News

Conn. Sec’y Of The State Concerned About Turnout As McMahon Faces Murphy

Rep. Chris Murphy and Linda McMahon (credit: Murphy Campaign, McMahon Campaign)

Rep. Chris Murphy and Linda McMahon (credit: Murphy Campaign, McMahon Campaign)

HARTFORD, Conn. (CBSNewYork/AP) - It’s Election Day in Connecticut and residents across the state are casting their votes for many races, including President and U.S. Senator.

WCBS 880 Connecticut Bureau Chief Fran Schneidau On The Story

Linda McMahon, the Republican, is running against Rep. Chris Murphy, the Democrat, to fill the seat being vacated by Sen. Joseph Lieberman.

Voter registration is up and a turnout of about 75 percent was expected by the office of Secretary of the State Denise Merrill.

Nearly 2.1 million people are registered to vote, with more than 100,000 citizens becoming new voters since early September.

But she is worried about the after effects of Superstorm Sandy in some hard-hit areas of Connecticut.

Why only two polling places – in New London and Bridgeport – had to be relocated because of power outages stemming from Sandy, she said many with storm-damaged homes left the state and won’t be back in time to vote.

“Unless they were out of the jurisdiction, absolutely gone, and got an absentee ballot in advance, they can’t vote,” Merrill told WCBS 880 Connecticut Bureau Chief Fran Schneidau.

In two years, voters will decide whether to change the state Constitution to allow early voting, which has become so popular in many other states.

An upbeat McMahon told about 70 people at a midday rally Monday with her :Job Creators for Linda” coalition at a manufacturing company in Southington – the same location where 14 months ago she kicked off her second run for the U.S. Senate – that “we’re going to do this” on Tuesday and win the election. The former wrestling executive made numerous stops on the final day before Election Day, greeting Electric Boat Shipyard workers at the gates in Groton during the morning and ending the day with a get-out-the-vote rally in Norwalk.

“I venture to say that the state hasn’t seen a ground operation like this campaign is putting forth, which I hope will help many Republicans get elected in the state,” said McMahon, adding that she has 14 field offices, manned with volunteers and staff.

McMahon, who lost her first bid for the U.S. Senate in 2010, said she feels better about this year’s race and is “cautiously optimistic” about her chances of winning. She said more Democrats have told her this time that they’re voting for her. During the final days of the campaign, McMahon has run a TV ad and distributed literature targeting ticket-splitters who plan to vote for her and Democratic President Barack Obama – a move Murphy’s campaign has criticized as misleading considering McMahon supports Republican Mitt Romney for governor.

“I really feel that we have good momentum going into tomorrow,” she said. “I have felt good about that really for the last several weeks. I think we’ve turned a corner.”

Shortly afterward, several hundred people, including unionized workers, turned out for an enthusiastic pro-Murphy rally at Union Station in downtown Hartford where an optimistic Murphy sounded unfazed by McMahon’s get-out-the-vote effort.

“I’ve had some of the best grassroots operations this state has ever seen in my congressional races and this is even bigger and badder and more aggressive than ever, so we’re going to have a huge grassroots effort out there tomorrow,” he told reporters. “Ours isn’t paid for. Ours is people here, that you saw, going out and working hard to bring people to the polls.”

The last Quinnipiac University Poll showed Murphy with a six percentage point lead, but McMahon’s campaign has argued that the race is closer. Quinnipiac did not conduct a final poll after Superstorm Sandy hit the eastern U.S.

The list of speakers at Murphy’s Hartford rally included former University of Connecticut head men’s basketball coach Jim Calhoun, who got big cheers when he told the crowd he already voted for Murphy by absentee ballot. He urged the crowd to help get Murphy elected.

“This is a critical time for each and every one of us. This is going to shape what happens for the future, for my five granddaughters and grandson, for my own sons, all of you,” he said. “We have to be that village that helps us.”

Calhoun spoke of the need to protect women’s abortion rights, saying “it’s your choice,” as well as the need to make affordable health care available for everyone, issues he said Murphy and Obama both support.

Murphy said his final message to voters is about how he’s an advocate for the middle class and has dedicated his life to public service.

“I’ve spent my life running to people to help, and Linda McMahon spent her life running over people to help herself,” Murphy told the cheering crowd.

Murphy also crisscrossed the state on Monday, greeting workers in the morning at Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. in Stratford. He also had stops planned in Fairfield, Bridgeport, Milford, Middletown, Newington, East Hartford, West Hartford and Bristol.

Do you think Connecticut should adopt early voting? Sound off below.

(TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)