Recount scheduled for close Southington House race

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SOUTHINGTON — A recount will follow a rollercoaster of an election in the 81st state House District where Democrat Chris Poulos leads his Republican opponent Tony Morrison by six votes, according to unofficial state results.

Town election officials, overseen by leaders of both parties, will recanvass the votes at 10 a.m. on Monday at Town Hall.

The two candidates were vying for an open seat vacated by Republican John Fusco. The district is entirely within Southington.

As districts reported to party headquarters Tuesday night, vote totals were close but Morrison established a lead of about 300 votes.

Spirits were high in the Republican camp due to the lead as well as victories for other Southington Republicans such as state Sen. Rob Sampson. Party officials knew there were about 1,100 absentee ballots still to be counted but didn’t expect them to change the result. The absentee ballots heavily favored Poulos, leading to a slim margin of victory for the Democrat according to unofficial totals from both parties Tuesday night.

Unofficial state results Wednesday, which include same-day registration ballots, show Poulos with a lead of six votes over Morrison.

Recount requirements

Under state law, an automatic recount can be triggered in two ways: for elections decided by less than 20 votes; or by less than one half of one percent if the difference is not more than 2,000 votes. The defeated candidate can waive his right to a recount but Morrison doesn’t plan on doing so. He won’t be able to attend Monday’s recount but said there will be people present on his behalf.

“I’m looking forward to going through that and making sure that all the ballots are valid and they’ve been counted. At the end of the day, whatever happens happens and we’ll respect the recount,” said Steve Kalkowski, the Republican Town Committee chairman. “I’m pleased with the turnout overall. Obviously I’m not pleased with this 81st (district) race, but let the recount happen.”

Poulos said Wednesday that with an election this close, he assumed there’d be a recount. He’ll have election lawyers at the recount to ensure that votes are recounted “efficiently and properly.”

“We’re confident that it’s going to be a win,” Poulos said. “It’s important that we get accurate information… We don’t want people questioning the election.”

Name recognition

Poulos served on the Town Council while Morrison is a Board of Finance member. Poulos wasn’t asked to run again by the local Democratic party leadership, which has since been replaced. He broke with some members of his party in joining council Republicans in calling for state efforts to address car thefts and burglaries in town.

In a speech Tuesday night to supporters, Poulos described himself as a moderate. Kalkowski agreed with the description Wednesday, saying Poulos would do a good job for Southington if he won.

Kalkowski said Morrison ran a “really, really solid campaign,” but that Poulos’ greater visibility as a former councilor gave the Democrat an advantage at the polls.

“He’s a better known person in town,” Kalkowski said of Poulos. “Sometimes races become a popularly contest and become who people know versus who they don’t know.”

Erin Cowles, the Democratic Town Committee chairwoman, said Poulos had knocked on a lot of doors and worked hard campaigning.

“He’s a great candidate, he’ll do a great job for Southington,” she said.

jbuchanan@record-journal.com203-317-2230Twitter: @JBuchananRJ


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