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Foley concedes governor's race to Malloy

Republican Tom Foley conceded defeat Wednesday afternoon in Connecticut governor's race to incumbent Dannel Malloy.

Malloy has scheduled a 2 p.m. press conference in Hartford.

Malloy had taken the stage at 12:25 this morning and claimed victory in his bruising re-election campaign against Republican Tom Foley.

“We don’t have the final numbers yet, but we will,” he said.

Malloy spoke briefly, surrounded by his family, at The Society Room in Hartford, where his Democratic supporters had waited for hours for him to appear.

With 93 percent of the precincts reporting Wednesday, Malloy had 51 percent of the vote, Foley had 48 percent and petitioning candidate Joe Visconti, who had thrown his support to Foley, had 1 percent.

Malloy had 495,413 votes to Foley’s 474,960 votes. Visconti received 10,122 votes.

Under Connecticut law, an automatic recount is triggered for statewide races when the vote difference is less than 2,000 votes.

“Good morning, everyone,” a chipper Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman told the crowd before Malloy stepped up to the podium.

"We’re waiting for two more cities to come in, but you know, they’re our cities,” she said. “We have to give the other side time to realize they’re our cities.”

“We are going to win this thing,” Malloy told those gathered in The Society Room in Hartford. Democrats were confident because Malloy was ahead while many voting districts in the state’s larger cities had yet to report.

Shortly before 1 a.m., Foley said, “We probably have lost this race.”

The last polls to close were two in Hartford that a Superior Court judge had ordered to stay open an extra half-hour after problems with voter lists kept some polling places in the city from opening on time early Tuesday morning.

The order came in response to a complaint filed by Malloy’s campaign. Republicans opposed the extension of polling hours.

Connecticut Democrats awaited results at The Society Room in Hartford, where the party’s kingpins started taking to the stage at 9 o’clock. Party Chairwoman Nancy DiNardo and U.S. Sens. Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal spoke before Diana Jepsen, wife of state Attorney General George Jepsen, divulged the first result of the night: early returns indicated her husband would win another term.

Foley’s supporters congregated at the Hyatt Regency in Greenwich, where about 150 of them filled a stately ballroom.

After polls closed at 8 p.m., Foley’s supporters watched local news and Fox News on two large projector screens as early results trickled in. The supporters gathered were reserved until about 9:50 p.m., when Foley took a percentage point lead over Malloy with about a quarter of the votes counted and the crowd erupted in cheers.

Though the crowd thinned after 11 p.m., many supporters remained as midnight approached, cheering each time the news broadcasts showed the narrow margin separating Foley and Malloy. Those who stayed seemed cautiously optimistic that Foley would expand his lead over Malloy.

State Senate Minority Leader John McKinney, who lost to Foley in the party’s August primary, arrived shortly before 10 p.m. and mingled with supporters.

“I think that the extra momentum for Tom Foley in the last week is going to be the difference,” McKinney said. “I think we’re going to be here for a very long night, but I also think we’re going to end up with a very close victory for Tom Foley.”

McKinney said he had talked to people around the state who relayed word that districts with a lot of registered Republicans experienced high turnout Tuesday. He also said he thinks lieutenant governor candidate Heather Somers helped drum up support for Foley in the eastern part of the state.

“Talking to people in eastern Connecticut, the Groton area, where Heather Somers is from, clearly she probably was very helpful there,” he said.

On Tuesday morning, Foley voted at the Glenville School in Greenwich before rallying supporters standing outside a polling location in Westport.

Somers greeted supporters standing outside the Groton City Municipal building at about 8:15 a.m. Tuesday before entering the building to cast her ballot.

Somers headlined a series of Foley campaign bus stops in New London on Monday, including the office building at 88 Howard St. and Hot Rod Cafe on Bank Street. Somers and other Republican candidates made a late push to convince undecided voters and urge voters to get to the polls.

Foley held a separate event Monday in Windsor Locks, where he was joined by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Christie, who is widely thought to harbor presidential aspirations, appeared in the state with Foley five times this campaign season, an indication of the national interest in Connecticut’s gubernatorial election.

Obama calls in

President Barack Obama weighed in on the situation in Hartford, phoning into WNPR’s “The Colin McEnroe Show” shortly after 1 p.m. Tuesday.

“The main thing I want to emphasize is that those folks get a chance to vote,” Obama said of those turned away from the polls. Two days earlier, the president had campaigned for Malloy in Bridgeport, urging people at a rally to keep the governor in office. First lady Michelle Obama did the same last week in New Haven.

Under Judge Carl Schuman’s order, polling places at the Batchelder School and the United Methodist Church stayed open an extra half-hour.

“We are pleased the court has decided to give every voter in Hartford who wants to cast a ballot the opportunity to vote,” Mark Bergman, a spokesman for the Malloy campaign, said in a statement. “The right to vote in a democracy is fundamental and should never be infringed. We encourage every voter in Hartford to come out and let their voices be heard.”

