NEW BRITAIN — George Logan, the Republican challenger running in the 5th Congressional District to unseat Rep. Jahana Hayes, conceded to the incumbent Democrat in a speech on Thursday morning, after watching for nearly 24 hours as the vote count swung back and forth in favor of the two candidates.
Logan said in a press conference that his lawyers had spent the last 36 hours scrutinizing the election results, but found “no legal recourse to force a recount.”
Logan concluded that “The time has come for this campaign to end.”
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The Associated Press called the race in favor of Hayes on Wednesday night, after the results from the Town of Salisbury, which were reported late because of technical difficulties, placed Hayes at 1,842 votes ahead of Logan — above the margin that would require a recount, according to the state’s Director of Elections.
Hayes took the cities of Danbury, Waterbury, Meriden, New Britain and Cheshire, as well as suburban towns in the northwest corner and toward the eastern part of the Naugatuck Valley. Logan took more suburban towns like New Milford, New Fairfield, and Torrington, as well as many of the towns in the central Naugatuck Valley region, according to the New York Times.
Steven Moore, a professor of political science at Wesleyan University, told CT Examiner before the race was called, that the 5th District represented the Republicans’ last real hope to gain a Congressional seat in New England.
“Republicans have been looking forward to a strong showing kind of more broadly in New England,” he said. “And that definitely seems to have not played out, at least in the way that they expected.”
The race, which Hayes won with 50.4% of the vote, was far closer than her victories in 2018 and 2020, which she won with 56% of the vote and 55% of the vote, respectively.
When asked about the closeness of the race in a press conference on Wednesday evening, Hayes acknowledged that the district was always a competitive one, referring to it as “the Fighting Fifth.” But she also said that this year was different from her previous races. She said that national Republicans this year had put in “millions of dollars” and run a “months-long, all-out campaign to shift the narrative.”
“This wasn’t me against my opponent. This wasn’t a race between two people fighting to represent [this] district. This was a race between me and national Super PACs,” said Hayes. “For me to be able to just stave that off and still come out with a victory … I’ll take it.”
Nancy DiNardo, Chair of the Democratic Party, agreed that one of the challenges in the 5th District was the funding coming from the national Republican Party and the negative advertisements directed at Hayes.
Another factor contributing to the tight victory margin may have been lower voter turnout in the cities.
In the city of New Britain, for example, about 1,000 more people turned out to vote Republican in the congressional race this year in comparison to 2018. But 3,000 fewer voters came out to vote Democrat, creating a much tighter margin, according to numbers from the Secretary of the State.
In Waterbury, the drop in Democratic voters for the Congressional race was also large — a decline of about 4,200 votes on the Democratic line compared to an increase of about 500 votes for the Republican candidate. In Meriden, about 2,000 fewer Democratic voters came out to vote for Congress.
Danbury saw a greater shift, with about 1,500 more people voting for Logan than for Republican candidate Manny Santos four years ago, and about 1,500 fewer voters coming out for Hayes.
The number of voters in these cities that cast their ballots for Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont also dropped in comparison to 2018, although not as much as the number for Hayes.
Moore told CT Examiner in an email that he thought the drop in Democratic voter turnout was related to a “relative enthusiasm gap” that isn’t unusual during a midterm election with a Democratic president.
“The headwinds of Biden’s unpopularity overall and lagging economic performance are certainly going to make [Democrats] less excited to get out than in 2018/20 when they united around repudiating Trump,” Moore said.
Moore said it was also possible that more unaffiliated voters who had voted for Hayes in 2018 had cast their ballots for Logan this year.
Jonathan Wharton, a professor of political science at Southern Connecticut State University, told CT Examiner on Tuesday that he believed the governor’s race this year was less of a draw than it had been in 2018, when the seat was open. He pointed out that in the primary elections of 2018, there were multiple candidates, Democratic and Republican, vying for the endorsement of their respective political parties.
“The gubernatorial ticket back in 2018, it was a very contested election. And so people did show up,” said Wharton.
Ben Proto, chair of the Republican Party in Connecticut, who also attended the press conference, said the party also saw a lower performance in the 5th District than they had expected both in the governor’s race and the U.S. Senate race.
“The biggest issue that I think we have to look at is our ability to communicate with voters in a digital world. The Democrats do it better than we do. Flat out, they do it better than we do,” said Proto.
DiNardo said Hayes and the Democratic party had put a lot of work into Hayes’ re-election campaign, which she felt made a difference in her winning re-election.
“I think it was people coming together, but just Jahana herself, able to talk to people about her record,” said DiNardo.
Logan said at the press conference that he had called Jahana Hayes earlier that morning to congratulate her on her victory. Logan said he plans to continue his work in the district.
“While the outcome of Tuesday’s election was not what we worked hard for, it is a warning that the voters of the Fifth Congressional District want their voices to be heard,” said Logan. “I may not have won this election, but I will not stop advocating for the people in our community and the issues making their lives more difficult each and every day.”
As for Hayes, she said she feels a “heightened sense of responsibility” when thinking about her return to Washington.
“Right now people are hurting, and there’s going to be some tough choices made in the next congress, things like social security, things like protecting a woman’s right to choose, food security and the next farm bill … those things are so deeply important to me,” she said.
This story has been expanded and updated