UPDATED 11/05/14 1:09 a.m.
HARTFORD, Conn. (CBSNewYork/AP) — In the wee hours of the morning Wednesday, Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Foley gave what appeared to be a concession speech, saying he probably had lost but was not sure.
Foley said Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy had declared victory, but had not called him. Thus, Foley said he would not yet formally concede the race, but said it appeared that he had lost.
“It looks to me like we have probably not won,” he told his supporters.
Foley went on the concession speech he had prepared, while presenting it as hypothetical and not final.
“I regret that I will not be able to deliver the change in Connecticut that we have dreamed about and feel would be in the best interests of our great state,” he said.
Foley’s remarks came even though with 65 percent of the precincts reporting, CBS News results early Wednesday showed Foley polling slightly ahead – with about 50 percent of the vote compared to 49 percent for Malloy.
But votes from some precincts in largely Democratic Hartford were the last that had yet to be returned. Those votes were expected to go for Malloy.
Malloy had spoken before his followers about 12:30 a.m. Wednesday, in a speech that fell short of claiming victory, but expressed strong expectations that he would win with Democratic strongholds the remaining votes to be counted, CBS Connecticut reported.
Earlier in the evening, the Malloy campaign was fired up, but visibly tense with no clear victory in sight, CBS2’s Weijia Jiang reported.
“If you believe that everything that we’ve done is just a down payment for the next four years; if everything we’ve accomplished is just the beginning of what we can do together, I hope you showed up to the polls today,” said Devon Puglia of the Connecticut Democratic Party.
Despite the uncertainty, campaign volunteers expressed some optimism.
“I’m so excited for it,” said Malloy campaign volunteer Wendy Demora. “I’ve been waiting all day.”
“I’m feeling very strong,” added Malloy campaign volunteer Bethy Guiles. “We worked very hard. We started back in January.”
Meanwhile at Foley’s campaign headquarters in Old Greenwich, Foley’s supporters had been cautiously optimistic about their chances. Campaign spokesman Chris Cooper told CBS2’s Lou Young said he had liked the numbers he had seen earlier.
“We’re hearing that the Republican numbers are up. We’re hearing that there’s not as much activity in some of the cities. So we’re thinking that between more Republicans voting and a little less turnout for Democrats in some of their traditional areas, we’re in pretty good shape,” Cooper said.
Shelton, Connecticut Mayor Mark Lauretti also expressed optimism.
“I think things are trending in the right direction, actually,” Lauretti said. “You know, I think if you look back four years ago, and we were trailing in the play all the way. We’re not doing that. We’re now in the lead.”
Just like four years ago, the final decision could ultimately be made by a small number of votes. And given the tight race, many were frustrated and embarrassed by delays at polling places earlier in the day.
Multiple polling stations in Hartford did not receive printed voter lists in time for the 6 a.m. start of voting, said Av Harris, spokesman for the secretary of the state’s office.
Malloy himself had to wait 35 minutes when he voted in Hartford about 7:45 a.m., said Mark Bergman, a spokesman for the governor’s campaign.
Two Hartford polling places extended their hours to 8:30 p.m. following a judge’s ruling spurred by the delays.
A Quinnipiac University Poll released on Monday gave Malloy a slight lead over Foley, a Greenwich businessman and former U.S. ambassador to Ireland. However, that lead was within the survey’s margin of error, prompting both major party candidates to campaign in the final hours of what has been a tight and contentious election.
In 2010, Malloy ultimately won the governorship by 6,404 votes out of 1.1 million cast. It took several days of recounts that year before Foley conceded.
Malloy stressed Monday that his supporters should not be over-confident this year, urging them to help get voters to the polls. Turnout is expected to be about 55 percent, lower than a presidential year.
“This has been a tough campaign,” Malloy told a crowd of about 50 volunteers in West Hartford, a day after President Barack Obama headlined a rally on Sunday for the governor in Bridgeport. “We were pretty far back, and we’re making progress. And I truly believe that all we have to do is get our voters to vote tomorrow and we’re OK.”
The first-term governor, who has struggled in the polls with his favorability ratings, was not taking any chances on Tuesday. After voting in Hartford in the morning, he was scheduled to make numerous campaign stops throughout the day, including at a rally in Manchester.
If Malloy had lost, he would have been the first incumbent governor in Connecticut to do so since Republican John Davis Lodge, who lost to Democrat Abraham Ribicoff in 1954.
Much of this year’s campaign has focused on Connecticut’s economy. While Malloy contends the state has turned a corner and the job picture has improved under his leadership, Foley claims the Democrat’s policies, including higher taxes he proposed, have slowed the state’s economic recovery and stymied job growth.
“The tax increase was a bad policy decision,” Foley said. “It’s hurt people in Connecticut, slowed down the economy, cost us jobs.”
“This is a guy who hasn’t paid income taxes although he’s worth tens of millions of dollars,” Malloy said. “He hasn’t paid income taxes in three years.”
The election was considered one of the most negative races for governor in the country, according to an analysis conducted by Wesleyan University.
Millions of dollars from outside groups, including the Republican Governors’ Association that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie chairs, the Democratic Governors’ Association and gun-related organizations, has flowed into the race, often funding critical ads.
Both Malloy and Foley participated this year in the state’s public campaign financing system and their spending has been limited to about $6.5 million apiece.
Besides Malloy and Foley, who were each cross-endorsed by minor parties as well, the name of conservative petitioning candidate Joe Visconti will appear on the ballot. Visconti, however, announced over the weekend that he is throwing his support to Foley.
Besides governor, Connecticut voters chose candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives, state constitutional and legislative seats.
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