Linda McMahon’s campaign press release that asserted Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch “was caught on camera telling Congressman Chris Murphy, the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, that he will receive a ‘big turnout in Bridgeport.’ “
He wasn’t caught on camera, at least not in the sense that no one otherwise would know what he said. He was speaking in front of an audience that he knew included at several reporters, including two working for The Mirror and Hearst. And in the moment, the promise of a big turnout hardly sounded nefarious.
Of course, Finch couldn’t leave it there.
“We may come in a couple of days late,” Finch said.
That was a joking reference to Bridgeport’s embarrassing performance in the 2010 election, when the city’s registrars failed to order sufficient ballots, forcing elections officials to give voters photocopied ballots, which had to be counted by hand. A court even extended polling hours by two hours.
The McMahon campaign’s video tracker recorded the Finch remark, and its video was provided to the Drudge Report and the Weekly Standard, which mentioned “a mysterious bag of votes” that surfaced in 2010. The latter insisted Finch was joking about “corruption.”
“Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch is at it again, and this time he’s offering up his city’s election shenanigans with a guarantee for Congressman Chris Murphy,” said Corry Bliss, McMahon’s campaign manager. “After hand-delivering the governor’s office to Democrats in 2010, Finch’s brazen disregard for a valid and secured election result has been captured on video for the whole world to see.”
One problem with the use of the word corruption: None was found.
The bag of votes turned out to be less than mysterious. A pregnant elections official fell ill during the Election Night hand-count of the photocopied ballots, so they were placed in a large envelope, sealed and signed by the witnesses. Then the envelope was placed in a canvass bag, locked and sealed.
The bag and envelope were unsealed two days later and counted overnight in the present of witnesses, including me.
Without question, the Bridgeport election was riven by incompetence, but corruption? Tom Foley, the Republican candidate for governor who narrowly lost in 2010, concluded there was none.
Six days after the election, Foley announced he would not seek a court-ordered recount, concluding that errors and irregularities in the state’s largest city were not willful and did not change the outcome.
Foley said his campaign’s review found “no credible evidence of fraudulent voting.”
“So the election Tuesday, although very close, was a conclusive victory for Dan Malloy, and this result should not be questioned,” Foley said. “I hope my supporters accept my word on this.”