By DAVE COLLINS, Associated Press
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) _ Former Stamford Mayor Dan Malloy was elected Connecticut’s first Democratic governor in two decades, defeating millionaire Republican businessman Tom Foley in one of the closest gubernatorial elections in state history.
Malloy, 55, will succeed retiring Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell and will become the first Democrat to hold the job since William O’Neill left office in 1991.
Foley, however, refused to concede the race Wednesday, saying his campaign’s vote totals showed him winning.
Voters cast their ballots Tuesday, but the winner wasn’t apparent until midday Wednesday, when votes from the Democratic strongholds of New Haven and Bridgeport pushed Malloy slightly ahead.
Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz said unofficial election results showed Malloy defeated Foley by 3,103 votes out of more than 1.1 million cast, above the threshold of 2,000 or fewer that would trigger an automatic recount. The total didn’t include absentee ballots.
Nancy Wyman, the state comptroller, won the lieutenant governor’s job and will preside over the state Senate.
Foley said Wednesday that his numbers showed him winning by fewer than 2,000 votes. He said he will compare the town-by-town totals from Bysiewicz’s office with his numbers to see where the discrepancies are and decide what to do from there. He said it was too early to say whether he would take legal action.
“We need to figure out why her numbers are different than our numbers,” Foley said.
Foley and other Republicans criticized Bysiewicz for declaring Malloy the winner based on incomplete, unofficial totals.
“What public purpose does it serve to say something is unofficial or apparent?” State GOP Chairman Chris Healy said. “Her job is to collect the information, certify it as accurate and then we’ll know what the outcome of the election is. That’s not what she did.”
Malloy was planning to make public comments about the race later in the afternoon at the state Capitol.
Bysiewicz said the unofficial numbers from her office didn’t include absentee ballots, but she said they weren’t expected to change the outcome. She said the election results will be certified and official by Nov. 25.
The vote total in heavily Democratic Bridgeport, the state’s largest city, became an issue Tuesday when city polling places ran out of paper ballots. The shortage led to long lines and prompted some voters to leave without voting, said Carolyn Vermont, head of the Bridgeport NAACP, which is looking into the problem.
Bridgeport election officials gave some voters photocopied ballots, and those copies were counted by hand.
State Republicans are questioning that procedure.
Because of the shortage, a state judge ordered a dozen polling places in Bridgeport to remain open until 10 p.m., two hours after polls closed across the state. Bysiewicz said about 500 ballots were cast in Bridgeport between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. She said if those votes became the center of a legal fight and were discounted, it still wouldn’t be enough to push the victory margin to below the 2,000-vote recount threshold.
Malloy won big in Bridgeport, Hartford and New Haven, which pushed him to victory. He beat Foley by more than 12,000 votes in Bridgeport and by more than 17,000 votes in New Haven.
Malloy’s supporters said throughout the campaign that Connecticut’s urban voters would be the key to his success, and exit polls conducted Tuesday for The Associated Press bear that out.
Three of every four city voters supported Malloy, and he and Foley split the vote nearly evenly in midsize suburbs. Foley’s best support came from small towns and parts of western Connecticut, but Malloy did especially well in the Fairfield County areas they both call home.
Women also tended to lean toward Malloy, especially those without children, a group in which almost three of five voters supported the Democrat.
The poll, which had a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points, included 1,467 voters in a random sample of 25 precincts statewide.
This year’s race was nearly as close as the 1954 governor’s contest between Democrat Abraham Ribicoff and Republican Gov. John Lodge. Ribicoff beat Lodge by 3,115 votes out of about 920,000 cast.
Absentee ballots are expected to increase this year’s victory margin to more than the 1954 margin, Bysiewicz said.
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)