BERLIN - Mike Gagliardi, the GOP candidate for the 30th House District seat, said he accepts the results of the recount vote and conceded to House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz, the Democratic incumbent.
“I want to thank all of the many volunteers in Berlin and Southington who worked tirelessly to create a successful campaign in just three weeks,” Gagliardi said in a statement. “The odds were against us but we turned the race into a historically close contest.”
The political newcomer went on to thank all the residents who voted for him and said it was humbling to know that over 5,000 people, most of whom he never met, supported him and his platform of lower taxes, fiscal discipline and smaller government.
“I offer my congratulations to Joe Aresimowicz on his re-election and I wish him my best,” Gagliardi said. “I hope Joe will work together with Republicans to make Connecticut more attractive to businesses, and ease the tax burden on everyone so retirees, young adults and others will choose to stay in our state.”
Aresimowicz said he received a concession call from Gagliardi Wednesday night.
“I especially appreciate him reaching out after such a close race, and we agreed we all need to move forward and let the focus be on working to help improve the lives of everyone in Berlin, Southington and throughout the state,” Aresimowicz said.
The candidates’ statements came a day after an automatically triggered recount found that Aresimowicz beat Gagliardi by 50 votes.
Gagliardi, a political newcomer, replaced Steven Baleshiski, a 22-year-old college student, who withdrew from the ballot three weeks prior to the election after he received criticism for negative Facebook posts and the party withdrew its endorsement.
Aresimowicz originally won the election by 37 votes on election night, which was within the 0.5 percent margin of victory of the total 11,760 votes in the district for an automatic recount. The district comprises most of Berlin and parts of Southington.
J.R. Ramano, chairman of the Connecticut Republican Party, told The Herald Tuesday after the recount, “We’re going to court” over 51 absentee votes that were thrown out because they were cast for Baleshiski. Those votes should’ve counted toward Gagliardi, Ramano said.
However, with a judge unlikely to throw out the results of the election, Gagliardi said he made the decision to not pursue it and instead work to have legislation done on clarifying the process of how replacement candidates appear on the ballot.
Gagliardi said perhaps absentee ballots shouldn’t go out until the absolute deadline for a candidate to be on the ballot. Gagliardi met that deadline, which was 21 days before the election.
The Connecticut Secretary of the State’s Office said there is no “transitive property” for votes cast for a candidate when they are replaced with a new one. A vote cast for someone who is no longer a candidate doesn’t count, a spokesman for the office said.
Aresimowicz, who was first elected to the legislature in 2004 after serving locally for three terms, has said this will be his last term in office with no further political ambitions.
On Wednesday, the State Election Enforcement Commission voted to investigate a complaint submitted by Aresimowicz about illegal activity of coordination and undocumented independent expenditures by the Berlin Republican Town Committee and Gagliardi’s campaign committee with a “concerned taxpayer”
Sal Bordonaro, the treasurer of the Berlin Republican Town Committee and Gagliardi’s campaign committee, has denied the allegation.
Charles Paullin can be reached at 860-801-5074 or firstname.lastname@example.org.