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Connolly leads Fimian by 820 votes, but recount remains possible

By Ben Pershing
Ben Pershing

UPDATE 1:46 p.m.: Fimian's campaign manager says the Republican will not make any decisions regarding a recount until the canvassing is complete. As indicated below, that process could take several days.

UPDATE 11:16 a.m.: The unofficial results have now come in from Laurel Hill as well, meaning that all the precincts have been counted. Connolly's lead increased by 220 votes and now stands at 820. All precincts are still being canvassed, and there remain several hundred provisional ballots to count, which could take days.

UPDATE 10:40 a.m.: Unofficial results are now in from the Lorton Center precinct, according to the Fairfax County Office of Public Affairs, and they show Connolly winning that precinct, 468 votes to 355 votes. That increases his lead to 600 votes, though that precinct and all others in the county must now be canvassed, a process which could take most of the day. Results from the Laurel Hill precinct are not yet available

ORIGINAL POST: In most of the country, Election 2010 is mercifully (for Democrats) and blissfully (for Republicans) over. But not in the Northern Virginia suburbs, where a closely-watched contest may not be decided for several weeks.

As of this writing, Fairfax election officials are busy trying to count the last handful of votes in the 11th congressional district, where Rep. Gerald Connolly (D) currently leads Oakton businessman Keith Fimian (R) by 487 votes with 99 percent of precincts reporting.

In a statement issued early Wednesday morning, the Fimian campaign made clear it has no intention of conceding.

"Unofficial Election Night results indicate that the race for Congress in the 11th District is too close to call," the statement said. "There are still votes that have not been counted, and we have seen from experience with close elections in Virginia in 2005, 2006 and 2008 that candidates' vote totals can change by hundreds or even thousands of votes in the post-election canvass process. In an election this close, it is important to take the time to get the result right by seeing the counting and canvassing process through. When that process is complete, Keith Fimian is confident that he will be declared the winner."

So far, 166 out of a total of 168 precincts in the 11th district have reported, but two have not. Why? Because one voting machine apiece in the two precincts -- Lorton Center and Laurel Hill, both in the town of Lorton near Interstate 95 -- appeared to malfunction Tuesday night.

The two machines were delivered to Fairfax County Government Center, where at this hour, election officials are attempting to retrieve the results from those machines. It is not clear how long that process will take. It's also not clear how many votes those two precincts will ultimately yield, though in 2008 -- when turnout was high all over the state -- the two precincts recorded a combined 4,781 votes.

More importantly, both precincts favored Connolly in 2008 by more than 20 percentage points.

No matter what those two precincts yield, it appears very likely that the final margin between the two candidates will be less than 1 percent, which entitles the loser to ask for a recount. If the margin is .5 percent or less, the state will pay for the recount. If the margin is between .5 and 1 percent, then the loser would have to pay -- though it's unlikely either candidate would have much trouble soliciting donations for such an effort.

But nothing about this process will happen quickly. The loser can not officially ask for a recount until the state board of elections meets to certify the results, and that is scheduled to happen Nov. 22. Only then would a recount begin, and it's unclear how long that would take -- particularly since it would begin the week of Thanksgiving. Here's a fuller explanation of how recounts work in Virginia.

By Ben Pershing  | November 3, 2010; 10:30 AM ET
Categories:  2010 Virginia Congressional Races, Ben Pershing, Election 2010, Gerald E. Connolly, Keith Fimian  
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Comments

It appears that Connolly has won, particularly since the last remaining precinct is heavily Democratic, and I really do not fear that the canvassing procedure or any recount will alter this result.

But it is a frightening testament to the impact that the infusion of big, corporate money that the incredibly wrongheaded "Citizens United" case has caused will have on future elections if this sad state of affairs is not corrected. Even in Northern Virginia, where a Republican congress can do great damage to the economy due to the heavy reliance on Federal employment and contracts that Republicans may wish to cut or eliminate, the ridiculous ads run by those anonymous groups, saturating the Washington area airwaves for the past month, have had an impact even on our relatively well-informed electorate.

This is really scary. I do not wish to live out the remainder of my life as a serf in a corporate feudal state, but that appears to be where we are headed.

Posted by: FergusonFoont | November 3, 2010 11:24 AM | Report abuse

It boggles my mind that the electorate in District 11, that is supposedly informed and educated, would accept the voting record of Connolly. He supported the health bill, Cap and Trade, and the Stimulus. None of these bills would have benefitted the electorate at the local level, and his vote to effect these bills demonstrates no independent thinking like other Democrats who recognized that these actions were opposed by most Americans.