The polling problems recalled Election Day 2010, when a shortage of ballots in Bridgeport kept polls open late, helping throw the outcome of the governor’s race into doubt until the next day.

According to the Malloy complaint, a dozen Hartford polling places failed to open at 6 a.m., as required by law. At nine polling places, voters could not vote for at least 30 and up to 90 minutes, with no certainty when they would open.

The delayed openings were “reportedly due in whole or in substantial part” to the failure of one or more local officials to provide lists of voters to the polling places, the complaint said.

Named as defendants were Hartford’s Democratic and Republican registrars of voters as well as the Working Families Party registrar and Denise Merrill, the secretary of the state.

A “substantial number” of voters who were not allowed to vote left polling places before they eventually opened, the complaint charged, “and a substantial number of people who wished to vote were discouraged from voting by lengthy lines at those polling places.”

Word of the problems, spread by social and other media, further suppressed turnout, according to the complaint.

When asked to order a one-hour extension of the polling hours, Merrill “stated that she was unable to do so,” the complaint said.

Daniel Reale, the Libertarian Party candidate for Congress in Connecticut’s 2nd District, filed an intervening complaint, claiming Malloy sought an unfair advantage in asking for the Hartford polling hours to be extended.

By evening, an attorney for the Secretary of the State’s office had notified the State Elections Enforcement Commission that he intended to file a complaint over what he called the “gross misconduct” of Hartford’s registrars of voters.

Ted Bromley, the attorney, cited testimony during the hearing on Malloy’s complaint, charging that Hartford registrars had violated state laws by failing to properly prepare final voters lists and open polls on time.

Campaign became contentious

The likelihood of a Malloy-Foley rematch increased in the months preceding the Republicans’ nominating convention in August, where Foley secured the party’s nod over McKinney.

Malloy had edged Foley, a Greenwich businessman and equity investor, by a mere 6,400 votes, or 0.5 percent of the total cast, in 2010.Foley eventually conceded the election to Malloy the week after Election Day.

Foley had served as U.S. ambassador to Ireland from 2006 to 2009 and as director of private sector development for the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq in 2003 and 2004.

Polling early in the race showed voters’ main concerns were jobs and government spending, areas they believed Foley could better handle than Malloy. In Quinnipiac University’s Sept. 10 poll of likely voters, Foley led the governor, 46 percent to 40 percent.

Foley immediately took aim at Malloy’s performance as governor, charging that the Democrat had failed to spur economic growth and create jobs and faulting him for raising taxes after promising he wouldn’t. Foley vowed to cut the sales tax by half a percent.

Both candidates qualified for public campaign funds. In 2010, Foley had opted out of the state’s so-called clean elections program and spent $11 million of his own money.

The tenor of the campaign seemed to change in early October during a debate at the University of Connecticut. Near the end, Malloy, saying Foley had repeatedly impugned his integrity throughout the debate, resurrected questions about Foley’s involvement in a decades-old traffic incident and his payment of a fine for a 2013 elections-law violation.

Earlier in the debate, Foley had referred to an investigation of Stamford government during Malloy’s time as Stamford mayor and disparaged job-creation statistics and other numbers the governor cited as “Malloy Math.”

After it was over, Foley suggested a truce. Malloy ignored the offer. Both candidates’ campaigns grew more negative.

Meanwhile, petitioning candidate Joe Visconti, a Republican who secured a place on the ballot by collecting far more than the required number of signatures, hoped to raise his profile by participating in a three-way debate Oct. 16 in New London. His polling numbers, ranging between 7 and 9 percent, failed to climb, though, even after an Oct. 23 debate against Malloy. On Sunday, Visconti suspended his campaign and announced he was endorsing Foley.

In announcing his withdrawal, Visconti predicted that his endorsement would push Foley over the finish line for a comfortable victory.

But a Quinnipiac University poll released Monday showed that with Visconti out of the race, Malloy had moved three percentage points ahead of Foley — 47 percent to 44 percent, with 7 percent undecided.

When he wasn’t criticizing his opponent, Malloy touted what he described as his success in steering the state’s economy to recovery.

“Four years ago, we were arguably still in the Great Recession,” he told business leaders last week at a Chamber of Commerce meeting in Norwich.

When he took over as governor, he said, the state’s unemployment rate was 9.4 percent. No net increase in jobs had occurred in 22 years. Budgetmakers faced a $3.6 billion deficit.

Since taking over, the governor said, his administration has balanced four budgets, curtailed government’s growth and stashed $520 million in a Rainy Day Fund that the previous Republican administration had depleted. He pointed to a September jobs report that showed the state’s unemployment rate had fallen to 6.4 percent, the lowest it’s been since November 2008.

Give him another year, Malloy said, and the state will have recovered all the jobs it lost during the recession.

An Associated Press report contributed to this story.


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