Foley concedes defeat, but GOP wants probe of Bridgeport vote
Published 11:55 pm, Monday, November 8, 2010
HARTFORD -- Tom Foley abandoned any legal challenge Monday of his 5,810-vote loss in the governor's race, saying that while election irregularities were rampant in Bridgeport an appeal wouldn't overturn Dan Malloy's "conclusive" gubernatorial victory.
In a low-key, gracious valedictory session with reporters, the Greenwich Republican said that after meeting all weekend with his legal team and reviewing a variety of Election Day problems town by town, there was "no credible evidence" of fraudulent voting.
But the concession six days after the election did not stop Chris Healy, chairman of the Republican State Central Committee, from filing requests for investigations on Monday with the U.S. Department of Justice and the office of the Chief State's Attorney.
Malloy, speaking with reporters later Monday in the Capitol, called Foley "classy."
Malloy didn't criticize him for taking the time to decide whether to challenge the numbers, which had been changing nearly every day since the Election Night debacle in Bridgeport, where officials underestimated the turnout and didn't have enough authentic ballots to go around.
"On a personal note, I had taken the measure of Tom Foley a long time ago and as a result did not believe that there would be a legal challenge, although we had to prepare for the possibility that there might be," Malloy said.
"What I mean by that is I knew that Tom was a tremendously reasonable individual who would evaluate the information as it was presented to him. I knew what that information would consist of and that is that, as choppy as the process was, it was, in fact, a fair process that actually represented the minds of the people who were allowed the opportunity to vote," Malloy said, adding that he probably lost more votes than Foley in the Bridgeport voting difficulties.
Malloy said he spoke with Gov. M. Jodi Rell on Monday to set next week for a transmittal of the budget to his transition team, which will craft a new two-year, $19 billion spending package that faces a multibillion-dollar deficit and will be presented to the General Assembly in February.
Rell on Monday offered her congratulations to Malloy and promised to help him prepare to take office Jan. 5.
"I also extend my appreciation to both candidates for the patience they have shown during the extraordinary and often trying days that have followed the election," Rell said in a statement. "Our common goal will always be the very best interests of the people of this great state."
Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz on Monday said Foley's acceptance of the outcome is a vote of confidence in the state's optical scan voting technology.
"I think Mr. Foley vindicated our election results," she said. The total vote changed again on Monday when officials in Portland found that local ballots cast for Malloy on the Working Families ballot line had not been totaled last week.
The current total is 566,671 votes for Malloy, the former Stamford mayor and 560,861 for Foley, a private investor who ran his first race for elective office.
The plurality was 5,810, up from the weekend total of 5,637. The total could still change slightly in the days before the totals are certified on Nov. 25.
Foley, appearing relaxed with his wife, Leslie, and running mate, Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, by his side, said he decided Monday morning to drop any potential challenge.
He said the legal team identified two options for challenges, including the thousands of photo-copied ballots in Bridgeport and six other towns that, if eliminated, "could change the outcome of the race;" as well as possibly requesting a recount or revote in Bridgeport and "several" other towns.
"I have told my team that I am not going to pursue a legal challenge to exclude photocopied ballots," Foley said, his voice breaking slightly with emotion. "Despite their irregularity, I believe they do represent legitimate votes of well-intended voters and must be included in Tuesday's results.
"I am disappointed that the team reported a chaotic situation on Election Day and its aftermath in Bridgeport," Foley said. "They believe that the reported Bridgeport results are unreliable, but not from any willful behavior," he said. "They also believe the number of votes by which the Bridgeport results are likely to be wrong would not, on its own, change the outcome of the race."
Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch, speaking in the Capitol before Malloy's news conference, said there has to be a new method of voting to help prevent the problems of 2010 from ever occurring again.
"We know we can do better than that and there are probably a lot of things we can do to make ourselves more efficient," said Finch, who has appointed a three-person panel to review Bridgeport's handling of the election.
Foley's staff found that typically, election results change slightly during the days after an election and it is the same this year, but the difference would not be by more than several hundred votes one way or the other.
The concession featured a conciliatory Foley, who set gubernatorial spending records of about $12.5 million. The nearly three-month campaign was marked by negative attack ads on both sides.
Boughton said after Foley's remarks that "it's been an amazing, interesting journey and experience and I'm certainly honored to have run on a ticket with a man who has such class and grace."
Malloy and Foley put any animosity aside on Monday, and Malloy even hinted that he would listen to Foley's advice over the next four years as he takes over a state government that is cornered by the recession and few popular options for eradicating a $3.5 billion to $5 billion deficit.
"Tom is somebody whose opinion I would be happy to garner," Malloy said later. "I seriously doubt that he'd want to play a formal role, but we've had discussions in the past and I'm sure that the opportunity to have those will continue in the future."
Malloy promised to persuade the General Assembly to adopt Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, which would result in a higher deficit number than the $3.5 billion deficit lawmakers expect to kick in on July 1 next year, when the next two-year spending package takes effect.
Malloy promised he would be making "timely" announcements as he fills administrative positions.
"It's important that the people of the state of Connecticut know that we are going to change how we do business in the state of Connecticut," Malloy said. "I'm fully cognizant that these are tremendously difficult times as we look at that budget toward the future. The good news Connecticut is filled with good, honest hard-working people who have great strength and resiliency and this will be an administration that will match the people's strength and resiliency."