New Haven to Hold Special Election for Open State Senate Seat

Jan 13, 2014

Gary Holder-Winfield, left, and Juan Candelaria, right, are both interested in Toni Harp's vacated state senate seat. The special election is February 25.
Credit Thomas MacMillan/Melissa Bailey / The New Haven Independent

Two incumbent state legislators and a former alderman plan on running in next month’s special election for New Haven’s open state Senate seat. The post became vacant after Toni Harp became the city’s new mayor.

Bass said a generational shift in power is underway in New Haven, and city politics is competitive.
Toni Harp is now the mayor of New Haven, after serving as a state senator for 21 years.
Credit Paul Bass / The New Haven Independent

Paul Bass, editor of The New Haven Independent, said one big question is how much influence the city may lose with the change. "Toni Harp was a state senator for 21 years," he said, "and she co-chaired the Appropriation Committee, a very powerful post. One concern in New Haven is, are we going to have less access to state money, or will Harp, who is now the mayor, whether her relationship with the governor will make up for it?"

Two candidates, Gary Holder-Winfield and Juan Candelaria, have both chaired the legislature’s Black and Puerto Rican caucus. Holder-Winfield played a key role in Connecticut’s repeal of the death penalty. Candelaria would be New Haven’s first Latino to hold a state senate seat. Though the candidates are all Democrats, the third, former alderman Darnell Goldson, has worked on several political campaigns, including for Republican Linda MacMahon.

Bass said a generational shift in power is underway in New Haven, and city politics is competitive. "For the first time in 20 years," he said, "Yale got a new president, our biggest corporation. We had our first new school superintendent in 20 years. Talented people who had been in positions of elected office or government for decades now see openings and the chance to advance."

Two candidates said that if they don’t get the party’s endorsement, they’ll petition to be on the ballot.

New Haven’s election for the 10th Senatorial district seat takes place on February 25.