Recount may loom amid confusion in Connecticut governor race

The secretary of state declared Democrat Dan Malloy the winner Wednesday in the Connecticut governor race, before the release of official numbers. Republican Tom Foley says his own tally puts him ahead.

Charles Krupa/AP
Connecticut Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Foley talks with reporters at his campaign office in Stamford, Conn., on Wednesday.
Jessica Hill/AP
Connecticut gubernatorial candidate Dan Malloy (D) shakes hands with supporters in Hartford, Conn., early Wednesday.

Remember in 2000 when presidential candidate Al Gore thought he won in Florida and it took weeks of lawyers looking at “hanging chads” to declare George W. Bush the winner there? The Connecticut governor’s race may become a case of Florida déjà vu.

Connecticut Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz, on the basis of unofficial results, has declared Democrat Dan Malloy the victor over Republican Tom Foley. But she says the margin of victory was a meager 3,103 votes out of more than 1 million cast.

By Mr. Foley’s count, he thinks he won by 2,000 votes. On Thursday morning, the Associated Press, which had declared Mr. Malloy the winner, withdrew its announcement and said Foley was ahead by 8,424 votes. But AP did not announce any winner.

In an interview Thursday, Foley is calling for Ms. Bysiewicz to publish her numbers. “We assume she has the data to back that up,” he says. “We’ve asked her to put it on her website; she hasn’t done it. I don’t know, if it’s a close race, why an officer of the state would be calling a race, particularly in favor of someone from her own party.”

Foley says his campaign has a meeting Thursday with Bysiewicz to try to reconcile the difference, and he has teams in Bridgeport, New Haven, and Hartford to “confirm the results they recorded are accurate.”

In an e-mail, Bysiewicz spokesman Av Harris says a planned noon press conference on Thursday has been postponed until later Thursday afternoon.

The Connecticut race is far from unique. In Minnesota, the governor’s race between Democrat Mark Dayton and Republican Tom Emmer is so close that it may trigger an automatic recount. So far, Mr. Dayton is ahead but not by enough to be declared the winner.

Minnesota voters may well remember the tight Senate race there in 2008, when Democrat Al Franken defeated Republican Norm Coleman by 312 votes. It took eight months to do the recount, settle the litigation, and swear-in Senator Franken.

In 2005, there was also a very close gubernatorial race in Washington State, where Gov. Christine Gregoire defeated Republican Dino Rossi by 129 votes. That race also took eight months to settle. [Editor's note: The original version misstated Mr. Rossi's political affiliation.]

In Ohio this year there are at least two state House races that were so close that they were likely to trigger automatic recounts because the difference between the two candidates is less than 0.5 percent of the vote cast. One race, between Rep. Connie Pillich and Republican Mike Wilson, is separated by just five votes.

Back in Connecticut, Foley says his priority is to feel assured that he knows what the vote was on Tuesday night. “If I believe that I won, and I have to go to court for others to believe it, I will. But if I believe Dan Malloy won, we will not be going to court.”

If there is a recount, Foley says it is his understanding it could take several weeks, depending on whether it is a statewide recount or a partial one.

“If it’s an automatic recount and it’s statewide, I think it could take several weeks,” he says. “But if it you could determine where there are problems and just do a partial recount, that would be shorter.”

Foley has gone to court before. In the primary, he sued to prevent opponent Lt. Gov. Michael Fedele from using public financing.

“I know Foley is not afraid to go to court,” says Doug Schwartz, director of polling at Quinnipiac University Polling Institute in Hamden, Conn.

Foley lost that suit.

If there is a recount, one area that might be looked at is Bridgeport. According to press reports on Tuesday, there were not enough ballots in the city for all the voters. As a result, officials had to get permission to use photocopied ballots. A judge then extended voting by two hours.

But Foley says the vote count also shows the turnouts were quite high in Bridgeport, Hartford, and New Haven. Foley lost all three cities.

“It could just be the people were motivated, or it might suggest there were problems,” he says.

In the meantime, both Foley and Malloy have named transition teams. Foley planned on meeting with his on Thursday.

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