HARTFORD, Conn. — Democrat Dan Malloy on Wednesday moved ahead with plans to form a transition team in anticipation of becoming Connecticut's next governor, and the first Democrat to hold the office in two decades, after the secretary of the state said he won Tuesday's election.
But Republican Tom Foley also announced he was forming a transition team because his numbers show he won the election, one of the closest governor's races in state history. Foley said it was too early to say whether he'll challenge the vote total in court.
Democratic Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz said Wednesday that unofficial election results showed Malloy, the former mayor of Stamford, defeating 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, which Bysiewicz believed wouldn't change the outcome.
Foley, a millionaire businessman from Greenwich, said Wednesday that his numbers showed him winning, but by fewer than 2,000 votes. He said he was waiting for Bysiewicz's office to turn over its town-by-town vote totals so he could see where the discrepancies are and decide what action, if any, to take.
"We're still trying to find out what the official vote count is," Foley said. "We're going to have to start getting ready in case we're confirmed to be the winner."
Bysiewicz has until Nov. 25 to certify the results.
Malloy said at the state Capitol on Wednesday that he's confident he won the election by at least 11,000 votes, making him Connecticut's first Democratic governor since William O'Neill left office in 1991.
"I think what they (voters) should make of it is Dan Malloy and Nancy Wyman have been elected governor and lieutenant governor of the state of Connecticut," Malloy said. "We're going to conduct the business. We're going to get ready for this administration that takes office on Jan. 5."
Malloy also named the chief of staff of his administration: Tim Bannon, executive director of the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority and the state commissioner of Revenue Services under O'Neill. Bannon and Wyman will lead Malloy's transition team.
The Associated Press on Wednesday afternoon called the race for Malloy based on Bysiewicz's statements. However, the AP withdrew its call later Wednesday after its vote count showed Foley with a lead of 8,424 votes over Malloy, with all but 1.5 percent of the precincts counted. Bysiewicz had not released any vote results to support her statements earlier today.
If the her tallies hold, Malloy will be Connecticut's 88th governor, succeeding Republican M. Jodi Rell, who didn't seek re-election.
But 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."
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.
Bridgeport election officials gave some voters photocopied ballots, and those copies were counted by hand. State Republicans were 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.
Malloy won big in Bridgeport, Hartford and New Haven. His supporters had 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.
Nearly 70 percent of Malloy's support came from Democrats, but only half of Foley's support came from fellow Republicans. Overall, two out of every five voters were Democrats, while three in 10 were Republicans.
And even though one in 10 of Foley's supporters were Democrats who crossed party lines, about 25 percent of Malloy's support came from unaffiliated voters.
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.
The last time a gubernatorial election was this close was in 1954, when Democrat Abraham Ribicoff beat Republican Gov. John Lodge by 3,115 votes out of about 920,000 cast.