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Republicans in CT Senate change leadership as Sen. Kevin Kelly resigns

Senate Minority Leader Kevin Kelly
Molly Ingram
Former Senate Minority Leader Kevin Kelly

Connecticut Sen. Kevin Kelly (R-Stratford) has stepped down as the Republican minority leader.

Kelly has been replaced by Sen. Stephen Harding, a first-term Republican from Brookfield.

Kelly, who represents Stratford, Seymour, Shelton, and Monroe, has served as Senate minority leader since 2020.

He resigned just one week into the legislative session. It was not immediately clear why.

“I have been incredibly honored to serve as the leader of this caucus and will work collaboratively with Sen. Harding going forward,” Kelly said in a statement. “Our caucus is made up of hard-working individuals who love our state and are ready to fight for it. Together we continue to stand up for policies that make our state more affordable for all people by reducing tax burdens on poor, working- and middle-class families, creating opportunities in education and jobs, and increasing healthcare access and affordability."

Kelly praised Harding, calling him extremely knowledgeable.

Harding was elected to the state Senate in 2022 to represent the largest geographic district in the state; it includes Bethlehem, Brookfield, Canaan, Cornwall, Goshen, Kent, Litchfield, Morris, New Fairfield, New Milford, North Canaan, Salisbury, Sharon, Sherman, Torrington, Warren, Washington and Winchester.

He served four terms in the Connecticut House of Representatives before his run for Senate.

“I am honored to have been chosen by our caucus to succeed Sen. Kelly as caucus leader,” Harding said in a statement. “Sen. Kelly has served our caucus tirelessly for more than three years. As leader, I will make sure our caucus remains unified and focused on standing up for all people, offering solutions and showing a better path forward. From strengthening public safety, environmental, education, and health care policies to preserving fiscal discipline, we will work to give residents the stability and predictability they deserve. I thank Sen. Kelly for his leadership and look forward to the challenges ahead.”

Democrats have a supermajority in the General Assembly. There are 24 Democratic senators and 12 Republicans.

Molly is a reporter covering Connecticut. She also produces Long Story Short, a podcast exploring public policy issues across Connecticut.