New Haven – U.S. Rep. Chris Murphy was declared the winner of the Democratic Senate primary race just before 9 p.m. Tuesday, eliciting cheers and clapping from the mostly-full ballroom at the Omni Hotel.
With about 500 of 693 precincts reporting, Murphy seemed to have a commanding lead of approximately two votes for every one cast for Susan Bysiewicz, the former secretary of the state.
Around 9:30, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., took the stage to offer words of encouragement to Murphy, who will now face Republican Senate nominee Linda McMahon.
Blumenthal, who defeated McMahon for a Senate seat in 2010, said, "Tonight is big, but we need to carry the momentum forward."
"He'll be against a 50 million dollar or more attack machine, like I was, but he will win with your support," Blumenthal said.
Next up was Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, who introduced Murphy, saying Murphy has a plan to bring jobs back to the state.
Murphy walked up to the stage to the song "The Fighter" by Gym Class Heroes and raucous applause and cheers from the supporters that surrounded the stage.
He marked a distinct difference between himself and McMahon. Murphy said he comes from a middle-class background and is committed to helping the middle class. He compared his 10-year legislative career to McMahon's spent as an executive with the WWE.
"Over the last 10 years I've been running to people to help them," he said. "She's spent the last 10 years running over people to help herself."
"We understand, Chris!" one woman yelled out as Murphy pledged to help the middle class.
Murphy also thanked Bysiewicz, who held a primary-night event at the Mattabesett Canoe Club in her hometown of Middletown. She "ran a spirited campaign and sharpened our focus for November," Murphy said.
Afterwards, Murphy told reporters that his large margin of victory has shown "Democrats from across the state are united to prevent Linda McMahon from buying this election."
The crowd here started to fill in around 8:20 p.m. and U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn. arrived around 8:30. Supporters in "I'm on Team Murphy" T-shirts with the number 12 on the back mingled with others in suits and dresses. Two flatscreen TVs are set up showing the results streaming in, but no one cheered or seemed excited until people learned the Associated Press had declared Murphy the winner just before 9 p.m.
Bob and Liz Hanahan came from Bethlehem to support Murphy, for whom they put signs in their yard and campaigned. Murphy is humble, likeable and respectful, Bob Hanahan said. Asked if he was confident Murphy would win, Bob Hanahan said "Only because he seems to be so confident."
Looking ahead to the general election, Bob Hanahan said unofficial winner Linda McMahon on the Republican side would be a difficult opponent. McMahon lost to Blumenthal in a senate race two years ago. The winner in November will take the seat of retiring U.S. Senator Joseph Lieberman.
"Linda McMahon has learned a lot and she's going to be very tough to beat this time," Hanahan said of the former WWE executive from Greenwich. "She's matured her message."
"But Chris has a lot of supportive people," Liz Hanahan added.