With potentially hundreds of ballots still to be tallied, Lori Trahan and Dan Koh spent Thursday scrambling to prepare their own requests for a recount in the chaotic Third Congressional District Democratic primary.
Both campaigns face a 5 p.m. Friday deadline to submit 500 signatures to petition for a district-wide recount in the race, which Trahan — a one-time chief of staff to former US Representative Martin T. Meehan — was leading by 52 votes, or a 0.06 percent margin among the nearly 85,000 cast, according to an Associated Press tally.
The margin prompted Koh, the former chief of staff to Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh, to begin collecting signatures Wednesday. But while Trahan said she’s “confident” she is, in fact, the nominee — and is gearing her campaign toward the Nov. 6 election — she is simultaneously making moves to steel herself against any changing winds.
Gretchen Grosky, a Trahan spokeswoman, said the campaign was collecting signatures, both for a potential district-wide recount — which requires the margin to be within a half-percent — but also more targeted ones at the precinct level, which carry a slightly different timeline and processes.
“We’re simply covering our bases and protecting our rights in the process,” Grosky said.
Whether her lead could flip remains to be seen, given any remaining votes could be heavily divided among what was a 10-Democrat field. Eda Matchak, Lowell’s director of elections, said the city’s election commission is expected to sort through roughly 150 provisional ballots Friday. Officials were also still verifying more than 100 other hand-counted ballots, she said.
William J. Maloney, Lawrence’s city clerk, said his staff was in the process of counting 34 provisional ballots. “The Lawrence Election Division is also anticipating a recount of all 24 precincts,” he said in an e-mail.
Under state law, after either of the campaigns file signatures Friday, they’re due next week to Secretary of State William F. Galvin, who then must set a recount date within six days. That means any final result could be pushed into mid-September.
That possibility is not sitting well with everyone.
State Senator Barbara L’Italien, who finished fourth in the 10-Democrat primary on Tuesday, called a potential recount “very concerning,” arguing that it could sap attention and resources better put toward the nine-week sprint to the Nov. 6 election.
Rick Green, a Pepperell Republican and businessman, and Mike Mullen, an independent candidate and IT director from Maynard, are also on the ballot.
“I firmly believe that we ought to move forward with who is the winner at this point,” L’Italien said, adding of the other candidates: “I think everyone else has to move on. I think he [Koh] ought to as well if, when this is certified, she has the lead.”
Gus Bickford, the chair of the state Democratic Party, downplayed the impact an elongated recount process could have on the Democrats’ efforts.
“Every vote needs to be counted. We cannot have a question like that,” he said.Reach Matt Stout at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @mattpstout