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After a week of recounting votes, Connecticut has a winner in the 2nd District.
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Recount Gives Courtney Win In 2nd District

POSTED: 3:18 pm EST November 14, 2006
UPDATED: 9:30 am EST November 15, 2006

Joe Courtney can finally relax.

A roller-coaster recount that stretched nearly a week and uncovered significant vote-counting flaws in at least three communities came to an end Tuesday night, confirming Courtney's general election victory over Rep. Rob Simmons.

Recounts in each of the district's 65 towns gave Courtney the nod, although his election-night margin of 167 votes narrowed to 91, according to results tabulated by town clerks. Nearly 250,000 votes were cast.

"He (Simmons) ran a great campaign," state Republican Party chairman George Gallo said. "He served with distinction in the 2nd district and he can hold his head up very high."

Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz planned a news conference Wednesday morning to announce the results.

Both parties monitored the recount carefully and confirmed that Courtney had the final edge, although their figures differed from each other. Republicans said their count showed that Courtney winning by 96 votes, while Democrats had the margin at 93.

"It's been an exciting year for Democrats and this is the crowning glory," state Democratic Party chairwoman Nancy DiNardo said.

Simmons planned a Wednesday afternoon news conference at his Mystic headquarters, Gallo said. "He'll be announcing his intentions. Whatever his decision, it will be in the best interest of the 2nd District."

Preliminary Election Day returns gave Courtney a slight edge, but the margin fluctuated wildly when towns re-examined their voting machines and envelopes of absentee ballots and began rechecking their original counts.

At one point Monday, Courtney's lead dipped to a low of 66 votes after a 100-vote discrepancy was discovered in Lebanon. Significant recording errors were also discovered in Lyme and Waterford. Minor errors were reported throughout the district, with each candidate picking up or losing one or more votes.

Courtney claimed victory the day after the election and was in Washington this week to attend orientation sessions and have his picture taken with other first-time House member. But he kept a nervous eye on the recount, which showed his already-slim lead narrowing even further.

Simmons' campaign raised concerns about the vote tallies in Norwich, New London and Chester where it appeared more people voted than were checked off by the poll workers on Election Day or filed absentee ballots. No official elections complaints have been filed.

"It creates some level of uncertainty when you see this level of people voting who are unaccounted for," said Chris Healy, Simmons' campaign manager.

It appeared that 9,543 ballots were cast, but only 9,125 voters were logged -- a 418-vote difference, the campaign said. The Norwich moderator could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.

Lawyers for both parties have already contacted Bysiewicz, who predicted possible legal action over the election.

"Based on our conversations from both the Republican and Democratic campaigns, I think both of them, they certainly appear to have that in mind," she said Monday.

The recount was triggered because Courtney's unofficial victory margin of was less than half of 1 percent of the total votes cast.

The 2nd Congressional District race was one of the closest in the nation. It pitted Courtney, a former state lawmaker and Vernon attorney, against a moderate Republican seeking his fourth term.

Stretched across the eastern half of the state, the district is the nation's most heavily leaning Democratic district represented by a Republican with 88,000 Republicans, 123,000 Democrats and 195,000 unaffiliated voters.

The last time there was a recount in the 2nd District was 1994, when then-U.S. Rep. Sam Gejdenson, D-Conn., defeated Republican Ed Munster by 21 votes. Simmons has held the seat since he defeated Gejdenson in 2000, followed by a victory over Courtney in 2002.

For the latest news, stay tuned to NBC 30 Connecticut News and NBC30.com
NBC 30 Connecticut News

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