DENVER (AP) - Senate races in three states and a handful of
gubernatorial races remained extraordinarily close Wednesday and
seemed destined for contested vote counts that could drag on for
The tight votes signaled how closely divided American voters are
in an election that produced a split Congress, with Republicans
taking control of the House and Democrats maintaining power in the
The candidates in the Washington state and Colorado Senate races
were separated by a few thousand votes after campaigns that
attracted tens of millions of dollars in spending. The Republican
nominee in the Alaska Senate race was already gearing up for a
legal fight and sending lawyers to the state.
Several gubernatorial races were in similar territory, including
Oregon, Illinois, Connecticut and Maine.
It could take weeks before a winner is named in Alaska's Senate
race because of Sen. Lisa Murkowski's write-in candidacy.
No U.S. Senate candidate has won as a write-in since Strom
Thurmond did it in 1954, but with 99 percent of precincts reporting
early Wednesday, write-ins had 41 percent of the vote.
Tea party favorite Joe Miller, who beat Murkowski for the GOP
nomination in August by just 2,006 votes, received 34 percent.
But the write-in count only speaks to total ballots cast for
write-ins - not to names written on them. Murkowski is one of 160
write-in candidates eligible for the race that featured former
Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's vigilant support of Miller, and
pro-Murkowski ads featuring the late Sen. Ted Stevens. The beloved
senator filmed the ads 10 days before his death in a plane crash
are ran with the blessing of his family.
"And so we wait," Miller said in a Twitter post after polls
The focus now turns to how and when the write-in ballots are
counted. Lt. Gov. Craig Campbell, who oversees elections, said
Wednesday that write-in votes for "Joe Miller" won't count toward
Miller's tally because he isn't an official write-in candidate.
Miller's campaign manager, Robert Campbell, suggested a battle
"As cliched as it is, it's not over till it's over," he said.
The lieutenant governor said he planned to ask the Division of
Elections to begin determining who received write-in votes within
the next few days.
"The whole point is, we want to do the right thing and we want
to do it as fast as we can," he said.
In Colorado, Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet led Republican
challenger Ken Buck by about 7,000 votes out of 1.6 million cast, a
margin of less than 1 percent.
In Washington, Democratic Sen. Patty Murray led Republican Dino
Rossi by about 14,000 votes out of 1.4 million cast. Washington
votes almost entirely by mail, and it can take several days to
receive and tally all the ballots working their way through the
Washington and Colorado faced the prospect of recounts because
the tallies were so close.
Washington has a long history of tight races. Rossi lost the
2004 governor's race by just 133 votes and endured a similarly
tight vote in a rematch four years later. In 2000, Maria Cantwell
edged Sen. Slade Gorton by about 2,000 votes.
"Unfortunately, we don't know what's going to happen in this
race yet," Rossi told supporters in Bellevue. "There's still a
lot of ballots to count, you know. But it's Washington state. What
are you going to do?"
Florida has a unique place in American history when it comes to
close vote counts given its role in settling the 2000 presidential
race. This year, it looked like it could have been the site of a
smaller post-election squabble in the governor's race between
Republican Rick Scott and Democrat Alex Sink.
Scott was clinging to a lead of just tens of thousands of votes
out of more than 5 million cast when Sink conceded the race
In Vermont, the gubernatorial election between Democrat Peter
Shumlin and Republican Brian Dubie seemed headed for the
Legislature to decide the winner in January.
Under Vermont's Constitution, lawmakers chose the governor by
secret ballot if no candidate receives 50 percent of the vote plus
one vote. Shumlin had 49.4 percent of the vote early Wednesday
compared with Dubie's 47.9 percent, but Dubie conceded Wednesday
and has said he wouldn't pursue election in the Legislature if he
was clearly behind.
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)