Nailbiter! Foley, Malloy go down to the wire
After a nailbiter of an election Tuesday, Democrat Dan Malloy was expected to defeat Greenwich businessman Tom Foley in a gubernatorial race that was too close to call until early Wednesday afternoon, when Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz declared Malloy the unofficial winner.
Bysiewicz said in a noon press conference that Malloy was winning by more than 3,103 votes, well more than the 2,000 or fewer that would automatically initiate a recount.
The Democratic victory in Connecticut would be one of several here in sharp contrast to Republican wins throughout the nation, resulting in a GOP majority in the United States House of Representatives. Connecticut Democrats swept the legislative races while holding on to numerous key state positions.
Having led Foley throughout the campaign, Malloy was greeted with unsettling news Monday when three out of four polls put him behind Foley by as many as five points. Malloy supporters counted on a grassroots voter turnout effort to reverse the numbers.
â€œIn the past few days, some polls have had us up, some down and some within the margin of error,â€ Malloy campaign manager Dan Kelly said in a statement Monday. â€œTodayâ€™s Quinnipiac poll shows us down three points, the same deficit we faced the day before the primary. We are confident that Danâ€™s strength as a closer, coupled with our ground game, will result in a victory tomorrow.â€
On Wednesday, prior to Bysiewiczâ€™s announcment, Malloy issued a statement: â€œAfter a long night, I am confident that when the secretary of the state certifies the results of the election, Nancy Wyman and I will be declared the winners, and that a recount will not be necessary.
â€œOur count shows us with a lead of more than 11,000 votes (approximately 1 percent), which will likely increase because the precincts that have yet to officially report â€” in Bridgeport, New Haven and a few other towns â€” are ones in which Democrats have traditionally outpolled Republicans.
â€œI want the people of Connecticut to know that I am committed to working on a smooth, orderly transition with Gov. Rell and that we will announce a transition team that will lead that effort in short order.â€
Widespread gains across the country for Republicans in Tuesdayâ€™s midterm elections were not as sharp as some expected and were certainly not mirrored in Connecticut, where state offices and seats in the United States Senate and House of Representatives races went overwhelmingly to Democrats.
In the stateâ€™s closely watched Senate race, Democratic Attorney General Richard Blumenthal defeated Republican Linda McMahon, the former CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment who spent an estimated $46 million of her own money in her bid for public office. McMahonâ€™s negative campaign ads and unpopularity among women were cited as contributing factors in her loss, while Blumenthalâ€™s positive favorability rating remained largely intact.
As expected, Democratic incumbent John Larson, who represents Winsted in the stateâ€™s 1st Congressional District, won easily against Republican challenger Ann Brickley and minor-party candidates Ken Krayeske (Green) and Chris Hutchinson (Socialist Action).
Less predictable was Connecticutâ€™s Democratic sweep of all five Congressional districts. Larson was joined by Democratic incumbent Chris Murphy, who held onto his seat in the 5th District in a tough battle with Republican Sam Caligiuri. Incumbent Democrats Joe Courtney, Rosa DeLauro and Jim Himes were victorious in the 2nd, 3rd and 4th House Districts, respectively.
Across the nation, dozens of dramatic and nationally watched races were decided, with one of the first being Republican Rand Paulâ€™s victory over Democrat Jack Conway for the Senate seat in Kentucky. Paul, the son of former presidential candidate Ron Paul, is a favorite of the Tea Party movement, which was credited with helping Republicans make gains in the election.
On the Democratic side, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid survived a tight race against another Tea Party favorite, Sharron Angle. More importantly for the Democrats, Reid was one of a few in the party who helped maintain a Democratic majority in the Senate.
The Democrats were not as lucky in the House of Representatives, which shifted to a Republican majority as more than 60 races were decided in the GOPâ€™s favor Tuesday night.
The split in party leadership between the two legislative bodies is a rarity in United States history. The last time it happened was in 1980, and before that in 1910.
Among the acceptance and concession speeches Tuesday night, McMahon offered her concession early in the night, pledging to support Blumenthal.
â€œI told him I promised my support,â€ McMahon said after calling Blumenthal. â€œWe are all going to be truly supportive of our newly elected officials. If they succeed, we succeed.â€
McMahon added that she had enjoyed her campaign.
â€œYouâ€™ll probably see me around,â€ she said. â€œI have truly spent the last 14 months loving every day, working hard. I donâ€™t think we left one stone unturned in this race.â€
Later in the evening, Blumenthal similarly called for unity.
â€œTonight I reach out to every person in Connecticut â€” Republican, Democrat and independent â€” because there are very difficult challenges ahead,â€ he said. â€œWe have to put middle-class families first again and that means middle-class tax cuts now. We need to help our small businesses, and that means giving them the tools they need to expand and grow. We need to fight for small businesses in Connecticut and around the nation now.â€