Nardello comes out ahead in tight primary race

Democrat Vickie Orsini Nardello gives a victory speech at her headquarters in Southington after defeating Dagmara Scalise in Tuesday’s primary the 16th Senatorial District. -AJHANI AYRES/REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN

PROSPECT — Political veteran Vickie Orsini Nardello won Tuesday’s Democratic primary in the 16th Senatorial District, securing the nomination for November’s election.

Nardello won a tight race against political newcomer and party-endorsed candidate Dagmara Scalise. Unofficial numbers Wednesday morning showed Nardello defeating Scalise by 37 votes. Nardella earned 2,679 votes to Scalise’s 2,642.

“I think people responded to my personal style of campaign,” said Nardello, who visited voter’s homes Tuesday to discuss her campaign. “I am passionate and people see that.”

Nardello, of Prospect, will go head-to-head with Republican state Rep. Rob Sampson, R-Wolcott, to represent the towns of Wolcott, Waterbury, Southington, Cheshire and Prospect in the state Senate.

Joe Markley, the Republican incumbent in the 16th District, gave up the seat to run for lieutenant governor.

Nardello, a retired public health dental hygienist for the Hartford school system who teaches health care policy at University of Bridgeport as an adjunct, served as state representative in the 89th District for 18 years before losing the seat to state Rep. Lezlye Zupkus in 2012.

Last week, Nardello said if she wins the seat in November, among her priorities will be to protect access to health care, fight the state opioid epidemic, support gun control and help small-town working-class people. She said she hopes to reduce community college tuition, enhance economic development, create vibrant cities to attract young people and promote affordable housing and creating centers of excellence.

Nardello’s primary victory Tuesday night comes after she fought to be on the ballot. A problem with the paperwork submitted to the Secretary of State’s Office in May almost resulted in her being left off the ballot, and led Nardello to take legal action in Waterbury Superior Court seeking a court order to compel Secretary of State Denise W. Merrill to place her name on the Democratic primary ballot after Merrill’s office disqualified her.

Judge Salvatore Agati concluded Nardello was entitled to her primary shot given the circumstances and facts that each side outlined.

Scalise, of Southington, did not return calls for comment Tuesday night.

Elio Gugliotti contributed to this article.