With the top of the Democratic ticket treating him as a pariah over a sexual harassment scandal — a freeze-out that goes all the way up to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy — Greenwich Democrat Marc Abrams is suspending his General Assembly campaign in the 149th District.
UPDATE 2:30 p.m.
Abrams has released a statement explaining his decision. Details of an active lawsuit alleging Abrams of sexual harassment while a partner at hedge fund Titan Capital Group had led various high-ranking Democrats, including Gov. Dannell Malloy and Speaker of the House Brendan Sharkey to call on him to drop out. In an email to the press and supporters, Abrams said that while he was making the decision solely out of the interest of his family, his political career was not over.
“To all of you that have reached out in support, and I was awed by the number, I want to remind you that I’ve been working hard since my father abandoned me in my teens,” he said, “earned a great education and rose to build successful innovative businesses; so when I say look forward to returning to politics when it is the right thing for my family, I mean it.” (Read the full statement at the bottom of this page).
Abrams had refused calls from House Speaker Brendan Sharkey, D-Hamden on Thursday.
Disobeying the governor is a no-no, however.
“These are very serious allegations Mr. Abrams did the right thing suspending his campaign until such time as there’s a determination of these allegations,” Mark Bergman, a senior campaign adviser to Malloy, told Hearst Connecticut Media Friday. “Connecticut cannot — and will not — tolerate this type of alleged behavior.”
Several of Malloy’s top political advisers pressured local party leaders to pull the plug on Abrams’ candidacy Friday morning, including the governor’s chief of staff, Mark Ojakian, and longtime strategist Roy Occhiogrosso, a person with knowledge of the conversation told Hearst on the condition of anonymity.
The full court press culminated with a call from Malloy himself, during which the governor told local party officials that he would not be able to support Abrams and would be forced to publicly denounce his party’s candidate in the 149th District, which straddles Greenwich and Malloy’s home city of Stamford.
“I won’t acknowledge the governor’s private phone call,” Bergman said.
“Malloy did not contact Abrams directly, the former candidate said.”
Farricker echoed Bergman.
“I really don’t want to characterize my discussions with state party officials,” Farricker said. “I support Marc’s decision, and I’m only focused on winning seats for the Democrats in Greenwich.”
Sharkey, in a statement Friday to Hearst, expressed relief over Abrams’ withdrawal from the race.
“I welcome Marc’s decision to end his candidacy,” Sharkey said. “This is the right thing to do and is in the best interest of everyone involved.”
Abrams, 44, is one of the defendants in a 2010 lawsuit filed by two women, Cristina Culicea and Danielle Pecile, who were his employees when he worked at Manhattan-based Titan Capital, a hedge fund that he founded in 2001 with his brother, Russell. The litigation alleges that the Abrams brothers had a long history of sexual advances and abusive, misogynistic and threatening behavior toward the plaintiffs.
In an interview Thursday with Hearst, Abrams characterized the lawsuit as frivolous.
Democrats haven’t won a House seat in Greenwich since 1912.
Full statement from Abrams:
“Dear Friends and Supporters:
I decided to run because I want to genuinely give back to my community and help make our state a better, stronger Connecticut. My campaign always focused on issues and never repeated gossip or brought up past mistakes. Instead when the debate came, I focused on the issues, such as my plans to grow the economy by diversification and strategic investment. I also informed people about my opponent’s voting record on key votes such as beomg against gay marriage, the minimum wage increase, Connecticut’s health care exchange and her introduction of a voter suppression bill, as well as her missing so many key votes. No sooner than my campaign began to catch people’s attention did my opponents’ change the conversation to one that is beneath our community. As to the allegations I will not dignify them other than to say that I have been exonerated by the EEOC and the charges dismissed in federal court. There do remain some claims in the State Court which will also result in my exoneration. While we always knew this was going to be an uphill battle, we never foresaw this level of negative attack possible in our community. I was ready before and ready now to win this election based on the merits. But my first priority is to my family and although they understood these false allegations may be brought up, we never fathomed the level of viciousness. I cannot in good conscience be a part of my family being subjected to this onslaught, and I am therefore withdrawing from the race.
To all of you that have reached out in support, and I was awed by the number, I want to remind you that I’ve been working hard since my father abandoned me in my teens; earned a great education and rose to build successful innovative businesses; so when I say look forward to returning to politics when it is the right thing for my family, I mean it.