Is there a book in the Bridgeport Public Library to school City Librarian Scott Hughes in the craft of absentee ballots? Quick Scott, take that book out. On Wednesday stretched-thin workers in the Town Clerk’s Office mailed out roughly 850 absentee ballots. And, with less than three weeks until the August 12 Democratic primary, they’re just warming up. Powered by two State Senate and two State House races, the absentee ballot action is piling up led by the campaign of incumbent State Senator Andres Ayala who’s not taking anything for granted to hold off a challenge by Hughes.
More than 600 of the absentee ballots mailed, according to a list compiled by the Town Clerk’s Office, blanket the 23rd Senate District with the majority of the absentee voters Latino. Andres Ayala certainly knows his serial absentee ballot voters, and his campaign peeps are working it pretty good. The district covers about two thirds of the city and a portion of western Stratford. The Bridgeport piece covers the East Side areas, central portion of the city down to the South End. Housing units on Central Avenue, Palisade Avenue and Maplewood Avenue are loaded with folks who’ll receive an absentee ballot, according to the list.
Ayala campaign canvassers systemically ask voters if they need an absentee ballot. The voters fill out an application that is dropped off at the Town Clerk’s Office. The ballot is then mailed to the voter.
Ayala is not alone in the absentee ballot action. The two State House primaries in the city fall within his Senate District including the 128th State House where his cousin Christina Ayala faces a tough test to keep her seat against party-endorsed Chris Rosario, city Fire Commissioner Dennis Bradley and newcomer Teresa Davidson. All four candidates in the race have qualified for public campaign funds, so that means more than $100,000 will be expended to reach voters in one of the smallest and lowest-performing voter districts in the state, covering the East Side and Hollow neighborhoods. Rosario, the city’s blight chief, has the backing of Mayor Bill Finch’s political operation. Rosario has relentlessly door-knocked the district and will have a whole bunch absentee ballots in the bank come primary day.
Christina Ayala for years has been at political war with City Councilwoman Lydia Martinez, the city’s queen of absentee ballots. Guess who queenie is supporting. Yup, Rosario. Christina’s not without a campaign operation. Her father Tito has been through city political wars for decades. Christina’s mother is Democratic Registrar Sandi Ayala.
In the city’s East End, in the State House battle between Moses and the undertaker, the absentee ballot action is heating up as well. Party-endorsed Ernie Newton, the self-proclaimed Moses of his peeps, is being tested by Board of Education member Andre Baker who owns a funeral home in the neighborhood.
The absentee ballot action creates a fascinating political dynamic of added value. All the candidates are working absentee ballot voters, some more than others. Andres Ayala’s political operation is working the absentee voters hard. As a result, what State House candidates will benefit from his work? His cousin Christina in the 128th State House race? Or Rosario? Does Andres Ayala’s work in the 124th State House district benefit Newton or Baker? Andres Ayala’s political operatives pushing just their candidate or others?
Sometimes it comes down to the candidates doing direct follow-up with with absentee voters through door knocks, mail and phone calls. Don’t forget about me!
In Connecticut, it’s against the law to help a voter fill out an absentee ballot (unless it’s a close family member or medical professional) but they can be persuaded just like any other voter before they fill out the ballot. Sometimes that persuasion includes some naughty assistance to fill out the ballot. Be careful, boys and girls.
In the 22nd Senate District featuring incumbent Anthony Musto and Marilyn Moore, the absentee ballot action is hot in and around the streets of the P.T. Barnum housing project that also features a senior housing complex nearby. Finch’s political organization is helping Musto. The mayor’s peeps have worked that area hard for several years to secure absentee ballot votes. This could be problematic for the Moore campaign if she starts primary day hundreds of votes down as a result of absentee ballots. It places a premium on her winning a higher machine total. The senate district covers Trumbull and portions of Bridgeport and Monroe. The city piece includes the North End, West Side and Black Rock areas.