Posted by: petespagnuolo | November 3, 2010 11:54 AM | Report abuse

It is insulting to repeatedly hear the mind-numbing arrogance of the democrats when they argue that if their side loses, it must be due to malfeasance or corruption. This is a naturally conservative state, and a mostly conservative nation (other than some lunatics on the coasts). Even though people panicked during the recession of 2008 and made the foolish mistake of voting in a bunch of socialists, people are coming back to their senses, and the democrats will be back to the status of noisy irrelevant whiners in a couple of election cycles.

Posted by: arglebargle | November 3, 2010 12:01 PM | Report abuse

Regarding your boggled mind, petespagnuolo, I don't think Connolly is wonderful myself, but I voted for him because of his opponent's unshakable belief that the Constitution does not apply to gay people and pregnant women.

Posted by: GordonCash | November 3, 2010 12:05 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, Mr Gordancash, but Mr Connolly's voting record is plain, simple and visible. You're going to have to prove to me how Fimian is going to vote against Gays and pregnant woman.... and get away with it.

Posted by: petespagnuolo | November 3, 2010 12:12 PM | Report abuse

Question for Ben: What exactly does "canvassing" mean in the context of a recount? The definition I found of the term just describes face-to-face contact with voters by a candidate personally or by his supporters. But as discussed in the recount process, what does this involve?

Posted by: joeduffus | November 3, 2010 12:13 PM | Report abuse

Gordon,
how about Gerry's belief that it is OK to vacuum the brain out of Baby. You are so moral it is sickening.

Posted by: Akcita_Tridens | November 3, 2010 12:29 PM | Report abuse

The apparent outcome of this campaign is testament to the fact that in a liberal area like Fairfax County, negative advertising works.

Connolly and his campaign managers are slime. They tarred and feathered a good man. The Post, The Connection and Channel 8 lent their support in the way of very biased reporting. Connolly is a liar, a phony and one of the most arrogant persons every to hold office. This type of negative campaigning only will drive decent people like Keith Fimian further away from politics, and we will end up with more garbage like Connolly, Jim Moran, and their boot strap lickers like Sharon Bulova, Ken Plum and the rest of the Democrats on the Board of Supervisors.

There is one silver lining to all of this, while Connolly the lowlife is in office for another two years, none of the Socialistic policies he supports will see the light of day, and in 2012, the GOP will take over the Senate and clean up the mess at 1600 Penn. Ave
and have true health care reform, which will involve the tort reform that Gerry's attorney buddies detest so much.

And for all you donors that paid dearly to buy Connolly into office, I doubt you will get much in return, because he is on the wrong side of the ball.

for those fellow conservatives who need a good laugh today, check out savegerryconnolly.com it is a hoot, and it nails Comrade Connolly for who he is a phony and fraud and a habitual spending

for the rest of us who would like a congressman that cares about what we think and has integrity, I would say call Frank Wolfe

Posted by: fairfaxgoper | November 3, 2010 12:37 PM | Report abuse

How does the margin between candidates get calculated in VA?

In Colorado, the percentage margin is the vote difference as a percentage of the votes received by the candidate with more votes. In the Dist. 11 race, that would be 820/111,515 or a margin of 0.736%. This would mean Fimian would have to post bond for a recount and pay for the total cost if he loses.

If you consider the margin as a percentage of total votes case by city/county jurisdiction, the 0.5% margin threshold is exceeded handily, as the margin between them is 2.4% in Fairfax County and 5.5% in Prince William. The results in each of the counties was not that close and exceeds the 0.5% threshold by 480% and 1100% WOW! That doesn't seem close at all.

Will Fimian get a recount for free or not?

Posted by: AnnDaleVtr | November 3, 2010 12:48 PM | Report abuse

As a resident of Maryland, I have been subjected to entirely too much negative drivel by these 2 in the past weeks. If there is anything left in their campaign funds, perhaps they can do something to repay me for the hours of my life that I'll never get back. In one of the richest counties in the country, the best they could do is choose between these two guys? If that isn't a sign that we're in trouble, I don't know what is.

Posted by: didnik | November 3, 2010 1:06 PM | Report abuse

didnik ---one of the richest counties in the country, the best they could do is choose between these two guys?

This is coming from a guy who has Barbara M. as his senator?

