Atlantic City Mayor Lorenzo Langford isn’t quite ready to concede defeat, although he says he’s not officially retracting his concession speech.
“This thing really is not over yet,” he said on Harry Hurley’s “Hurley in the Morning” talk show on WPG-1450AM. “We shouldn’t close the chapter on this until it has been official.”
Republican Don Guardian had a 347-vote lead Thursday, according to the Atlantic County Board of Elections. The 3,687-to-3,340 count includes 100 percent of the polls and 1,057 mail-ins. There are 518 provisional ballots, but it was unclear when they would be counted. A meeting set for Friday morning has been postponed due to lack of a quorum. No new date was set.
By law, they have to meet by Monday to certify the results. They can adjourn twice, but no later than Nov. 18.
The deadline for recounts is Nov. 20.
About 9:15 p.m. Tuesday, Langford indicated he would concede after seeing mail-in numbers provided to The Press of Atlantic City gave Guardian a 3,398-to-2,886 lead with two districts remaining — both in expected Langford strongholds.
“If your numbers are right,” he said, looking at a Press of Atlantic City reporter’s notebook, “we’re not going to make that up.”
Langford told Hurley he heard many didn’t vote because they believed his win was inevitable.
Either way, this is his last election, said the mayor, who made that same vow after winning re-election in 2009. He said in February that he wasn’t wrong at that time, but that the creation of the Tourism District, along with a plummeting ratable base in the city and hits from two major storms made him rethink a third term.
Guardian’s win was a surprise to many. It’s seen as a key in establishing a better relationship between the city and state. He would be the first Republican to win election since James Usry in 1986. Usry, the city’s first black mayor, was defeated by current state Sen. Jim Whelan in 1990.
Meanwhile, Guardian said, he will continue to prepare for the transition into the mayor’s office but is not taking anything for granted.
His numbers matched those provided to The Press by the county Board of Elections, which give him a 347-vote lead with 518 provisional ballots to be counted.
“Because we had so many volunteers at all 21 polling places, we were tracking everyone that came in, so we’re pretty familiar with who’s in the 518,” Guardian said.
He made clear that while they knew who voted, they did not know how each person voted.
Typically, he said, about 10 percent of those provisional votes would be disqualified.
That would mean 467 votes, with Langford needing to receive about 407 and Guardian 60 just to tie things up.
“If we look at how we did either at the polls (or through mail-ins), I’ll get about 10 percent more than my opponent. But even if we split them in half, the 347 lead is too much,” Guardian said. “I’m not taking anything for granted.”
As a Boy Scout, Guardian said, he will be prepared either way: “If he gets the 80 percent or 90 percent he needs (of the provisionals) and I’m not the mayor, then I need to buckle down and get back to my job at the SID. But I feel really good about it.”
Langford raised questions about late voting in the 6th Ward, where he lost 1,104-to-255. The Lower Chelsea area is typically the strongest vote-getter for Republicans, those at Langford’s campaign headquarters acknowledged Tuesday night.
Guardian said late voting is not unusual for most polling places, as people will vote after work. He also said he was making calls for votes until about 7:15 election night.
Langford said on the air that he wouldn’t bother fighting that because “this thing shouldn’t have been this close in the first place.”
His campaign manager, Michael Harvey, told The Press that Tuesday night’s results were “very preliminary” and that from things they were hearing concerning trouble voting at different polling sites, a good majority of the provisionals could go to the incumbent mayor.
He said he was not sure of the numbers, but there were “a lot of provisional votes still out there and some mail-ins,” although the Board of Elections has said only provisionals remain.
He also indicated a Guardian lead of only about 200 votes, rather than the 347 that has been provided by the board.
“Are we confident we’re going to win and all of that?” he asked. “No, because in an election, anything can happen. But we’re not ready to actually say it’s over. Not yet. Not until everything’s tallied and done.”
Staff Writer Derek Harper contributed to this report.
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