Republican State Sen. Andrew Roraback took an early lead as primary results began to add up Tuesday night, ahead of his closest opponent, Mark Greenberg, by 1,382 votes with only a few towns left to report.
The other challengers for the nomination, Justin Bernier and Lisa Wilson-Foley, were 3,258 and 3,023 votes behind Roraback, respectively.
Roraback ended the night with 34 percent of Republicans supporting him statewide, followed by Mark Greenberg (28 percent), Lisa Wilson-Foley (19 percent) and Justin Bernier (19 percent).
Middlebury followed the state's pattern of voting:
Fifth District - Republicans
Andrew Roraback: 261
Mark Greenberg: 239
Lisa Wilson-Foley: 243
Justin Bernier: 77
Blank Ballots: 19
In Woodbury, Greenberg received the most votes.
Fifth District - Republicans
Mark Greenberg: 439
Andrew Roraback: 190
Justin Bernier: 136
Lisa Wilson-Foley: 95
Blank Ballots: 13
Roraback’s longtime best friend and fellow former State Rep. Brian Mattiello (Torrington, 1993-2001) read out the results as they came in to campaign party headquarters, Backstage Restaurant in Torrington.
As the numbers were slowly tallied Tuesday evening, Roraback won a majority of the towns, many by safe margins, though Greenberg was consistently close behind. Many of the areas where Greenberg was expected to aggressively challenge Roraback, Wilson-Foley was taking away some of the momentum, Mattiello noted.
“Greenberg and Lisa Wilson-Foley are eating each other up,” he said, watching the numbers.
“Sometimes your strategy is just to mitigate some of the loss,” Mattiello added as a few losses trickled in. “When they get to know Drew like we know him, they’ll learn to love him like we do, too.”
Speaking to a packed room Tuesday night, Roraback thanked everyone that participated in the campaign but warned them that the hard work was not over yet.
“The biggest reward for work well done is the opportunity to do more work,” he said during his victory speech [see attached video for more]. “This campaign doesn’t end tonight, this campaign begins tonight.”
“The president’s policies are not serving this nation well,” Roraback said during a brief interview after the speech, asking for his now former opponents’ help as he moves on toward the general election in November.
During his concession speech, Greenberg also thanked his supporters and said that they “might have fallen short in the vote, but we never fell short of our principles,” campaign manager Chris Cooper said Tuesday night. “I don’t believe he would have run his campaign any differently.”
Bernier campaign spokesman Joseph Ahearn said late Tuesday that his candidate conceded to a warm crowd earlier that night.
“We were in a four-way race with two self-funders — that in itself was an uphill battle,” Ahearn said, adding that it was a well-fought battle that the campaign was proud of.
Representatives from Wilson-Foley’s campaign were not immediately available.