Connolly would fit in very well in Montgomery county with all the other socialists, Fimian is just too good for Fairfax County

Posted by: fairfaxgoper | November 3, 2010 1:24 PM | Report abuse

I did not want to vote for either Connolly or Fimian. I'm not a fan of Connolly, but Fimiam did not present any ideas or proposals. He just tried to point out flaws in Connolly. Both campaigns were very negative. It's a disgrace. The political system is broken and needs to be reformed... just like the healthcare system and the financial system... yikes.

Posted by: brihobbs | November 3, 2010 1:28 PM | Report abuse

Connolly would fit in very well in Montgomery county with all the other socialists, Fimian is just too good for Fairfax County

Posted by: fairfaxgoper
=======================
Fimian would fit in well in some country where they stone women - like Iran.

Posted by: solsticebelle | November 3, 2010 2:05 PM | Report abuse

Actually, petespagnuolo, the health care bill affects all those people whose kids are 20+ year old students at NOVA and couldn't afford health insurance. Now they can stay on their parents' insurance. It also helps anyone who wanted to change jobs but couldn't because their angina or cancer several years ago would mean they couldn't have insurance because of a pre-existing condition if he or she changed jobs. As to the stimulus, there are over 3000 active recovery projects in Virginia. All of the people employed on those jobs are affected by the stimulus. Just because you aren't personally affected doesn't mean no one is.

Posted by: happilyretired1 | November 3, 2010 2:31 PM | Report abuse

Amen HappilyRetired1! After a year or so, when the voters realize how health care reform actually helped them--and the Republican lies are contradicted by reality--there will be much more support of the President and his agenda. I bet hoards of the TeaParty-ers are on some government dole--whether Social Security, SSDI, Medicare or Medicaid. Amazing how they are unable to connect the dots to where that funding comes from.

Posted by: commonsense101 | November 3, 2010 2:37 PM | Report abuse

didnik ---one of the richest counties in the country, the best they could do is choose between these two guys?

This is coming from a guy who has Barbara M. as his senator?

Connolly would fit in very well in Montgomery county with all the other socialists, Fimian is just too good for Fairfax County

Posted by: fairfaxgoper
=====

You are part of the problem with politics. You do not look at issues or people, you look at solely party. Believe me, nobody is perfect. But if I were to believe your posts, Keith Fimian was the Second Coming.

Isn't it enough to say that Keith Fimian's beliefs more closely resemble yours, and Gerry Connolly's do not, and that given the choice, you believe Fimian would be the much better legislator?

No, you'd rather attack Connolly for negative ads while completely overlooking Fimian's negative ads.

What's wrong on both sides in this country is people that need to deify all of those that they support and vilify all of those that they don't.

Posted by: machooz | November 3, 2010 2:55 PM | Report abuse

Actually, petespagnuolo, I voted for Connolly mostly BECAUSE "he supported the health bill, Cap and Trade, and the Stimulus." Add to that his support for the arts in his brilliant op-ed in the Post a while back, pointing out the economic value of good schools and a thriving arts community.

Posted by: hoganandbligh | November 3, 2010 2:56 PM | Report abuse

We need Connolly in Congress. One more vote to help prevent the teatirds from trying to default on the debt and shutting down the government. Of course most of the people who vote for them depend on government payments of one sort or another, so it would be comical to watch them try to comprehend what the buffoons they just elected did to them.

Posted by: oldabandonedbeachhouse | November 3, 2010 2:57 PM | Report abuse

it looks to me like when all is said and done, Fimian lost. So is he going to pull a republican and get the Supreme Court to declare himself the winner?

Posted by: MarilynManson | November 3, 2010 2:59 PM | Report abuse

I was surprised by how much was spent on this election. Both seemed to have lots of resources.

It would be hard to have two more different candidates on issues. The closeness of the vote shows how divided the voters in District 11 are.

Posted by: Pensfans | November 3, 2010 3:10 PM | Report abuse

I was surprised by how much was spent on this election. Both seemed to have lots of resources.

It would be hard to have two more different candidates on issues. The closeness of the vote shows how divided the voters in District 11 are.

Posted by: Pensfans | November 3, 2010 3:11 PM | Report abuse

I wonder about the comment about Frank Wolf because he does pander quite a bit to Federal employees and works to bring pork here.

He would be considered a liberal in most of the midwest.

He is the Robert Byrd of northern Virginia.

Posted by: Pensfans | November 3, 2010 3:14 PM | Report abuse

@pensfans

Your comment about Frank Wolf is spot on. That's what puzzles me about the Fimian campaign; he campaigned on theme of cutting spending which would by necessity lead to job cuts in the 11th district. Why would people want to vote for someone who wants to eliminate your job and criticizes you as a federal employee? I just don't get it.

