TAMPA — Hillsborough election officials expect to conduct a recount Saturday for the judicial race between incumbent Circuit Judge Kevin Carey and challenger Catherine Catlin.
Catlin topped Carey by 209 votes, a 0.34 percent advantage in a race with 61,495 total votes.
That margin of victory was not wide enough for Catlin to claim a win. An automatic machine recount is ordered if a candidate wins by less than 0.5 percent.
"Let's cede that Judge Carey and I are keeping it interesting until the end," Catlin joked.
County Judge James Dominguez, chairman of Hillsborough County's canvassing board, said results of the election will be delivered to state election officials by noon Friday.
The state canvassing board will meet Friday evening, and Dominguez said he expects it will order a recount then.
The state, not the local canvassing board, must call for the recount because circuit judges are state officials who qualify to run in Tallahassee, he said.
"We know we're going to have to do it because it's less than half of 1 percent," Dominguez said. "We're waiting for the state to say, yes, we have to do it."
A losing candidate has the right to refuse a machine recount or stop the process at any point, said Florida Department of State spokeswoman Jennifer Davis.
But Carey, who was first elected in 2002, said he would not cede until the recount occurs.
"I was disappointed (by the results), but I'm just going to let the process play out to the mandatory recount and see what happens at that point," he said Wednesday. "I certainly would honor the results of that recount."
Catlin, too, was anxious for the final tally. She has practiced in front of Carey and criticized his performance on the bench during the campaign.
But she understood his desire to wait out the recount.
"I can't blame him," she said. "It's so close."
Colleen Jenkins can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 226-3337.