After first recount, Chris Dorworth now trails Democratic challenger Mike Clelland by 140 votes; manual recount planned

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Sunday was an arduous day for all those involved in a mandatory recount of the results of the House District 29 race between one-time Speaker Designate Chris Dorworth and Democratic challenger Mike Clelland.

The recount began Sunday around 1 p.m. but will not conclude until some time on Monday as election workers must count thousands of ballots by hand because the race is still too close to call.

After a machine recount of the ballots, Clelland’s lead of 123 votes grew to 140 votes, but that margin is still so slim, a hand recount of the ballots must be conducted. In this manual recount, the Supervisor of Elections office will look at the ballots which the voter had not made a selection for any candidate, and those for which the machine read that the voter made a selection for both candidates.

A popular theory heading into the election — espoused by both Republican and Democratic strategists — was that a significant number of GOP voters might opt to skip the race entirely, turned off by the controversial Dorworth but also unwilling to support a Democrat, reports Jason Garcia of the Orlando Sentinel.

Still, Clelland is in the catbird seat.

“We are optimistic because we are ahead. But we remain cautious because it’s a slight lead and the system that is in place for good reason that is so the voters can be sure in the end that right person was elected,” said Clelland.

Dorworth’s campaign declined to comment about their chances in the recount.

Elections supervisor Mike Ertel promised a prompt resolution to the race.

“This, what we’re doing here today is not like the year 2000,” said Ertel. “This is not something that’s going to be litigated left and right. This is a very simple process, we’re checking just to make sure, because it was a very close election.”

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.