Wow! What a difference a week makes!
The subject of my Greenwich Time column last Sunday, September 1, was Stephanie Paulmeno’s aborted candidacy for first selectman and the bizarre circumstances that forced her to step down as the Democratic challenger to first selectman Peter Tesei.
The week between Sunday August 25 and Sunday September 1 had been a rough one for Greenwich Democrats. Party leaders asked Paulmeno to step down as their endorsed candidate. At issue were statements about rape that Paulmeno had made two years earlier as reported in a Greenwich Time article.
Paulmeno denies ever making those statements, or even being interviewed for the article by Greenwich Time reporter Neil Vigdor. Greenwich Time stands by its reporting. Still, Paulmeno said she would step down, citing a “vile, no holds barred smear campaign.”
Paulmeno’s pain was palpable, as was that of party members. “We’re hurting because of what happened,” said party chairman Frank Farricker, saying this was “easily the worst moment of my tenure.”
Last Sunday, Greenwich Democrats were at a very low point.
My column, while acknowledging the pain everyone felt that week, nonetheless tried to strike a hopeful note.
“Yes, it’s been a painful week for Greenwich Democrats. But now it’s time to look forward,” I wrote in concluding the column. “The party has until Sept. 21 to endorse a replacement for Paulmeno. Farricker feels confident there will be a Democratic first selectman candidate well before that cut-off date. Greenwich Democrats are resilient. Hopefully by next Sunday’s kick-off picnic at the Greenwich Garden Education Center, they’ll be on the rebound.”
In coming to that conclusion, I was relying on Farricker’s optimism and my own belief in our Greenwich Democrats. But truth is, there still was no candidate going into today’s picnic. And Paulmeno, having said she would withdraw, had not yet submitted the paperwork that would officially take her off the ballot. It appeared she was prepared to stay on the ballot unless another candidate came forward.
It was a real cliff hanger.
At 2 p.m. this afternoon Beth Krumeich stepped up to the plate to lead the Democratic ticket into the November 5 election. “The people of Greenwich deserve a contested race,” she said.
Krumeich is an exceptionally strong candidate. An attorney, she is a Democratic State Central Committeewoman, former vice-chair of the Greenwich Democratic Town Committee and a current DTC member, a member of the Junior League, a former PTA president, and a former president of the Greenwich League of Women Voters.
A Greenwich resident for 30 years, she is married to Greenwich native Ed Krumeich, also an attorney, who served 14 years on the Board of Estimate and Taxation. Beth Krumeich knows this town and loves this town. She will run a strong and responsible issue-oriented campaign.
Her appearance as a first selectman candidate this afternoon brought renewed enthusiasm and energy to the ticket. And the party quickly came together with a sense of unity and purpose.
“Beth has my full support,” said Stephanie Paulmeno. “She is an outstanding candidate.”
Farricker thanked Paulmeno for having stepped up as a placeholder in the party’s time of need, and for her grace.
Selectman candidate Drew Marzullo thanked both Paulmeno and Krumeich for their courage. “Let’s unite,” said Marzullo, in concluding his speech.
“We walk away today united with a strong ticket,” said tax collector candidate Rick Novakowski.
“This is the Democratic ticket for November,” said Farricker presenting the ticket after the candidates had finished speaking. “United and Proud.”
And Greenwich Democrats, now united, have reason to be proud. Last Sunday, they were at a very low point, perhaps the lowest they’ve ever been in anyone’s memory. This afternoon, they’ve come together on a high note, on the rebound, with momentum gathering for November, just as I always believed they would.
It’s been an amazing week.