Handful of results might be weeks off
DENVER — Senate races in two states and a handful of gubernatorial contests remained extraordinarily close yesterday and seemed destined for contested vote counts that could drag on for weeks.
The US Senate candidates in Washington state were separated by a few thousand votes. The Republican nominee in the Senate race in Alaska was already gearing up for a legal fight and sending lawyers to the state.
Several governor’s races were in similar territory, including Minnesota, Oregon, and Illinois.
It could take weeks before a winner is named in Alaska’s Senate race because of Senator Lisa Murkowski’s write-in candidacy.
The last US Senate candidate to win as a write-in was Strom Thurmond in 1954, but with 99 percent of precincts reporting early yesterday, write-ins had 41 percent of the vote.
Tea party favorite Joe Miller, who beat Murkowski for the GOP nomination in August by just 2,006 votes, received 34 percent.
But the write-in count speaks only to total ballots cast for write-ins — not to names written on them. Murkowski is one of 160 eligible write-in candidates.
“And so we wait,’’ Miller said on Twitter after polls closed.
Workers will begin counting write-in ballots next Wednesday in Juneau — a week sooner than originally planned — to avoid keeping citizens and candidates in the dark about whose names are on the ballots, said Lieutenant Governor Craig Campbell, who oversees elections.
Miller’s campaign manager, Robert Campbell, suggested a battle was coming.
“As cliched as it is, it’s not over till it’s over,’’ he said.
In Washington, Democratic Senator Patty Murray led Republican Dino Rossi by about 14,000 votes out of 1.4 million cast. Washington votes mostly by mail, and it can take several days to receive and tally all the ballots.
In the Florida governor’s race, Republican Rick Scott was clinging to a lead of just tens of thousands of votes out of more than 5 million cast when Democrat Alex Sink conceded the race late yesterday morning.
In Minnesota, Democrat Mark Dayton and Republican Tom Emmer were in a too-close-to-call race. With returns in from all but 19 precincts, Dayton led by 9,257 votes out of more than 1.8 million cast. That’s within the margin for an automatic recount.
In races declared yesterday:
■ The gubernatorial election between Democrat Peter Shumlin and Republican Brian Dubie in Vermont had seemed headed for the Legislature to decide the winner. Under Vermont’s Constitution, lawmakers chose the governor if no candidate receives 50 percent of the vote plus one vote. No candidate had at least 50 percent, but Dubie conceded to Shumlin’s 3,000-vote lead.
■ In Colorado, Democratic Senator Michael Bennet was declared the winner over Tea Party Republican Ken Buck.
■ Paul LePage, backed by the Tea Party, won the gubernatorial race in Maine, giving Republicans control of the governorship and both houses of the Legislature for the first time in 50 years.
■ Former Stamford mayor Dan Malloy is moving ahead with plans to form a transition team in anticipation of becoming Connecticut’s next governor after the secretary of the state said he won. But Republican businessman Tom Foley said he is also forming a transition team because his numbers show he won.