Posted by: zzishate@yahoo.com | November 3, 2010 3:29 PM | Report abuse

petespagnuolo wrote, "Sorry, Mr Gordancash, but Mr Connolly's voting record is plain, simple and visible. You're going to have to prove to me how Fimian is going to vote against Gays and pregnant woman.... and get away with it."

An organization in Springfield (VA) sent me a request to contribute to Fimian's campaign on the basis of answers they say he gave to a survey they sent him. This mailing asserted that Fimian told them he favors (1) a Constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman, (2) a federal law defining conception as the beginning of human life (already introduced in the House), (3) a federal ban on the sale and use of RU-486, (4) a federal law banning abortion except to save the life of the mother, (5) a federal law requiring parental notification before a minor can have an abortion under any circumstances, and a half dozen other things of that ilk.

If they made this up, and Mr. Fimian does not actually favor these things, I hope he sues them for every dime they have. I would without hesitation bet my last dollar they did not make it up. Perhaps if someone from the Fimian campaign is reading this, they could ask him and post his response. I rest my case.

Posted by: GordonCash | November 3, 2010 3:56 PM | Report abuse

solsticebelle:

You really show your ignorance on this issue.

Mr. Connolly your hero, takes a lot of money from the Saudis, in fact, he has really slammed those who have said bad things about the Saudi Academy in Fairfax, a school by which last count, had at least one graduate brought up on terrorism charges. But just so you are not as ignorant going forward, here is the low down on women's rights in Saudi Arabia:

All women, regardless of age, are required to have a male guardian. Women cannot vote or be elected to high political positions. It is the only country in the world that prohibits women from driving. The World Economic Forum 2009 Global Gender Gap Report ranked Saudi Arabia 130th out of 134 countries for gender parity. Oh and if a woman wants to get a job or go to school, she must to get permission from either her father or husband. Oh, and abortion is illegal in S. Arabia too.

IF gerry connolly was such a supporter of real women's rights, do you think he would take a dime from the Saudis?


Get your facts straight! Connolly is a fraud.

Posted by: fairfaxgoper | November 3, 2010 4:13 PM | Report abuse

Maybe it's because Fairfax County has a larger than average percentage of successful people with advanced degrees and government employees who don't like being called un-American elitists by Palin and the Republicans.
--------------
It boggles my mind that the electorate in District 11, that is supposedly informed and educated, would accept the voting record of Connolly.

Posted by: buffysummers | November 3, 2010 4:27 PM | Report abuse

The best weapons we have, in the short run, against the despicable slime that passes for campaign advertising, are our TV remotes. Channel changer. Mute button.

When the politicos start getting the message that they are wasting their money - and repelling, rather than attracting, the voters - with this garbage, things will change. I hope.

Posted by: nan_lynn | November 3, 2010 5:21 PM | Report abuse

When reapportionment comes, Fairfax ought to be split between CD 10 and 11. Prince William County went overwhelmingly for Fimian, while the moochers in Fairfax supported Connolly.

In CD-11, we did have poling problems, since the card mechanisms weren't working, they went into "manual mode."

Maybe someone can explain this????

Posted by: Computer_Forensics_Expert_Computer_Expert_Witness | November 3, 2010 5:31 PM | Report abuse

Fimian is creepy and corrupt to the core just like Kookinelli and their Oil and Coal climate change denying masters. Fimian's still waiting on his $250,000 payoff to sell his soul to the highest bidder if he become a public official. Moochers in Prince William county should stay south of the River with their ever decreasing housing values and higher unemployment. It was all too common to see fimian supporters defacing political signs. Cheaters deserve to lose.

Posted by: Airborne82 | November 3, 2010 5:49 PM | Report abuse

Fimian lost. Get over it.

Posted by: ajlerner1 | November 3, 2010 7:26 PM | Report abuse

"Moochers" in Fairfax? Whose tax money do you think props up the state?

Wow. Some people's inability to face reality is astounding. If you lean that far to the right, I wonder how you walk through a doorway.

Posted by: BDVienna | November 3, 2010 7:47 PM | Report abuse

Here's the deal for Fimian to consider:

1. He was running in a district long held by a Republican, albeit a rather reasonable one who respected the educational level of the district.

2. He was riding the biggest Republican wave in 16 years.

3. He was running against a Democrat who just rubs a lot of people the wrong way.

And he still ... didn't ... win.

Herrity was no better -- his direct mail leading to the primary was so insulting of our intelligence that I had to wonder if he was new to town. (I know -- he's not, of course.)

