Minnesota braces for potential recount, other races undecided

Rachel Rose Hartman
The Upshot
Mark Dayton with running mate Yvonne Prettner Solon
Mark Dayton with running mate Yvonne Prettner Solon

During the 2008 election cycle, the razor-thin Minnesota Senate race dragged on for weeks on end, delaying the seating of eventual Democratic victor Al Franken for a full eight months. This year, it's the Minnesota governor's race that's so far failed to produce a clear winner.

The open-seat race between Democrat Mark Dayton (photo, left) and Republican Tom Emmer is currently close enough to trigger an automatic recount. Sitting governor Tim Pawlenty has already declared that he's willing to extend his time in office if the vote isn't decided by the end of Pawlenty's term.

Minnesota may feel like it's the only state that has to trudge through these draining recount melodramas, but that's not (quite) so. Below we run through the Senate, gubernatorial and House races that remain undecided and handicap what lies ahead in each contest:

Alaska Senate: Alaska elections typically take time to count, since the state receives many overseas and military ballots. But this year's Senate race is further complicated by a lead write-in candidate -- Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski. The incumbent senator told reporters Wednesday that she was forming a legal defense fund to oversee the count and had assembled a "top-notch legal team," including Ben Ginsberg, who helped lead the GOP side of the 2000 presidential recount in Florida, the New York Times reports. "Write-in" currently leads Republican Joe Miller in initial totals, but no write-in ballots have yet been opened, so it's unclear how many votes are for Murkowski. The start date for write-in ballot counting has been moved up to Nov. 10.

Washington Senate: Washington state voters are not so fondly remembering the last major recount in the state, when Republican Dino Rossi ran for governor in 2004 and a final result was not certified until seven months later. Rossi is now trailing Democrat Patty Murray in the Senate race, and many votes remain to be counted. State law mandates a recount if a margin is less than 2,000 votes and also less than one-half of one percent of the total number of votes cast. Rossi trails Murray by about 27,500 votes, according to totals updated Wednesday evening.

Connecticut governor: The Associated Press called this race for Democrat Dan Malloy, but then withdrew the call. Republican Tom Foley asked the state to delay the release of vote totals, citing discrepancies. But officials denied Foley's request Thursday and plan to announce official results by the end of the day. This means the race may have a declared winner as early as Thursday night -- officials say the margin was unlikely to trigger an automatic recount.

Minnesota governor: The race between Dayton and Emmer is currently close enough to trigger an automatic recount, but that call can't be made until the race is certified on Nov. 23.

Arizona 7th District: Democratic Rep. Raul Grijalva's Republican challenger, Ruth McClung, isn't conceding, even though the incumbent has declared victory. There are still votes to be counted in the race, but victory looks like a long shot for McClung at this point.

Arizona's 8th: Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords narrowly leads Republican Jesse Kelly -- but enough ballots remain to be counted to make a difference in the race.

California's 11th: Democratic Rep. Jerry McNerney leads Republican challenger David Harmer by just 121 votes, according to totals updated Wednesday evening. Mail-in and absentee ballots remain to be counted.

California's 20th: Republican challenger Andy Vidak leads Democratic Rep. Jim Costa. Mail-in and absentee ballots remain to be counted.

Kentucky's 6th: Democratic Rep. Ben Chandler has claimed victory, but Republican challenger Andy Barr says he will wait until vote totals are reported Friday to decide whether to request a recount.

Illinois' 8th: Absentee votes are still being counted in this too-close-to-call race between Democratic Rep. Melissa Bean and Republican Joe Walsh. Walsh currently leads the incumbent by 553 votes.

New York's 25th: Republican Ann Marie Buerkle has moved ahead of Democratic Rep. Dan Maffei as absentee ballots continue to be counted, according to the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle.

Virginia 11th: Democratic Rep. Gerry Connolly narrowly leads Republican Keith Fimian as provisional ballots continue to be counted. The margin as of Thursday afternoon was still close enough to permit Fimian to request a recount.

Washington's 2nd: Democratic Rep. Rick Larsen pulled into the lead Wednesday as votes continue to be counted in his race against Republican John Koster.

(Photo of Mark Dayton and running mate: Jim Mone/AP)