As votes continue to trickle in via mail-in ballots, the two candidates in Tuesday’s Democratic primary for the 22nd District in the State Senate are keeping their options open.

Unofficial results showed three-term incumbent Marilyn Moore of Bridgeport holding a lead of about 500 votes over Bridgeport City Councilman Marcus Brown. Brown had won the party’s endorsement over Moore in May, but Moore received enough delegates to qualify for a primary.

Wednesday morning, Brown campaign manager Tom Gaudett said the campaign was unlikely to make any decisions before Thursday, the deadline for absentee ballots to be counted. But win or lose, he said the Brown camp had run a strong race.

“Going up against a three-term incumbent who is coming off of almost becoming Bridgeport mayor, it was tough,” he said. “That kind of name recognition is something you just don’t have as a city councilman where you only represent one part of the city.”

The district includes all of Trumbull, most of western Bridgeport and a small portion of Monroe. Voting was close in all three communities, with Moore winning 175-172 in Monroe, and 1,164 to 1,116 in Trumbull, according to unofficials numbers provided by the towns. Bridgeport’s Election Day machine tally also favored Moore, 2,680 to 2,515

The race saw heavy use of mail-in balloting, although ballot distribution problems and last week’s tropical storm led Gov. Ned Lamont to issue an executive order directing that ballots postmarked by Tuesday be accepted until Thursday.

Absentee ballot counting was still ongoing, but Moore and Brown campaign officials agreed that those ballots had expanded Moore’s lead.

Reached by phone Wednesday afternoon, Moore was not quite ready to declare victory, but said she was confident the margin would hold up.

“I just heard from the governor, and he said he doesn’t think there’s that many more ballots out there,” Moore said. “With this kind of lead, and this few ballots still out, I kind of thought I would hear from (Brown), but maybe they just want to sweat me for a little bit. That’s OK, I’ve been doing this a long time.”

In her three previous runs for the seat, Moore has twice won a primary against a party-backed opponent. She defeated incumbent Sen. Anthony Musto of Trumbull is 2014 and Tom McCarthy of Bridgeport in 2016.

Asked why the party continued to run primary opponents against her, Moore said she was not sure.

“I don’t know, I think I’m a nice person,” she said. “It seems the party leaders and delegates never back me, but every time, the people do.”

deng@trumbulltimes.com