Tom Foley concedes Conn. governor's race. What happened to GOP's challenge?

Republican Tom Foley, who sought an investigation of chaotic voting in Bridgeport, Conn., now says there is no credible evidence of fraud and the result 'was a conclusive victory for Dan Malloy.'

Jessica Hill/AP
Tom Foley, the Republican candidate for governor of Connecticut, speaks after conceding to Democrat Dan Malloy during a news conference in Hartford, Conn., on Nov. 8.

Republican Tom Foley has conceded the Connecticut gubernatorial race to Democrat Dan Malloy. Why did he do that? After all, he and the state’s other GOP leaders have called for a federal investigation into voting chaos in Bridgeport, Connecticut’s biggest city. On the morning following last Tuesday’s election, Mr. Foley said his own count showed he’d won by 2,000 votes.

Well, that was then. Foley slapped his hand of cards down on the table and walked away for the simple reason that he’s now convinced he won’t win. Official tallies show him about 5,800 votes behind. He won’t be able to make up that gap, whatever the outcome of the mess in Bridgeport.

There is no credible evidence of fraudulent voting in Bridgeport, said Foley at a Monday press conference. A legal battle would simply disenfranchise voters who cast ballots in good faith, he said.

“The election on Tuesday was a conclusive victory for Dan Malloy, and this result should not be questioned,” said Foley, a wealthy Greenwich businessman and former US ambassador to Ireland.

If you didn’t follow the Connecticut tale, it was something like what happened in Florida in the 2000 presidential election, where the outcome of Bush v. Gore hung on a few hanging chads. Only there was fall foliage in Connecticut.

On Election Day, Bridgeport election officials discovered they had not ordered nearly enough ballots. They’d bought only 21,000, despite the fact that the city has some 69,000 registered voters.

Chaos ensued. Election officials simply photocopied the ballots they had, a fairly dubious procedure. Polls stayed open two hours extra. The Associated Press declared Mr. Malloy the victor – then took it back. Somebody found a bag of uncounted ballots days after the vote was over.

Foley and the state GOP looked hard at what had happened over the weekend. A lawyer hired by the Connecticut Republican Party sent the US attorney’s office a letter asking for an investigation, saying, among other things, that voting in Bridgeport was plagued by “significant deficiencies, irregularities, and improprieties.”

But days of reflecting on the matter appear to have convinced Foley that being magnanimous is preferable to being litigious. Given the number of votes still at issue, and the gap, he and his advisers decided to accept Fridays’ declaration by Connecticut Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz that Malloy will be the Nutmeg State’s first Democratic governor since 1986.

With the end of Connecticut’s controversy, the laurel wreath for most entertaining contested election, gubernatorial division, now passes to Minnesota. There, Republican Tom Emmer now trails Democrat Mark Dayton by about 8,750 votes.

Mr. Emmer picked up six votes on Monday morning after a suburban precinct in Hennepin County, the state’s largest, rechecked their numbers. Unless Dayton’s lead reaches about 10,500 votes – roughly half a percentage point of total votes cast – the state will pay for a recount.

Attorney Tony Trimble, a lawyer for Emmer, says the Republican candidate will not waive his right to the recount, since he’s making up ground.

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