‘Extra Innings’ in 5th Assembly District Primary
(Updated 5:00 p.m.)Towns have until 6 p.m. Wednesday to report their official primary results to the Secretary of the State’s office, but unofficial results point to a dead heat for the Democratic nomination in the newly redrawn 5th House district.
Official tallies from the Secretary of the State’s office combined with unofficial counts from the Hartford registrar of voters office show Democrats Leo Canty and Brandon McGee with 774 votes each. Windsor Mayor Donald Trinks, who also was running for the nomination, received 267 votes.
“We’re in extra innings,” Canty said Wednesday.
Av Harris, spokesman for Secretary of the State Denise Merrill, said that although they are uncommon, ties have occurred in Connecticut from time to time in recent years.
In the event of a tie, either candidate or the party chair can ask for a recount, Harris said. If no one asks for a recount or one is held but fails to yield a winner, an adjourned election will be held three weeks after the primary.
Harris said Merrill’s office was in contact with both candidates discussing how to move forward.
For his part, Canty, who’s also the party chair in Windsor, said he doesn’t want to see a recount that could see one candidate lose over something like a ballot technicality.
“I’d prefer to just go into a new election,” he said.
However, Merrill released a statement Wednesday afternoon saying one of the candidates requested a recount, which registrars in Windsor and Hartford have until Aug. 21 to complete. She also ordered a recount in the 116th district where Democrat Lou Esposito appeared to beat out opponent David Forsyth by just 11 votes.
“This should serve as a good reminder why it is so important that everyone who is eligible cast a ballot – since every vote truly does count!” Merrill said in a statement.
The tied race took place in the 5th District, which was significantly redrawn this year by the redistricting commission that considers the state’s political lines every 10 years and adjusts for population changes.
Canty was a familiar face around the state Capitol while lawmakers on the commission were negotiating the new lines. He fought to get them to consider giving Windsor back its representation. Because of a political battle in 1981, Windsor had been chopped up into pieces over the years. Former State Rep. Ruth Fahrbach was the last Windsor resident to hold a General Assembly seat until she decided not to seek reelection in 2008.
Windsor voters leaned heavily toward Canty on Tuesday, favoring him over McGee by 695 to 363, according official results posted by Merrill’s office.
Meanwhile, Hartford voters overwhelmingly favored McGee, a Hartford resident. According to unofficial tallies by the registrar of voters office, 411 Hartford Democrats voted for McGee and 79 cast ballots for Canty.
Canty credited McGee with running a good campaign but said he expects to fare better if the election comes down to a one-on-one match up. He said he believed McGee benefitted from a number of factors in the three-way primary that won’t be present in a runoff election.
For one thing, Canty said he likely lost votes to Trinks, who some perceived to be competitive. But with Trinks not competitive in Tuesday’s results, Canty said many of those voters likely would cast ballots for him. Canty said McGee also benefitted from excitement generated by other campaigns like Hartford Registrar Olga Iris Vázquez’ primary bid. But with that race decided, Canty said it is likely that fewer Hartford voters will turn out for the second election.
“There was a huge amount of campaign activity in Hartford involving Olga’s registrar of voters race and Brandon was able to benefit from that,” Canty said. “That’s a condition that won’t exist.”
All and all, Canty seemed disappointed by voter turnout in both Hartford and Windsor. As he was knocking on doors, he said he encountered a lot of voter apathy. He said “Why bother?” wasn’t an uncommon sentiment among voters.
“We were counting on more of our people to get out and vote for us and they didn’t,” he said.
McGee did not immediately return calls for comment.