Koh, Trahan make it official: Both are seeking a recount in Third District race

Lori Trahan (left) led Dan Koh by 52 votes — a margin of 0.06 percent among nearly 85,000 cast — in an Associated Press vote tally this week.
Lori Trahan (left) led Dan Koh by 52 votes — a margin of 0.06 percent among nearly 85,000 cast — in an Associated Press vote tally this week.(GLOBE FILE PHOTOS)

With just dozens of votes separating them, Lori Trahan and Dan Koh each said they filed enough signatures Friday to seek a recount in the Third Congressional District Democratic primary.

Trahan, a former top Capitol Hill aide, led Koh, a former top Boston City Hall aide, by 52 votes — for a margin of 0.06 percent — after nearly 85,000 ballots were cast Tuesday, according to an Associated Press tally.

Both are awaiting final, official totals from local election officials. But those may not be released until Monday, and with the vote seeming likely to stay within the half-percent margin required to hold a district-wide recount, each campaign spent recent days scrambling to gather the necessary 500 signatures before a Friday evening deadline.


Koh, the former chief of staff to Mayor Martin J. Walsh, easily passed the threshold, submitting more than 1,500, according to his campaign. Trahan’s campaign did not provide a number Friday, but spokeswoman Gretchen Grosky said she was “confident that we have submitted a sufficient amount” for Trahan, the onetime chief of staff to former representative Martin T. Meehan.

The two also began bulking up their legal teams. Koh has hired attorney Gerry McDonough, who worked on Senator Elizabeth Warren’s 2012 campaign and Walsh’s 2013 campaign, to help navigate the recount process. Trahan’s lawyer is Dennis Newman, another veteran recount attorney who served as national field director for Paul Tsongas’s 1992 presidential campaign.

“As we have said since Tuesday, Dan is committed to making sure all ballots are counted,” Koh’s campaign said in a statement Friday. “We want the process to progress as swiftly as possible so that the ultimate nominee will have adequate time and resources to win in November.”

If the margin holds, the primary could be one of the tightest congressional races the state has seen in decades. In 2012, Christopher Sheldon edged fellow Republican Adam G. Chaprales by 79 votes after their own recount in their Ninth Congressional District primary. (Sheldon later lost to Representative Bill Keating in the general election.)


The chaotic 1996 Democratic primary saw Philip W. Johnston top William D. Delahunt by 266 votes, win a recount by 181 votes, and then ultimately lose the race when a Superior Court judge reversed the recount after reviewing 956 disputed ballots. Delahunt ultimately won by only 119 votes.

Even closer was the 1976 First Congressional primary, where Democrat Edward A. McColgan beat Edward M. O’Brien by a mere 13 votes. He went on to lose to Silvio O. Conte.

But there are still several steps ahead for Koh and Trahan. Local clerks are expected to certify the election results and send them to the secretary of state’s office, likely by Monday, an office spokeswoman said.

Signature petitions for a recount are then due by Tuesday to Secretary of State William F. Galvin, who then would have six days to order a recount and set its date and time.

Once a winner is confirmed, he or she would move on to the Nov. 6 ballot to face Rick Green, a Pepperell Republican and businessman, and Mike Mullen, an independent candidate and IT director from Maynard, for the seat vacated by retiring Representative Niki Tsongas.

Trahan earned 18,368 votes to Koh’s 18,316 in the 10-Democrat primary on Tuesday, according to the Associated Press. State Representative Juana B. Matias finished third with 12,914 votes, just ahead of state Senator Barbara L’Italien and Rufus Gifford, the former US ambassador to Denmark.


Despite the recount efforts, Trahan has said she is still pushing toward the general election. Her campaign said she is holding a “Women for Lori” event in Lowell on Saturday, headlined by US Representative Katherine Clark.

”Lori is focused on her Republican and independent opponents, and is moving forward with the campaign,” Grosky said.

The 37-community Third District skirts the New Hampshire border from Winchendon in the west to Haverhill in the east.

Reach Matt Stout at Follow him on Twitter @mattpstout.