Berlin Democrat Jonathan “Jack” Fazzino won a narrow victory for the 83rd House District seat Tuesday against Meriden Republican Lou Arata, according to unofficial results reported to the Secretary of the State’s office.
But Arata said Wednesday he will challenge the race tally, which shows Fazzino won the district by a 114-vote margin, according to the state’s election office. The margin does not qualify for an automatic recount under state law.
The district includes parts of Meriden, Berlin and Cheshire and has been held by retiring Democratic state Rep. Catherine Abercrombie since 2005, when she won in a special election.
According to unofficial results, Fazzino won Meriden 2,486 to Arata’s 2,216, while Arata won Cheshire 981 to Fazzino’s 975 and Berlin 1,675 to Fazzino’s 1,525. An automatic recount is triggered when the margin is less than 0.5% of the vote total. In this case, the 114-vote margin is 1.156% of total votes cast.
Both candidates were reluctant to claim victory Tuesday. But after confirming results with town clerks’ offices and counting absentee ballots and election day registrations, Fazzino and other Democrats knew late in the evening he had won.
“We had a great feeling of where we were,” Fazzino said. “It was beyond words. We put so much collective effort into the campaign, to have the realization to represent the district I come from is a privilege beyond anything I can compare.”
Fazzino, a Berlin town councilor, praised Arata for running a campaign focused on the issues.
“I have nothing but respect for him,” Fazzino said. “We ran a civil, issues-campaign. We showed it doesn’t have to be so contentious.”
Fazzino credits his win to listening to voters who are concerned about safety and the economy.
“We need to make an affordable Connecticut for everyone,” Fazzino said. “This comes down to meeting people where they’re at and meeting the difficulties and challenges people are facing. People want someone who is going to fight for them up in Hartford.”
Tuesday’s election was Arata’s third try at the seat where the margins were less than 300 votes.
Arata said he was having difficulty squaring the numbers reported by the towns with the numbers listed on the Secretary of the State’s website.
He also heard reports from news organizations early Wednesday that showed him the victor at more than 5,000 votes.
“There is a huge margin of difference and voters need to know every single vote is accounted for,” Arata said. “We’re going to be investigating this. This smells very fishy to me.”
According to election officials, vote tallies sent to state election offices included absentee ballots and election day registrations.
Meriden City Clerk, Denise Grandy, a Republican, said a review of absentee ballots with Democratic and Republican moderators did not change the official count.
“They went over everything and the paperwork matched,” Grandy said.
When asked about any discrepancies between town numbers and the Secretary of the State’s office reporting, a spokesman said the vote totals are entered into the system by town election officials.