In an upset, Republican Lezlye Zupkus has won what appears to be a narrow margin of victory -- 277 votes -- in Connecticut's 89th district. (See below for numbers from Zupkus's campaign and registrars.)
"We are excited," she says, "and I'm looking forward to helping to put Connecticut back on the right track in being a voice for the citizens of the 89th district."
The apparent win bucks a trend in an election that looks to favor both incumbents and Democrats. Zupkus, a Mississippi native, is a Republican and new to political office.
A campaign manager at Vickie Nardello's home said the candidate was spending time with her family this evening.
Update: 10:15 a.m.
Lezlye Zupkus is hanging on to a lead of 269 votes, but has not declared victory, saying Cheshire has not reported absentee ballots.
"We're very excited, to say the least. I just want to get the final numbers."
The numbers in that race as reported by Nardello's campaign and registrars:
- Nardello 1592
- Zupkus 1463
- Zupkus 2845
- Nardello 2090
- Nardello 2114
- Zupkus 1757
Update: 6:45 p.m.
Vickie Nardello and Lezlye Zupkus are both Prospect residents, and each will head to their homes to await results as voting wraps up in Bethany, Cheshire and Prospect.
"We're ready," said Zupkus. "We're excited." She acknowledged it's been a tiring day of travel, but says the excitement is keeping her going.
"I think it's been fantastic. People are very excited and very positive results in all the polls we've been to."
Zupkus says she will travel to Cheshire and Bethany's Democratic headquarters for appearances after results are announced.
Update: 9:45 a.m.
In the parking lot outside Town Hall in Bethany, State Rep. Vickie Nardello got a high-profile companion in her pollside pitch: U.S. Representative Rosa DeLauro.
DeLauro arrived at about 8:30, shortly before Nardello, greeting voters and shaking hands. The two joined forces to campaign together
The visit timed nearly perfectly with an appearance by challenger Lezlye Zupkus, who was just feet away, making her own pitch to voters in the parking lot.
Both Nardello and Zupkus will make appearances in Cheshire and Prospect in the remainder of the morning and the early afternoon.
"It was great. The people were so receptive and excited," said Zupkus about greeting voters in Bethany. She said she may make another appearance in town before polls close.
[Editor's Note: Join the conversation with fellow Connecticut constituents in our Election Day live blog and results article, where voter tallies will be posted as they come in, and find all the information you need for your local elections—where to vote, who is running and how to access each race article—in your local Election Day 2012 hub.]
In the 89th assembly district -- compromising Bethany, Cheshire and Prospect -- nine-term Democrat Vickie Nardello is facing challenger Lezlye Zupkus.
Profile: Vickie Nardello (D-89)
Profile: Lezlye Zupkus
Both Nardello and Zupkus have backgrounds, focus areas and goals for Connecticut. In her nearly 18 years in the assembly, Nardello has served as co-chair of the Energy & Technology committee and as part of the Public Health and Insurance & Real Estate committees. In 2003, she served as chair of the Quality of Care Subcommittee of the Commission on Hospitals and Health Care. Nardello's background is in health education; as representative, much of her work has focused on health care and energy.
Zupkus has served as Director of Development and Volunteer Services for Special Olympics CT, and as Director of Development for St. Mary's Hospital Foundation. Additionally, she has worked as an account coordinator for Clinique, Inc. and District Sales Manager for Jaci Carroll Staffing Services. Her campaign has focused on promoting small business and fiscal responsibility.