The GOP can win this seat from Connolly. But they've got to come up with someone who appeals to those who aren't easily fooled by a bunch of idiotic political rhetoric. Particularly in 2012, when turnout will be higher and Democrats might be just as cranky as Republicans are today.

Posted by: BDVienna | November 3, 2010 8:38 PM | Report abuse

I almost wrote in Tom Davis, who is the person I really want. But I voted for Connolly because Fimian is too ideological and has no actual experience even at the county level. Not is not the time to wing things based on ideological platitudes. Davis was pragmatic and that is what I liked about him.

Posted by: yh132 | November 3, 2010 9:46 PM | Report abuse

"...the health care bill affects all those people whose kids are 20+ year old students at NOVA and couldn't afford health insurance. Now they can stay on their parents' insurance. It also helps anyone who wanted to change jobs but couldn't because their angina or cancer several years ago would mean they couldn't have insurance because of a pre-existing condition if he or she changed jobs."

So, that means that we fellow employees get to absorb these additional costs, required by Federal law, in order to support students until they are 26, or employees with pre-existing condidtions who were "inconvenienced" by their previous job. Why do we not get a right to look at the history of an incoming fellow employee, and determine that we would rather not hire them for the monies that they will demand from our salaries and bonuses due to their illness and children? Why do we have to shoulder costs due to their life choices, diet, hereditery conditions, or risks they incure solely on their own time and dime? Why is it that you only look at the benefits ("Oh, look at all those getting health insurance"), and you ALWAYS IGNORE the cost and pressures to distribute to those who have to pay but NEVER BENEFIT?

"As to the stimulus, there are over 3000 active recovery projects in Virginia. All of the people employed on those jobs are affected by the stimulus. Just because you aren't personally affected doesn't mean no one is."

I am personally affected. I have to pay for a project of limited value. If it was so important, why didn't Virginia make the case, and pay for it through it's own legislature and taxes?

Who will employ these people when the project ends? I assume that once the last stone is laid, or the last pavement placed, these people will return to the lines of unemployement, correct? Who will pay for the costs to maintain and upkeep these projects which were so wonderful, that only Federal tax money would be expended to build them? Are we Virginians to absorb these burdens also? How much will that cost us, and why would we impose that burden upon our future wealth?

One last point: If we had not taken $787 Billion tax dollars from Federal coffers (or $13.7 Billion per state), where could we citizens of Virginia have spent that money, either through our legislature of better yet, as private citizens, to help vitalize our economy, meet our needs, and ensure that no one in Virginia had their future wealth burdened by our decisions?

All of these bills, all of these Federally mandated ideas, MUST be paid for by us, from money out of our pockets. THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT CANNOT BEST DETERMINE WHAT IS IN THE NEEDS OF PRIVATE CITIZENS. PERIOD. Hence why that power is not one of the 18 enumerated powers of the Constitution!

Your logic is flawed, and your argument is unreasoned. You cannot fairly consider any benefit without also assessing it's full impacts. The healthcare law and the stimulus are job-killing and cost-driving.

Posted by: waterloom | November 3, 2010 9:47 PM | Report abuse

Although Fimian closed the 2008 gap w/ Connolly on this go round, he still received 50K less votes than he did in 08. If he had been able to get a small fraction of those previous supporters to show up, he would've cruised to a win. Connolly is not a likeable guy and is very beatable (and despite his campaign flyers, he's no "fiscal conservative") - the GOP needs to learn from this race and come back stronger and harder in 2012.

Posted by: TJ44 | November 3, 2010 10:25 PM | Report abuse

Does anyone know what the "canvassing" referred to in the article means?

Posted by: notarepublican | November 3, 2010 10:44 PM | Report abuse

Just confirms we should have voted for none of the above. Neither was worthy of a vote, and none would have been better than either choice. We deserve the government we allow to be in office, but so far i will alway vote againt who ever is in office, period. Term limits one or less.

Posted by: CalWxGuy | November 4, 2010 2:23 PM | Report abuse

What "canvass" means, in the context of this article:

Starting the day after the election, electoral board employees unseal the envelopes containing the Statement of Results and pollbooks (plus the election oath and compensation forms and chief's notes) to verify that the numbers on the Statement of Results match the information on the tapes from the voting machines, both touch screen and scanned paper ballots, plus any hand counted ballots.
Representatives from the public can watch the process and take notes.
This process is called the canvass. It changes the results reported on election night from "unofficial" to "official."

Posted by: sensible | November 4, 2010 3:22 PM | Report abuse

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