Ten Minutes With the Newly Elected CT State Senator
Will Haskell's 22 years old––and he won
Will Haskell defeated State Senator Toni Boucher, long-term Republican member of the Connecticut legislature, flipping the 26th state senate district to the Democrats for the first time since 1973. The 22-year-old Haskell lives in New Canaan and announced his candidacy while still a student at Georgetown University, where he graduated in May.
Why did you win?
Voters really want an optimistic vision of how we can turn the state around. For Connecticut to succeed, we need to excite the next generation of workers, by bringing innovation and jobs, and keeping young people here.
What was your campaign strategy?
I knocked on 4,000 doors and hosted 142 meet-and-greets. I wanted to talk to as many people as I could.
Why did you spend so much of election morning at East Ridge when you have six other towns to cover?
Ridgefield is sort of the Ohio of the 26th district—if you want to win this district, you have to win Ridgefield. When I saw Ridgefield returns come on election night, I knew we had a good shot at flipping the seat.
What do you hope to achieve?
Reducing gun violence was a huge part of the campaign, but we need to focus on the economy, such as how to address our massive unfunded pension liabilities.
How does sending another Democrat to Hartford help when Dems have been running things for decades?
I have been honest with voters, saying that both Republicans and Democrats share the blame. People want a new voice and a new perspective and an optimistic vision.
Why did Barack Obama get involved?
My campaign was fueled by young people—most people on the campaign couldn’t even vote, coming after school to help. There was a lot of enthusiasm. An intern suggested sending a letter to ask if Obama would get involved. I was honored and amazed a few days later to receive a call from President Obama and an endorsement of my campaign.
How can you create jobs?
It’s not affordable to retire here. Reduce the estate tax and gift tax. Young people are not excited to live here and start a business here. None of my friends from high school are staying here. They are starting careers elsewhere. We need to keep workers here, with student-loan forgiveness plans and other incentives. Invest in mass transit—my generation wants to take trains and not drive to work.
What do you do for a living?
That’s a great question. I’m currently looking at different job opportunities. I’m looking for a part-time job that will afford me some flexibility to make all my committee meetings. Eventually I’d like to go to law school.
Do you play any sports or hobbies?
The worst moment of the campaign was the annual Republican-Democratic softball game, in Wilton. Democrats suffered a crushing defeat for which I was largely responsible. I am not an athlete.