Election Day may stretch well in to mid-November or beyond, as a bumper crop of midterm nail-biters mean that state elections officials may re-tally the vote in perhaps a half dozen or more House races.
Several of the candidates involved in potential recounts have consulted lawyers to make sure they know their options, though none went so far as to predict that a recount was likely to change the outcome of a race.
As of Wednesday afternoon, Carl Forti, spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, said the GOP was keeping a watchful eye on races involving incumbents Reps. Rob Simmons (Conn.), Robin Hayes (N.C.), Barbara Cubin (Wyo,), Heather Wilson (N.M.) and J.D. Hayworth (Ariz.) — and GOP House campaign leadership hinted that the list may not be fixed.
“We will assist in any recount that we are asked to assist in,” said NRCC Chairman Tom Reynolds (N.Y.).
By late Wednesday, Democrat Joe Courtney’s narrow lead over Simmons appeared to trip a Connecticut state law requiring recounts.
With 100 percent of precincts reporting, the total vote in Connecticut’s 2nd district had Courtney besting the three-term incumbent by less than 200 votes. Although Simmons’ campaign declined requests to indicate whether he would waive a recount, Simmons readied himself Wednesday for a recount, as he said on a GOP conference call, according to a source familiar with the call.
Courtney declared himself the winner on Wednesday. “Right now there is no reason to believe this will get narrower,” said Courtney campaign spokesman Brian Farber.
In addition to those races flagged by the GOP, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokesman Bill Burton said Democrats were keeping tabs on Franklin County Commissioner Mary Jo Kilroy’s (D) attempt to oust the House GOP’s fourth-ranking Member, Rep. Deborah Pryce (Ohio). Burton also said Democrats were concerned about alleged voting irregularities in Florida’s 13th district, where automobile dealer Vern Buchanan (R) narrowly defeated banker Christine Jennings (D) in the race to replace Rep. Katherine Harris (R).
David Kochman, a Buchanan campaign spokesman, said Wednesday afternoon that Jennings was trailing Buchanan by 367 votes.
However, Jennings sounded more optimistic that a turnaround could be afoot, saying in a statement that the Supervisor of Elections has reported 18,382 undervotes, and that that number indicated something had gone awry in the vote counting. An undervote is when a ballot registers votes for other offices but not the office in question — in this case these ballots did not include a vote for Congress.
Jennings also talked of complaints coming into her campaign office from concerned voters, and by Wednesday Democrats already were asking for donations to pay for a recount.
In many states, margins of less than 1 percent can trigger an automatic recount, negating the need for a campaign to lawyer up and demand one from the courts. Such is the case in the 12th district of Georgia, where former Rep. Max Burns (R) believes that is the next step in his challenge to Rep. John Barrow (D).
“We think right now the election could go either way,” Burns campaign spokesman John Stone said, saying his candidate received a big boost Wednesday when the votes from Republican-leaning Effingham County came in, dropping Barrow’s lead from 2,387 on Tuesday night to around 1,000.