Will former Mayor Joe Ganim try to reclaim the job he had from November 1991 to April 2003? When I talk to city political operatives they say there’s a pretty good buzz out there for Joe.
And then there’s former State Senator Ernie Newton, the Moses of his peeps, who’s back in the political action exalting his comeback. For Ernie it’s not a question if he’ll run for something but for what office. There’s two options for Ernie, run for mayor this year or sit it out and next year try to reclaim his former State Senate seat occupied by Ed Gomes. That may depend on what Joe does. If he runs for mayor Ernie is likely to support him.
Joe and Ernie spent some time together in the joint and appears they’re both on a mission of redemption. No doubt both bring baggage. But no doubt in some neighborhoods they’re still popular. They were feeling the love from voters on the day of last week’s special election campaigning for victorious Charlie Stallworth, who replaced Chris Caruso in the state legislature, at Wilbur Cross School.
Will Joe run? If he gets family clearance my guess is he runs. Joe always thought of Bill Finch as a lightweight and most Democratic voters feel the city’s headed in the wrong direction. That doesn’t mean Finch cannot win reelection. He’ll be well financed to make his case. A lot depends on how the next few months play out. The larger question for Ganim: does the nostalgia for Joe outweigh the baggage? Also, how will Joe address the past? He has carved out a strategy that he did nothing wrong and is likely not to move far from that mantra. Voters will want to hear some contrition, something like I made some bad decisions but they didn’t rise to the level of what I was accused. If Joe can negotiate that he’ll contrast how he governed versus how Finch has governed and who voters prefer. Sure, Finch will drum up the past, but Joe, a stronger politician than Finch, will contrast his years of balanced budgets, tax cuts, and development record against Finch.
Finch’s battle cry for more than three years has been “Together we are making Bridgeport the cleanest, greenest, safest, most affordable city with schools and neighborhoods that improve each year.” Really? Now that is some declaration from the 2007 mayoral candidate who promised a $600 tax cut knowing full well he could not deliver it. Finch attached himself to a government slogan without a government track record of success. So, tell me do ya think the city under Finch is cleaner? Safe? Affordable? Schools and neighborhoods improved?
Now, hold on one minute. Two others potential challengers, one an announced candidate and the other in the exploratory stage, can provide alternative messages to Finch and Ganim.” We know what we had in the past and we know what we have now.” Most electors tend to vote on the future. How will you make my future better? John Gomes, who had served as Finch’s deputy chief administrative officer and Mary-Jane Foster, co-founder of the Bridgeport Bluefish and an executive at the University of Bridgeport, will work in earnest to capture the voter sentiment that wants to turn the page from the Ganim past and Finch present. But to capture voter interest they must have enough money to make their case.
So, what will Joe do if he runs? Run in a Democratic primary or take his case straight to a general election as an independent? Stay tuned.