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Ritter celebrates Democratic state Senate 20th District primary win over Satti

By Brian Hallenbeck and Tess Townsend

Publication: theday.com

Published August 12. 2014 8:37PM   Updated September 12. 2014 1:39PM
Dana Jensen/The Day
Betsy Ritter, center, reacts as the final numbers for Bozrah, Old Lyme and Montville are posted at the Democratic Headquarters in Waterford for her Democratic Primary race against Bill Satti for State Senate Tuesday, Aug. 12, 2014. Standing next to Ritter is her husband, Grant Ritter, left, and supporter Jay Levin of New London.

Waterford — As the final results rolled in from Old Lyme, Bozrah and Montville, Rep. Betsy Ritter, D-Waterford, pumped her fist in the air.

There were cheers and claps, then more cheers and more claps, as Ritter and members of her campaign realized she had won by a landslide in the primary against New London Democratic Town Committee Chairman Bill Satti.

“I want the totals. Give me the totals,” Ritter piped as she crossed the room.

Unofficial results as of 10 p.m. showed Ritter with a 2-to-1 ratio in the voting in the eight-town 20th District. Unofficial preliminary numbers show she beat Satti 2,795 to 1,446.

Satti, 55, arrived at his Bank Street campaign headquarters just after the close of polls and huddled at a computer screen with his campaign manager, Michael Farina. At about 8:30, he stood and headed silently to the back of the room and made a call on his cellphone — to Ritter.

“The voters of the district have chosen a senator, Betsy Ritter, and they didn’t leave any doubt about it,” Satti said, returning to a throng of supporters. “Her campaign did a great job. They got the vote out.

“This is democracy at its finest.”

Satti said he and Ritter, who is 63, had kept their campaigning “above board,” and pledged to support the “Democratic team” in November.

In a speech following Satti’s concession, Ritter thanked her family and members of her campaign for their support. She called her primary campaign a “long road.”

“I think I’ve earned a reputation for working hard, doing that, and for advocacy,” Ritter said as the atmosphere settled at her campaign headquarters located in Jordan Brook Plaza.

Ritter swept every 20th district town other than New London. The 20th district covers Bozrah, East Lyme, Montville, New London, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, Salem and Waterford.

When Ritter won the Democratic endorsement at a convention in May, some Montville delegates at the convention, including Town Committee Chair and Town Council Chairman Joseph Jaskiewicz, leaned toward Satti.

Montville resident Angelo Callis, a volunteer with Ritter’s campaign, said of the results, “I think the residents of Montville speak for themselves.” Town voters chose Ritter over Satti by a ratio of 2 to 1.

Satti would have needed to do exceedingly well in New London to offset Ritter’s strength in Waterford. Although the turnout of better than 20 percent of New London’s Democrats outstripped previous primary turnouts, it wasn’t nearly enough.

“If we got out the vote, we could have done it,” state Rep. Ernest Hewett of New London said. “It just shows that the distance between saying you’re going to vote and voting is 300 miles.”

Ritter will run against Republican Paul Formica, the East Lyme first selectman, on Election Day in November.

She said earlier Tuesday that her strategy leading up to the primary was to go door to door in neighborhoods throughout the district. People are more honest about their views in one-on-one conversation than in a crowd, Ritter said.

She said she placed an emphasis on neighborhoods outside of the 38th district, which she has represented in the House of Representatives for the past 10 years. All towns in the 20th district except Waterford and part of Montville lie outside the 38th district.

“I went out virtually every day, knocking on as many doors as I could,” Ritter said standing outside of one of Waterford’s polling locations, the Oswegatchie School.

New London Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio praised Satti’s efforts to unseat Ritter.

“It’s been 40 years since New London’s had its own state senator, and Bill did his best to reverse that,” Finizio said. “He made us proud and will continue to lead our party to a win in November.”

While acknowledging the outcome was “very disappointing,” Satti said he accepted it, and congratulated and thanked those who worked on his campaign.

Twitter: @bjhallenbeck
Twitter: @ConnecticuTess

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