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McGee Wins Historic 5th District Primary

Brandon McGee defeated Windsor's Leo Canty in the do-over Democratic primary in Hartford and Windsor's fifth district on October 2.

Seven weeks after the candidates first faced off in a primary to decide the Democratic party's nominee in the race for Marie Kirkley-Bey's soon-to-be-vacated seat in Windsor and Hartford's fifth district, Brandon Mcgee reigned victorious, defeating Windsor's Leo Canty by 153 votes.

McGee received 1,095 votes to Canty's 942 in a race that saw a significant increase in voter turnout Tuesday.

McGee won three of the five active voting districts in the primary, including Windsor's first district (L.P. Wilson), in which he received 182 votes to Canty's 156.

The first primary, held on August 14, ended in a tie between McGee and Canty with each candidate receiving 774 votes.

Following his win in the race he's called "a roller coaster ride" since the secretary of state scheduled the first of two recanvasses, McGee said he's simply overwhelmed.

"I feel overwhelmed, but I'm also interested in the challenges that lay ahead... I'm excited, but the work just started today," said the 28-year-old Hartford resident from his campaign headquarters on Main Street.

McGee gained 321 votes over his total in the August 14 primary; Canty gained 168.

Speaking from his campaign headquarters, McGee said he was able to make up ground, particularly in Windsor where Mayor Don Trinks (who finished third in the August 14 primary and split the Windsor vote) withdrew from the re-vote and threw his support behind Canty, by getting more voters to the polls and old-fashioned door knocking. A large part of the campaign's ability to get people to the polls, he said, was the fact that people became aware of the race during the hearing held in response to McGee's complaint filed in superior court.

"More people came out as a result of the hearing," McGee said. "More people took seriously my mantra: Every election matters; every vote counts."

"I have family members who said they didn't vote [on August 14]. I made sure I brought them to the polls, and they brought people... Members of my fraternity came out, youth, people who just believed in me."

Saying he can't remember sleeping over the last week and a half due to tireless campaigning, McGee contributes his gains in Windsor and Hartford to hardwork, contrary to what some may believe given the nearly $40,000 pumped into support of the Hartford candidate by The Great New England Public Schools Alliance (GNEPSA) last week.

Canty, who went from being named the winner of the primary by the secretary of state in August to losing the race Tuesday, said he believes the GNEPSA contribution was the deciding factor in the election.

"$38,000 over the last four days... We couldn't match it," said Canty from the Union Street Tavern Tuesday evening. "With 150 more votes than last time when we tied, that's $200 a vote," Canty added in reference to McGee's victory margin.

Moving forward, Canty, who has spent years working to get a Windsor Democrat elected to state office, said he's going to concentrate on enjoying life, and is counting down the days until Red Sox spring training begins in Florida, where he owns a home.

McGee says he's looking forward to getting to work and to "working with every person in our district."

"I look forward to working with the Windsor Democratic Town Committee and Leo Canty, who is a great person," he said.

McGee will face Republican candidate Paul Panos in the November 6 general election.

