Tuesday night at Testo’s Restaurant Congressman Jim Himes announced that President Obama will visit Bridgeport Oct. 30 to campaign for Democratic candidates. The place went wild.
For Democratic Town Chair Mario Testa, Himes’ presidential declaration was gravy on a night Mario served 400 dinners at a party fundraiser and political rally. The restaurant was a jammin’ love fest of enthusiasm, rather real or just to keep up appearances. Even State Rep. Chris Caruso who supported Dan Malloy for governor while Mario supported Ned Lamont in the primary, set foot in Mario’s restaurant, something he hadn’t done in 15 years, as a show of party unity. Mario and The Big Wave haven’t exactly been buds through the decades. Caruso visiting Mario’s restaurant is the stuff of political blackmail photos. Even Mayor Bill Finch and Caruso, never buds either and possible mayoral opponents in 2011, shared the stage to promote Democratic unity.
Ah, yes, everything is all peaches and cream, milk and honey, baby! (Well, at least for one night.) Bridgeport’s voter turnout is key to the reelection of a bunch of Democratic candidates.
Every now and then Mario does something to reiterate his relevance as a Democratic player in Connecticut. Tuesday was one of those nights. In parts of the restaurant a shoehorn was required to make room for everyone. Mario’s restaurant is once again the epicenter of city politics. It’s where money is raised, deals are cut, candidates pay respect, and make no mistake, Mario is one of those throwback pols who loves respect. Mario likes to keep score too. If you don’t show, he’ll remember.
The turnout at Mario’s restaurant was equal to the actual money raised. At $35 per ticket the night took in close to $15,000. Just about every key candidate, statewide or regional took turns addressing the gathering of party insiders, contractors and access seekers. It was the place to be seen. And Mario ate up every second of it. To Mario’s way of thinking, what’s the sense of being in politics if you’re not relevant. Mario made sure of that Tuesday night.
(Check out my daily webzine www.onlyinbridgeport.com)