Malloy gets good news in Bridgeport, but Foley not conceding race

Hartford -- A nearly 14,000-vote win in the city of Bridgeport propelled Democrat Dan Malloy to a win over Republican Tom Foley, according to returns from the state's largest city that were finally submitted to Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz Friday afternoon.

Malloy won the city, site of chaotic voting problems on Election Day and even greater frenzy since, by 17,974 votes to Foley's 4,099, city election officials reported Friday.

A victory was expected, but the margin was larger than Foley's campaign had anticipated, the Republican candidate said, as he refused to concede the race but also acknowledged for the first time that he is less confident than he was on election day that he will ultimately win the race.

Statewide, Malloy won a total of 566,511 votes on the Democratic and Working Families Party lines, while Foley received 560,867 votes. Independent Tom Marsh received 17,589 votes.

Foley said his campaign will wait until it has confidence in the accuracy of the returns reported by Bysiewicz' office before it makes a decision about how to proceed. The former U.S. ambassador several times raised the possibility of a recount to confirm the true winner of the closest Connecticut gubernatorial contest since 1954.

But the overwhelming majorities rolled up by the Malloy campaign in the state's biggest cities and major Democratic towns seemed to put even a recount out of reach.

With all towns reporting, Malloy's lead stands at more than 5,600 votes, well over the margin of 2,000 or fewer votes that would trigger a recount under state election law.

That likely means the only way the Foley campaign can force a recount is to sue, alleging that irregularities in the voting in Bridgeport justify a recount despite Malloy's margin of victory.

"It may well take a recount to get that certainty," Foley said.

The Republican also sought to dispute the authority of the returns Bysiewicz has published so far from individual cities and towns, noting that some of those have been amended since they were first released, including a 2,000 vote correction in Foley's favor in Torrington.

"When she says 'official,' most people would assume that means final, and it's not," he said of Bysiewicz. "These numbers are certain to change between now and when she certifies the results. And when she certifies the results, that's a final number. But these numbers will change, and they could change by the amount of this margin. Probably not, but they could, and we need to understand that."

Malloy's campaign, however, said in a statement that it was "100 percent confident that we have been chosen by the voters."

Bysiewicz posted the full voting tally just after 2:30 p.m.

"As is the case with more than a few other races in other states across the country, this race is taking a few extra days to play out," Malloy noted, in his statement. "Nancy and I think it should be allowed to play out in an orderly fashion and we support the process established by law.

"We're as anxious as everyone else is to get the final numbers. We're also continuing our intensive efforts to create an administration that is up and running and ready for the challenges awaiting us when we take office on Jan. 5. To do otherwise would be irresponsible."

Meanwhile, Republican State Party Chairman Chris Healy weighed in, criticizing Bysiewicz and Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch.

"It is clear the interests of the citizens have not been served by elected officials who have announced unofficial and inaccurate voting numbers to declare Dan Malloy the winner of the gubernatorial race," Healy said. "Both Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz and Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch have acted recklessly and inappropriately in their public comments and actions concerning the voting procedures, the counting of votes and the premature announcement of vote totals."

Those comments came on the heels of Finch's announcement Friday that Malloy had won the election in the state's largest city by more than 13,000 votes, apparently giving Malloy the edge over Republican Tom Foley in the disputed race.

Yet in an interview with The Associated Press, Foley said he was not ready to concede. He said his campaign wants to make sure the latest numbers from Bridgeport are accurate.

"We need to understand more about how Bridgeport got to these numbers," he said, adding how "the number in Bridgeport has been moving around so much."

"We need to understand how this was affected by the paper ballots and some of the irregularities reported there."

He said the campaign "would initially do this (review) internally" and get more detail about the latest results "to develop a sufficient level of confidence."

Asked if his campaign planned any legal action, the Greenwich businessman said, "We'd have to look at what's in these numbers first."

Mayor Bill Finch announced the vote totals after officials worked through the night to hand-count the vote in the city, where a ballot shortage on Election Day forced officials to improvise and make photocopies.

"This is not exactly the way we'd like to see things done in Bridgeport, but what I want to emphasize is that when we became aware of problems in the process of not having enough ballots printed, we reacted swiftly so that every vote was counted," Finch said.

Both candidates have claimed victory in Tuesday's election.

"There are no hanging chads here. Every paper ballot was counted, period," Finch said in defending his city's vote-counting operation.

Foley has said he does not trust the numbers. On Thursday night, he issued a statement claiming a bag of photocopied ballots had been discovered during the counting of ballots in Bridgeport. The city's deputy city attorney, Arthur Laske, denied the allegations.

Both Foley and Malloy began forming transition teams Wednesday in anticipation of becoming Connecticut's 88th governor, succeeding the retiring M. Jodi Rell.

Voting problems in Bridgeport have become a major issue. A ballot shortage Tuesday led to long lines and reports of people leaving polling places without voting. Because of the problems, a state judge ordered a dozen polling places in the city to remain open until 10 p.m., two hours after polls closed elsewhere.

The Democratic mayor said Friday he would appoint a three-person panel to investigate the ballot shortage, and a public hearing will be held in City Hall on Nov. 16 for residents to voice their concerns.

He also dismissed reports that not enough ballots were printed because of financial constraints. "It was by no means a financial matter," he said. "I have no idea where something as ridiculous as that comes from."

Republicans voiced concerns about the photocopied ballots and the extended voting hours and criticized Bysiewicz for declaring Malloy the winner based on unofficial vote totals. But the GOP hasn't filed any formal complaints, state GOP Chairman Chris Healy said.

The election must be certified by Nov. 25.

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