HELENA – In a surprising turnaround, Republican state superintendent of public instruction candidate Sandy Welch on Tuesday abandoned her effort for a recount of the votes in her narrow Nov. 6 defeat by Democratic incumbent Denise Juneau.

Welch, who just four days ago secured a judge’s order for the recount, said she decided to back out because she hadn’t raised enough money to pay for the statewide hand recounting of some 468,000 ballots.

“We had a number of pledges, but we didn’t have the cash in the bank when it came time to post the bond,” she said.

District Judge Stewart Stadler had given Welch until 5 p.m. Tuesday to post a $115,000 bond.

Under state law, the state pays for a recount if the margin between the two candidates is less than 0.25 percent of the total vote. But if the margin is between 0.25 percent and 0.5 percent, the candidate asking for the recount must post a bond for the cost and pay those costs if he or she doesn’t win.

The official vote count has Juneau winning by 2,231 votes, or 0.48 percent of the more than 468,500 votes cast.

Juneau, who won a second four-year term as the state’s top public school official, said Welch called her Tuesday to concede the race.

Juneau said she’s pleased that the race is finally over, and that she’s looking forward to preparing and presenting her education agenda for the 2013 Legislature to consider.

Secretary of State Linda McCulloch, the state’s chief election officer, said Tuesday she’s disappointed the recount has been called off. Counties and state officials stood ready to do the recount and were looking forward to showing that vote-counting on Nov. 6 was accurate, she said.

In documents filed with the court, Welch alleged widespread problems with vote counting on Nov. 6, including ballots that jammed in vote-counting machines and may have been miscounted, ballots that may have had their votes assigned to the wrong candidate and ballots that weren’t properly certified.

Welch said she hopes that state and local election officials will work to correct problems that she and others uncovered as they prepared for a possible recount.

Welch also thanked her supporters and the many people she met and spoke with during the campaign.

“It’s really been a fabulous experience to know there are so many people working for our kids,” she said.

Missoulian State Bureau reporter Mike Dennison can be reached at 1-800-525-4920 or at mike.dennison@lee.net.

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(9) comments

Alan Johnson
Alan Johnson

Obviously her money didn't come through because she was just barely eligible for a recount. With a .48 spread, the odds of reversing an election in a recount are too great. The GOP might want to do it on principle, but paying for a recount that was very unlikely to change the result is money poorly spent and I think the Republican Party saw that. Credit her with a good campaign though. It's very hard to beat an incumbent in the state-wide races below Attorney General. She came pretty close.

random_rez_kid
random_rez_kid

Dub, you need to just cool it with that stuff until you can present some proof that Denise only looks out for Native kids. But you never do (with anything you say) because you can't.

saltine
saltine

Dub... repub flub.

walter12
walter12

The Dems put the pressure on her. God knows what they have been saying to her. Only Obama lovers are allowed in the Montana school system.

MontanaJim72
MontanaJim72

Once the Republican party realized she never had a chance in a recount, they dropped her like a dead fly. She has cooked her political future anyway. I was neutral until she started her obvious tea party ads. She lost me after that. You might get away with it in the Flathead valley, they are ultra conservative. You never got away with it in the state of Montana.

MiddleFinger
MiddleFinger

Thank goodness! Welch is such an embarrassment to the office of Supt.

I bet she's happy now with her close loss because a recount would have just increased Juneau's lead.

Her behavior following the election demonstrated exactly why she was not voted into office. Imagine Sandy acting immature in front of students.

Lead by example Ms. Welch, and then you might win an office. But don't play politics with education. That's so tacky. You will only lose what little respect your potential employees and stewards have for you. And then you will have to use an iron fist to get your way just like other dictators.

MTnative92
MTnative92

GOOD!

montanamuralist
montanamuralist

I bet it will be the "dems and liberals" fault she had to drop her recount request. Unfortunately for conservatives, they are the ones in power in the Legislature and voted for these rules so blame them please! I know you won't cause that would be to close to actually dealing with facts but to bad she could not raise the money. I would not have minded seeing her get beat twice.

Dub
Dub

Too bad, Sandy would look out for ALL the children of the state--not just a few.

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