R Eleveld October 03, 2012 at 04:23 AM
Congratulations to Brandon McGee for winning, and for Leo Canty for running a good race. All the candidates, including Mayor Trinks should be congratulated.
Aj October 03, 2012 at 11:02 AM
Nice to hear Mr. Canty has the luxury if owning two homes!!!!!
Teacher Mom October 03, 2012 at 12:04 PM
So Mr. MCGee would like us to believe that it was his relatives and frat brothers that pushed him over the top and not the expensive brochures I received in my mailbox a few days before the election that stated "He's One of Us" or the constant phone calls from a non CT number? His lack of candor here is disturbing. This life long Democrat will NOT be voting for him.
Douglas Woods October 03, 2012 at 01:11 PM
Congrats Brandon on a hard-fought campaign! Nice work.
Al Simon October 03, 2012 at 02:50 PM
The $38,000 of last minute, outside money was a determining factor. While some don't mind because it benefited the person the wanted, it is a huge warning sign for our democracy. I predict you will see these types of expenditures in local races (Board of Ed, Town Council) very soon.
Albert Williams October 03, 2012 at 04:00 PM
Congrats Brandon, keep it going. Leo and staff stop acting like petulant children. Al, you’re next…enjoy the last stretch of your town council tenure. Don't underestimate the reach of District 7!!
Kate October 03, 2012 at 04:02 PM
Lisa pay attention to the bottom of your expensive literature and you would notice it was not paid for by the Mcgee campaign. Let's read people.
Julian McKinley (Editor) October 03, 2012 at 05:09 PM
Given the comments regarding both Leo Canty's and Al Simon's positions in Windsor, I think it's important to point out two things: 1) While the outcome of this election did not enhance Canty's involvement in local politics by giving him a seat in the capitol, it did not diminish it either. He is still the chair of the Democratic town committee and is still the VP at the state's second-largest teacher's union; 2) The way Windsor's municipal elections work, only one thing matters: only the single lowest vote-getter is in jeopardy of losing his or her seat on the town council. In the 2011 election, Simon received either the second or third-highest vote total (I don't have the numbers here in front of me), so it's safe to say it's unlikely a Republican effort from District 7 to seat someone on the town council in 2013 would not knock Simon off the council. If I'm not mistaken seven candidates would have to receive more votes than Simon. Only two candidates received more than he in 2011. Going by the numbers, a drastic political shift, a shift well beyond the voting power of District 7, would have to occur for that change to occur.
Cari October 03, 2012 at 06:05 PM
There have been many events that have occurred since the last municipal election that very much could alter the outcome of the next. No seat on the Town Council is guaranteed. In the last municipal election I believe Mayor Trinks received the highest number of votes showing his popularity in town. However, when he ran against McGee and Canty in this primary he received the lowest number of votes. Serving in any political position is not a guarantee of re-election or advancement in politics. So to suggest that Mr. Simon's spot on Council is safe especially after the controversy surrounding him this past year I think is premature at this point.
Bill Generous October 03, 2012 at 06:22 PM
I agree with your comment Julian. It would be foolhardy to try to unseat Al Simon if he continues to run for Town Council as he gets many votes (2nd highest total in 2011). However, it doesn't mean the lowest vote total couldn't potentially change the make-up of Town Council one day. For example, Herzfeld (D) and Dean (R) were only separated by 216 votes in 2005 and in 2011 it was a 227 vote separation between McKenney (D) and Eleved (R). It only takes "one bad day" for one candidate for potential changes. Also, District 7 has more registered Democrats than Republicans (almost 2 to 1) so actions or potential actions from District 7 (regarding budget or municipal elections) shouldn't necessarily be attributed to Republican efforts. With low turnout for budget referendums and to a lesser extent for municipal elections, 2 or 3 districts with good turnout and agreement in voting can have a greater say than the rest of the districts combined. While I am happy for Brandon McGee, I have some empathy for Leo Canty and Al Simon. In a sense, they have been Dollar Treed.
Julian McKinley (Editor) October 03, 2012 at 06:32 PM
You're certainly right, Cari. There's no way to say any one council or board of education seat is safe. My point, however, is that — in the 2011 municipal election, for example — a total of 20 candidates ran for seats on the council and board of education. Simon himself stated that the number of local candidates creates a campaign season marked by a lack of competition; a campaign season in which candidates for each governing body have a 90-percent chance of winning. I just think that his 90-percent chance of winning, coupled with the relatively high number of votes he received, would make it hard for him to be bumped off. It's difficult to target a person that is in the upper half of their party's vote total given the structure of the local election, but you do have a point in referencing the controversy following the Dollar Tree approval. I guess we'll have to wait until 2013 to see what kind of a push Windsor Republicans make!
Brenda Sorensen October 03, 2012 at 06:36 PM
Just out of curiosity, how common a practice is it to set up municipal elections this way? It seems like a group could form a monopoly of control under this format, and stay in power indefinitely... Is that necessarily in a town's best interest???? It sounds like we are almost like the Supreme Court here, electing people for life unless they are the one lowest vote getter. I would really like to know about how some of the other towns handle municipal elections. Even the most wonderful president in the land is still only given up to 8 years in office ever since FDR,and even he/she is voted upon after the 4th year! Oh, and thanks, Julian, for the heads-up on this, BTW!
WR October 03, 2012 at 07:37 PM
In a no income tax state like Florida.
Albert Williams October 03, 2012 at 07:48 PM
We need to make this more about Brandon's night, he deserves it and less about Windsor's Touwn Council - sorry, my fault. Perhaps an article showing people the reality of Dollar Tree today versus Hee-Haw garbage they called town meetings, there we can spurr good dialogue.
WR October 03, 2012 at 08:05 PM
Julian has a valid point. The third party option could work but can it change the Democratic control. As a Democrat I am tired of the arrogance. I was embarrassed by the comments of some Democrats on Dollar Tree. I am tired of the State handouts. McGee now assumes he has the election in November won. I will vote Obama but I will not vote for the other Dems. It is time for change.
Catherine & Dennis October 03, 2012 at 10:25 PM
WR I couldnt agree more. Arrogance, unwillingness to have a simple workshop to discuss the debacle, Malloy handing out money like chicklets. I too was a life long Democrat before all of this, but though I am now Republican, I am looking for someone with common sense, the knowledge Government is of and by the people (yes, you should listen and comment not just check the clock for 3 minutes to speak while they all text one another), and someone that votes on what is right, not just party or as Al always advertises vote row A! I am tired and embarrassed by it too. In fact, I am considering a screen play and selling this whole mess to the networks as a comedy(we dont consider it funny but you just cannot make this stuff up) -no names changed -no innocent to protect. Sorry to go off subject too, I agree with Albert, this is Brandon's time in the spot light- Congratulations Brandon. Catherine
Mary Ann Overbaugh October 03, 2012 at 11:17 PM
The message of this primary win is to put all on alert...it will not be business as usual by the same group of stale politicians...they will be challenged on their record and behavior. Congratulations to the winner who made the system work at a very high level of integrity.
Teacher Mom October 03, 2012 at 11:40 PM
Kate, I don't generally talk back and forth with people on Patch because I find a lot of the conversation is not even civil, but I want you to know I can read quite well and I can also read between the lines. Mr. McGee is trying to downplay the impact of a last minute infusion of a large amount of cash from GNEPSA. That's a problem for me and that's why I won't be voting for him.
tchjjal October 04, 2012 at 03:34 AM
McGee won fair and square. The fact that you couldn't match his donations as Canty's campaign manager shouldn't cause you to have sour grapes!
Al Simon October 07, 2012 at 03:40 PM
It is confounding how some people's interest blind them to the larger problem at hand. So the $48,000 (their filings amended the total upward) of outside money that bought the extra 150 votes for McGee is no problem to the folks who merely seek some kind of political retribution against Canty or myself. (By the way, it was Windsor that lost here.) You do realize, a company like DollarTree could also choose to spend money with "independent expenditures" to influence the outcome of, let's say, a town meeting, or budget referendum, or town elections, if they felt it would be in their interests. This type of money has no place in our elections. As for our town charter and the electoral process we have in Windsor. I have advocated change from the beginning. No elected office should be filled with a 90% chance of winning for just showing up. To change that, we need 6 votes on the Council to start charter reform.. The Republicans wont consider it because the quota of 4 seats they have lived on would be gone. They dont consider the possibility they could win elections on energy and a good message. Competition would make for better leaders.

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