For Fossel, recount in close Senate race familiar territory

Among the 14 losing candidates requesting vote recounts following close election contests last week is a state representative who’s been through a contentious recount before.

Republican Les Fossel of Alna is requesting a recount of the votes in his Senate District 20 race against incumbent Democratic Sen. Chris Johnson of Somerville after coming out of last Tuesday’s election trailing Johnson by 134 votes out of 21,626 cast, according to the secretary of state’s office.

For Fossel, who’s finishing a term as state representative, a recount in a close state Senate race is familiar territory.

A decade ago, he asked for a recount following his Senate race against Democrat Chris Hall. Partisan control of the Senate ultimately hinged on the outcome of the matchup.

The recount ended with a nine-vote lead for Hall, but it didn’t settle 44 disputed ballots and four other ballots that were challenged on Election Day. After a few unsuccessful attempts in court to keep the Secretary of State from submitting vote totals to then-Gov. Angus King for his certification, Fossel appealed to the state Supreme Court to keep King from certifying the election results. The court declined to issue a stay, leaving the decision on which candidate to seat to the Senate.

Hall ultimately prevailed.

“Though I didn’t want to go through another [recount], you all worked too hard for me to stop now,” Fossel wrote on his Facebook page Thursday morning in a message to supporters. “Moreover, in a race this close I think it’s important that we make sure every single vote was counted accurately to get the best result.”

The recount is set for 9 a.m. Tuesday. Fossel is one of two losing Senate candidates to request a recount. Democrat Colleen Quint, who’s trailing Republican Sen. Garrett Mason in District 17, is the other.

Correction: This blog entry has been corrected to point out Hall, the former senator, is not  Chris Hall from the Portland Regional Chamber.