CTNJ file photo

As soon as the polls closed on Tuesday, the party machines went into action in an effort to convince the news media that their side had won this year’s municipal elections.

The Republican Party claims it held onto the top office in 68 towns, lost 10 and picked up 12 for a net gain of two. Those numbers are based on preliminary results submitted to the Secretary of the State’s office.

Prior to Tuesday’s election the Republican Party tried to make it a referendum on Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, who wasn’t on the ballot. However, a spokesman for the Democratic Party, said the results show it was a local election about local issues.

“We’ve been saying from the beginning that this election will be decided on local issues, by local voters,” Leigh Appleby, a spokesman for the Connecticut Democratic Party, said.

He said the Republican Party’s attempt to make the election about Malloy “clearly failed.”

They can spin it however they want, Appleby said, but they lost Fairfield, which was their number one target. Fairfield, the home of General Electric, became the epicenter of dissatisfaction with the recent tax hike approved by the legislature and Malloy in June.

Appleby said Republicans also failed to pick up Derby, which is Romano’s hometown and the hometown of House Minority Leader Themis Klarides.

“They failed in both of those,” Appleby said, and added that Democrats won in Meriden and Rocky Hill, which two years ago went to Republicans. He also cited Brookfield and New Milford as big wins for the Democratic Party.

“The Connecticut Republican Party attempted to use this election as a referendum on statewide Democratic leaders,” Connecticut Democratic Party Executive Director Michael Mandell said in a memo Thursday. “That message was an abject failure. Towns from Fairfield to Old Lyme to Winsted showed that this issue was about local issues — and by and large, Democrats won. Make no mistake, this was a flat rejection of J.R. Romano’s messaging and tactics.”

Romano disputes that characterization and said the numbers are still on their side.

He said Republicans won in Southbury and they held onto the top spot in larger cities like New Britain and Bristol.

He also pointed to towns like South Windsor, where Republicans stood outside of polling places Tuesday holding signs that said: “Send Governor Malloy A Message, Vote Republican.”

Kevin McCann of South Windsor said that the Republicans gained a super majority on the Town Council on Tuesday. They elected 6 Republicans and 3 Democrats. At their first council meeting, the council will elect the mayor, who is typically the person who received the most votes.

Romano said Democrats can try and spin Tuesday’s results all they want, but voters still trust Republicans to run their communities.

Secretary of the state Denise Merrill said Friday that based on the results that have been reported to her office, 32.75 percent of voters turned out to vote Tuesday. The results vary by town and not all of the results have been submitted to her office.

The town with the highest voter turnout was Prospect, where 58.7 percent of registered voters cast ballots. The municipality with the lowest voter turnout was Sterling, where only 7.56 percent of registered voters cast ballots.

The only town that hasn’t reported preliminary results from Tuesday’s election is Hartford. According to the Secretary of the State’s office, the head moderator wants to recount one of the polling places because the number of ballots given out didn’t match the count on the machine. Poll workers found 14 ballots had not been counted by hand or by machine. The votes won’t change the outcome of that election.

Municipalities have 48 hours after the polls close to send their returns to the Secretary of the State’s office. Towns conducting a recanvass have until Nov. 10 to complete the recanvass and submit the results. There are recanvasses under way in Clinton and Derby.