Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Merrigan claims victory in Governor's Council Race

Staff Writer

It looks as if as Thomas Merrigan has won the extremely tight race for the 8th District Governor's Council seat, barely edging out incumbent Peter Vickery, of Amherst.

Merrigan, of Greenfield, said his own campaign added together the vote counts from the 93 communities in the district, as official totals were not yet available.

"It's hard to have complete confidence," he said, until he gets independent verification of the numbers but his count has him up by 587 votes.

Meanwhile, Vickery this morning acknowledged that by his count, Merrigan is ahead by 500 votes.

Still, he said he's considering seeking a recount.

"I'm keeping my options open," he said. "This is too close to call; this is wafer thin in a district this size."

Merrigan said the night was a long one, reminiscent of the elections years ago before computerized voting.

"It was like an old-fashioned paper vote count. We've got electronically spoiled in the last few years. By 10 o'clock you say it's all over; here's the winner; here's the loser and call it a night. I went to bed not knowing."

The big surprise in the race was Rinaldo Del Gallo, a third Democratic candidate who dropped out of the race on Friday, Merrigan said. Del Gallo got about 8,000 votes by Merrigan's count.

Merrigan said he would work as hard in the general election, where he will be matched up with Michael Kogut, an independent candidate from Springfield, and Republican Michael Franco, veterans agent for Holyoke.

"I know that Peter Vickery is Democrat from top to bottom, and I don't have any doubt that he's going to support me," Merrigan said.