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Jobs, Economy Will Dominate '12 State Races

FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. – With the presidential campaigning season already in full swing, you might not be thinking of the other candidates who will be on Fairfield County ballots in the 2012 elections. In fact, the ballot will be crowded with all of the seats in the Connecticut General Assembly up for grabs.

“It’s going to be fascinating, truly fascinating. I think it will be a very telling time in our country," says Rep. Terrie Wood, a Republican who represents Darien and Norwalk's Rowayton neighborhood.

Wood says she will run for re-election in 2012. “I also feel lucky to represent a constituency that feels very much like I do. There are very few people that have disagreed with votes I’ve made in Hartford,” she said.

For her, the most important issues in the upcoming campaigning season are Connecticut's business climate and financial condition. “I think people do see very clearly that we’re at a tipping point in this country and definitely in this state," Wood says. "Every state in the country cut operating expenses, except Connecticut.”

State Sen. Bob Duff, a Democrat whose district includes Norwalk and most of Darien, says the state has made great strides in fixing the economy and attracting jobs this year. Still, those will remain the big issues in the state assembly races.

Duff says the state's First Five Initiative, which gave incentives to the first five companies that brought 200 new jobs to Connecticut, was a success. The state is now looking for the second five.

Companies won't move to the state unless they think it is stable and able to support them, says Duff, who hasn't made a final decision about whether to run for re-election.

“I think for anybody who runs you have to really think about: are you effective, can you still contribute something, and do you still have the drive to change things or to make life better for residents of the state,” he says. “Every two years, I think back and answer those questions and try and make sure that when I run for re-election I’m doing the right thing for my constituents.”

Campaign season won’t start until after the 2012 session ends in May, said state Sen. L. Scott Frantz, whose district stretches from Greenwich to the northern neighborhoods of Stamford and New Canaan.

“The theme of this campaign can’t afford to be spending like this, because Connecticut can’t afford to tax like this,” says Frantz, who plans to run for re-election.

“I’m a big believer that Connecticut can affect a serious turn around and become a wonder," he says. “We’ve got to start doing everything right going forward, we can’t afford many more years like this.”

State Rep. William Tong, a Democrat who represents parts of New Canaan and Stamford, is not just looking at the state but the whole country — he’s running for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Joseph Lieberman.

But the issues facing his election are the same, he says — the economy and jobs.

“Everybody’s focus is on the economy of course,” Tong says.. “I think voters are going to be looking for candidates who have something substantive to say on jobs. And voters will also be looking to see if they have any experience in job growth.”

Tong could be in for a rigorous campaign for his party's nomination. He faces popular former secretary of the state Susan Bysiewicz and U.S. Rep Chris Murphy, who some consider the front-runner.

There has been a historic rise in voters' frustration with Washington and politics, Tong says.

“It’s tremendously important to serve and bad things happen when good people do nothing,” he says. “And I encourage all voters to take a hard look at anyone who is running.”

You can find your state legislators here .

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