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Seguin squeaks past Candaras in Probate race

Date: 11/7/2014

GREATER SPRINGFIELD – Suzanne Seguin admitted there had been some sleepless nights leading up to Nov. 4, but none were longer than the Election Night as Seguin and supporters anxiously awaited polling numbers that crawled in at a painfully slow rate in an extremely tight race for Hampden County Register of Probate.

Seguin, who has been acting as the interim head of the Probate Department since Thomas Moriarty resigned mid-term in 2012, finally declared victory over state Sen. Gale Candaras with a slim 50-vote lead and 99 percent of precincts reporting and Hampden and Brimfield still outstanding at 1:04 a.m. on Nov. 5.

“I didn’t win tonight; the people of Hampden County won,” Seguin told a group of approximately 20 supporters that remained at Nathan Bill’s Bar and Restaurant in Springfield through the early hours of the morning.

 Candaras told Reminder Publications after Seguin’s announcement that she did not have any intention to concede before all precincts were in, citing the slim margin and “roller coaster” nature of the results throughout the evening.

“We’re talking about 50 votes. One-hundred and twenty thousand people voted and we are 50 votes apart,” Candaras said at the time. “[Suzanne] is certainly welcome to [declare victory] if that’s what she’s doing and tomorrow morning we will wait for all of the precincts to be counted and we will decide what our options should be after that.”

Later in the morning, Seguin, an independent, was found to be the winner by 278 votes, topping her opponent, an entrenched and well-respected Democratic politician, by a count of 62,500 to 62,222.

Seguin indicated she fully anticipated a recount, which she said might be mandatory given the slim margin of victory, however, Candaras' campaign  announced she would not pursue a recount on Nov. 6.

On Nov. 5, Candaras said she was seriously considering the option of a recount. She told Reminder Publications that morning when she was only down 50 votes, her campaign advisers were insisting on a recount, but with the margin widening with the final results, she was still mulling her options.

“I am still within the right to call for a recount,” Candaras said. “We are going to have a debriefing with my campaign team and decide what the best course of action would be.”

Seguin, who touted herself during her campaign as an experienced worker within the Hampden County Hall of Justice and not a politician, praised the effort of her team, who managed to sway voters with a modest budget in comparison to Candaras’.

“It was a grassroots campaign. I wasn’t surrounded by politicians; I was surrounded by regular people like you and me,” Seguin said.

Seguin supporter Kathleen Murphy, who Seguin credited with engaging senior voters critical to the victory, called the win a coup for Hampden County politics.

“This was a grassroots campaign with an unknown woman up against a Bostonian politician and she pulled it off,” Murphy said. “The voters of Hampden County aren’t smart, they’re brilliant, and they went for the qualified person who will continue to do good work for them.”

Seguin said she was looking forward to continuing the work she had already been doing in the Probate Office and added the continuity would be an advantage for her staff and the county.

“The transition is seamless. There will be no interruption in the work environment,” she said.