Updated: 4:09 a.m.
More than six hours after polls closed on Tuesday evening, results pointed toward a victory for Gov. Dannel Malloy in Connecticut’s gubernatorial race.
While Malloy tentatively declared victory early Wednesday morning, Republican challenger Tom Foley refused to concede, but admitted that a defeat — his second to Malloy in four years — was probable. This is the protracted finale to the months-long gubernatorial race — one of the tightest and nastiest in the country.
As of press time, Malloy held the lead with 50.3 percent of the vote, while Foley had garnered 48.6 percent. Malloy led by 14,683 votes. Eighty-one percent of precincts have reported their results, according to The New York Times.
With results still coming in from precincts, Malloy claimed victory in a 12:30 a.m. speech to supporters at his Hartford headquarters.
“We’re in a position to declare victory tonight,” he said. “We know what the big numbers are, and we are going to win this thing.”
Shortly after Malloy’s speech, results from Hartford and Bridgeport, cities that he won by wide margins in 2010, began to come in. As of press time, Malloy holds a 69-point lead in Hartford and a 64-point lead in Bridgeport, solidifying his overall lead.
Foley, on the other hand, erred on the side of caution, refusing to concede in a speech to his supporters early Wednesday morning.
“We have probably lost this race,” he said in the speech at his Greenwich headquarters about 20 minutes after Malloy’s declaration. “It was worth the effort.”
Despite the apparent defeat, his supporters expressed their continuing support, chanting “Foley, Foley,” as he walked off the stage, accompanied by his wife Leslie and lieutenant governor candidate Heather Somers.
But neither candidate’s statement is definitive. Foley said that he would not make the final decision on conceding to Malloy until all the results have come in.
Earlier in the night, both campaigns said they were ready for a lengthy affair.
“We’re prepared for a long night,” said Zak Sanders, a CT GOP spokesman earlier in the evening. He added that the Foley campaign had hoped for a definitive result Tuesday night.
This year’s midterms in Connecticut were marked by significant issues with voting logistics and same-day voter registration. Voter registration forms arrived late to some polling places in Hartford, prompting them to stay open until 8:30 p.m., a half-hour past the original closing time.
The candidates were not immune to the problems. When Malloy attempted to vote at his polling place in Hartford in the morning, he encountered about a half-hour delay.
Gary Rose, chairman of the Department of Government and Politics at Sacred Heart University, said that the extra half-hour of voting time in Hartford may have been decisive in the race.
“Those two polling places in Hartford that were kept open for an additional 30 minutes — it is not inconsequential,” he said. “In a very, very tight race, that does matter.”
In New Haven, lines for same-day registration numbered in the hundreds. About a hundred people who attempted to register had to be turned away. In the end, 620 people who registered on Election Day voted in the Elm City.
Citing the problems in New Haven and Hartford, Senator Richard Blumenthal LAW ’73 called for a review of statewide election protocols in a speech to Malloy’s supporters on Tuesday night.
Malloy’s projected win comes on a damaging night for Democrats across the country. Republicans took control of the Senate for the first time since 2006, and the GOP maintained its majority both in the House of Representatives and in the number of state governorships.
In Connecticut, results have been mixed but generally favored the Democrats. The state’s five representatives, all incumbent Democrats, held their seats. Rosa DeLauro, D-3, defeated the Republican James Brown by a 2–1 margin.
“This election also has consequences for political reform,” Rose said. “If Malloy’s re-elected, watch out for [the introduction of] early voting.”
Democrats have retained control of the Connecticut State House and Senate. However, the night also went well for the Republican delegation to the General Assembly, said Pat O’Neal, a Republican spokesman.
“We picked up eight seats,” he said. “We beat eight incumbents and we’ve increased the size of the caucus to the largest number in nearly two decades.”
Malloy’s election in 2010 made him Connecticut’s first Democratic governor in 20 years.