots in Cheshire. Nardello later conceded, according to ctnewsjunkie.com, who add that Democrats may file a complaint about the race over late expenditures by outside groups.
This will be the first elected state position for Zupkus, a Mississippi native. The Prospect resident has previously served on the town's Planning and Zoning committee and worked in directorial roles for non-profits.
Patch: You won the election last night. How are you feeling today?
Zupkus: I have to tell you, it is very humbling and exciting. I don't think it's actually hit me yet. But it's very exciting to be elected. And to be able to represent the people in the 89th district. I'm looking forward to getting up to the capital and working hard, birding the gap between hartford and the community.
Patch: Your win was an upset in a night mostly dominated by incumbents. Did you see yourself as an underdog while you were running?
Zupkus: Nope -- never did. We didn't even think about it. When I decided to run, we went full-force. I really enjoy people. I like talking to people and listening to them. To me, going out and listening to people.
I went to a house in Bethany owned by a gentleman who probably was ... of little means. When he answered the door, I introduced myself and said, 'sir, tell me about you.' We talked for a while, and he looked at me and said, 'Thank you. No one has ever come to my house and listened to me.' I almost started crying.
It was my first state-level campaign. I was an elected official on Planning and Zoning when we started this campaign ... We hit the road running. I've been to probably five or six thousand houses and talked to thousands of people. We kept our head down and just kept working hard in the summer.
Patch: What are your plans when you get to Hartford?
Zupkus: i'm going up there to just jump in and swim, to start learning about what's going on. For instance, the early release program is one thing. That needs to stop. There's a saying, 'If it ain't broke don't fix it, but if it is, get rid of it.' And people were very upset my opponent voted for that program, which puts violent criminals on the street. And tax increases and wasteful spending -- we have to start doing the budget top down.
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