GOP race goes down to the wire

A dispute over vote tallies from one of Connecticut’s largest cities pushed the battle for the Republican gubernatorial nomination late into the night between Tom Foley and Michael Fedele.

But the third GOP gubernatorial contender, Oz Griebel, bowed out shortly after 10 p.m., when unofficial results showed him trailing Foley by 24 percentage points.

Fedele, Connecticut’s lieutenant governor since 2007 and a former state representative from Stamford, claimed that he had just won his home city by about 3,000 votes, about the same time the Associated Press projected Foley as the winner.

Unofficial results up until that point, with about 75 percent of precincts reporting, had showed Foley, a Greenwich businessman, leading Fedele by nearly 5,000 votes. That left Foley with 43 percent to 38 percent for Fedele and 19 percent for Griebel.

Foley campaign spokeswoman Liz Osborn said her organization did not have any final totals from Stamford, and disagreed with Fedele’s conclusion.

Oz Griebel conceded his bid in the Republican gubernatorial primary about 10 p.m. Tuesday, thanking his staff and family and calling the campaign exhilarating.

“It’s been exhilarating in a lot of ways. We’ve all learned a lot,” he said.

Griebel, the president and CEO of Metro Hartford Alliance, arrived at the campaign reception at the Hartford Marriott about 8:45 p.m. to cheers of “Oz, Oz, Oz” from about 75 supporters. However, Griebel trailed primary challengers Tom Foley and Michael Fedele throughout the evening as results came in.

In his concession, Griebel said his decision to run was one of “three quixotic things I’ve done in my life,” citing his attempt to pursue a career in professional baseball and his first date with his wife, Kirsten, 32 years ago.

“On that night I was convinced I would get her to marry me, so, one for three,” he said.

State Sen. Tony Guglielmo, R-Stafford, the vice chairman of Griebel’s campaign, said that despite the result, Griebel had been a candidate who could bring people together and won admiration from some of Guglielmo’s Democratic colleagues.

“I can’t tell you the number of people on the other side of the aisle who said the only guy on your side who makes any sense is Oz,” Guglielmo said.

“It’s not the greatest of days, but I hope Oz sticks around because we certainly need him in the Republican Party.”