Seven candidates for mayor will appear on the November 3 general election ballot in this historic campaign cycle in which Joe Ganim seeks to cement redemption as the Democratic nominee, Mary-Jane Foster positions to stop him as a petitioning Democratic alternative and Enrique Torres offers a Republican voice outside the political establishment. Charlie Coviello, running on The New Movement Party line and petitioning challengers Tony Barr, Chris Taylor and David Daniels round out the field.
When voters enter precincts to receive paper ballots November 3, Joe Ganim will be on the top line, followed by Torres, the Working Families Party with no mayoral candidate comes next fielding two endorsed candidates for school board, Karen Jackson and Dennis Bradley who will also appear on the Democratic line. Coviello, on The New Movement Party, comes next, followed by petitioning candidates Barr, Taylor, Foster and Daniels.
Major party candidates, based on party results for governor and minor party challengers based on longevity existence come first on the ballot, followed by petitioning candidates in order of certification through signatures collected.
The last time Ganim’s name appeared on a general election ballot was 1999 when he secured 80 percent of the vote against Republican Joan Magnuson. It was the first time in city history that a mayor would be elected to a four-year term by virtue of city voters approving a charter referendum question in 1998 when Ganim was at the apex of his popularity.
It was around this time that federal investigators began moving in earnest to topple the popular mayor that led to his 2001 Halloween indictment and subsequent 2003 conviction on corruption charges. Ganim spent seven years in federal lockup, he toyed with running for mayor in 2011 after his release in 2010. Staying patient he saw an opening against incumbent Bill Finch and began his public rehabilitation in an East End church January 1, transforming his baggage into a second-chance credential that inspired voters leading to an improbable underdog comeback primary win he seeks to extend to the general election.
Foster, co-founder of the Bridgeport Bluefish and an executive at the University of Bridgeport, is now cast in the underdog role as a petitioning candidate with the backing of Finch and a portion of his political operation running as an alternative to voter trepidation about Ganim’s past. Foster is raising campaign cash from business community interests opposed to Ganim’s comeback. She’ll need a solid majority of Finch Democratic voters buoyed by unaffiliated voters who’ve not participated in large numbers in recent municipal elections.
Torres, a city councilor from Black Rock, has run for mayor twice before in 2003 and 2011. Life for citywide Republicans is a difficult slog from the era of 1971-1991 when 10 of those years were occupied by GOP mayors Nick Panuzio, Lenny Paoletta and Mary Moran. City demographics have changed dramatically. When Ganim defeated Moran in 1991 the Democratic registration over Republican was two and a half to one in an era unaffiliated voters leaned Republican. The disparity between Democrat and Republican is now 10 to 1.
Coviello, Barr, Taylor and Daniels with low name recognition and even less money are in a battle to place fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh.