By SUSAN HAIGH, Associated Press
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) _ Democratic gubernatorial candidate Dan Malloy won the election in the state’s largest city by more than 13,000 votes, Bridgeport’s mayor announced Friday, 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.”
Foley has a 10:30 a.m. news conference planned in Hartford.
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.
He said Malloy had received 17,800 votes compared with 4,075 for Foley. If those votes hold, they will give Malloy a more than 5,000-vote advantage statewide, far above the 2,000-vote threshold to trigger an automatic recount.
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.
“We’ve been confident that Dan Malloy and (lieutenant governor candidate) Nancy Wyman would be declared the winners,” Malloy spokesman Brian Durand said in a statement. “We’ll wait for the Secretary of the State to make it official, and will then have more to say.”
The vote totals announced by Finch would give Malloy a lead well outside the state’s mandatory recount margin in both The Associated Press count and the numbers released for the rest of the state Thursday by Secretary of the State
Susan Bysiewicz. With the new Bridgeport numbers included, the AP count shows Malloy with 564,160 votes and Foley with 556,841. The state count, with the Bridgeport numbers included, shows Malloy with 566,178 and Foley with 560,862, a margin of 5,316.
The AP was unable to significantly update its count on Thursday as absentee ballots were added to the election night totals across the state because many town election officials declined to provide updated numbers.
A final unofficial vote tally had been expected from Bysiewicz on Thursday afternoon, but she had not yet received the final count from Bridgeport. It had been due on Wednesday at 6 p.m.
Bysiewicz, relying on a combination of unofficial returns from cities and towns and unofficial tallies she received over the phone, announced Wednesday that Malloy had defeated Foley by more than 3,000 votes out of more than 1.1 million cast.
Before the Bridgeport totals, the unofficial results posted on the state’s website showed Foley with 556,787 votes on the Republican line; Malloy with 548,378 from the Democratic and Working Families Party lines; and Independent Tom Marsh with 17,543 votes.
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 numbers released Friday did not reflect votes cast after 8 p.m., but there were less than 100 and they did not make a difference in the final count, Finch said.
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 race won’t be officially certified until Nov. 25.
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)