Bridgeport 2020 Politics: Mario, Marilyn, Maria And The Chameleon

Democratic Town Chair Mario Testa

Inaugural festivities for municipal offices will take place Dec. 2, 5:30 p.m. in City Council Chambers, 45 Lyon Terrace. See link to full precinct results ELECTIONVOTINGDISTRICT-11052019 – November 2019 Municipal Election (3).

And just when you thought you had relief from door knocks, phone calls, mail pieces and general malignant mugging from candidates here comes the Democratic primaries for town committee in March, followed by the April presidential preference primary and May endorsements for state legislative seats.

In the city that rarely disappoints for its screwball politics, something kooky will pass this way again.

Believe it or not, political operatives are already eyeing the March primaries for town committee, a 90-member body that selects a chairman, endorses candidates for public office and conducts party business. It’s what Town Chair Mario Testa calls the machine. Sometimes that rusty machine needs new oiling, depending on the state of affairs and the level of ardency against the establishment.

The Bridgeport DTC has 10 districts with 9 members each. Some districts will have primaries where the personalities want to even scores or kick out leadership. Other districts a tad more sanguine maintain the status quo to keep the peace.

Multiple slates can wage primaries, but here’s the thing: results are not slate takes all. Electors can choose from any 9 candidates which means friend and foe alike can be thrown together. It’s the voters way of diabolical revenge. Wouldn’t it be cool to force this demagogue with that cuckoo?

Once the dust settles, 90 members will pick party officers including a chairman. Will Testa seek another two years?

Bridgeport’s political “chameleon” Dennis Bradley with Marilyn Moore during a summer forum in the South End.

Then the respective town committee district members will endorse candidates for legislative seats in May based on the state election calendar for single-community representatives. Bridgeport has six State House members, Chris Rosario, Steve Stafstrom, Jack Hennessy, Charlie Stallworth, Antonio Felipe and Andre Baker, all of whom solely represent Bridgeport constituents. Based on recent history expect at least two of those incumbents to face primaries such as Stallworth and Felipe. In 2016, Maria Pereira, who will join the City Council in December, waged a close primary against Stallworth. Shante Hanks did the same two years later.

Charlie Stallworth
File image of State Rep. Stallworth, right.

For State Senate the process is a bit different because Marilyn Moore and Dennis Bradley represent multiple communities. Delegates are chosen, many of whom are town committee members, to endorse candidates. In 2018, Bradley defeated Aaron Turner for the vacated seat of Ed Gomes on his way to a general election win. Operatives anathema to the establishment will likely rally behind a primary opponent to challenge Bradley. But here’s the additional rub for Bradley, he ducked picking a side in the primary and general election for mayor. As one unhappy party leader noted “Bradley likes to play this chameleon game.”

Mayor Joe Ganim is strongest in the Bridgeport portion of the city that Bradley represents in the State Senate. This is a potential problem when you don’t pick a side: you get it from both ends. So look for Bradley, who also has mayoral ambitions, to have a primary.

In 2014, Moore defeated incumbent Anthony Musto in a primary. Two years later she dispatched former City Council President Tom McCarthy in a primary. In 2018 party leaders decided a primary would be futile, leave her alone.

Opportunists are examining a Moore primary. The notion, however, that Moore is vulnerable because of her mayoral run is premature. She ran strong against Ganim in the mayoral primary in the Bridgeport portion of her Senate district covering the North End, West Side and Black Rock. Lacking a ballot line she did not in the general election, except for Black Rock, but a write-in campaign is a different animal. That is not a test of her popularity with constituents she represents in the State Senate.

Some of this depends on Moore’s standing in Trumbull and Monroe, towns she also represents. She’s also well-regarded by party leadership in Hartford.



    1. I try my best.
      I REFUSE to vote for Joe Ganim , the endorsed candidates for the underticket and the endorsed City Council candidates in the 134th. I was told years ago by a current member of the City Council that the Democratic Town Committee *knows* that I don’t vote the party line/endorsed ticket. I haven’t a clue how people would find out how (and for whom) I vote

  1. Here’s a little advise on how to build a slate for DTC.
    1) Get candidates committed to winning not just running.
    2) Get candidates from across the district not just specific neighborhoods.
    3) Get candidates with diverse backgrounds and interests. Active in different schools, different churches, different district / citywide causes. Diversity, not common causes.
    4) Build coalitions Build alliances.
    5) Start yesterday. You are already late coming out of the gate. The current district DTC is already together. To add or subtract two or three members is no work. To build a slate where none existed takes work.
    6) Concentrate on your own district. Don’t worry about committing to a candidate for mayor or state senate / rep.
    7) Be prepared to have some members bought off with jobs or commissions or favors. It happens all of the time. That is why the more districts the merrier.

  2. A reelection campaign for Senator Marilyn Moore will be interesting in 2020.
    #1 will she want to run for another term?
    If yes, will there be a primary challenge?
    I do not think the Trumbull and Monroe Democrats would support a challenger. Senator Moore has delivered for our communities and she is the ONLY Democratic member of the state legislature serving us.
    Her seniority and committee positions are to our advantage and a newcomer will not have her clout to bring home the bacon. This is personal opinion only, There has been no discussion at the TDTC and 72 members will be elected in Trumbull in January and assume office in March.
    #2 who will her opposition candidate be?
    If there is a primary, it will be the choice of the Ganim/Testa machine. I do not think they will back another white male after the trouncing of Tom McC in 2016.
    If there is no primary, who will the Republicans run? I have no crystal ball and unlike 2018 there are a lot of now defeated Trumbull Republicans who might be interested in public office, especially one that includes a paycheck. HOWEVER, I would not be surprised to see a movement calling for a rematch of 2018 nominating my friend Richard Deecken (who lost his bid to return to Trumbuill’s P&Z), who outpolled Herbst town-wide and as a Bassick teacher is well known and liked in Bridgeport. Perhaps we’ll see the Democrats for Deecken lawn signs back up in Bridgeport??????????

    So, it may be a quiet spring or a season of interest and intrigue. Unfortunately, the State Senate race is small potatoes in 2020, all eyes will be on the prize…..POTUS.

    1. Which means more voters, and the R’s in Trumbull and Monroe will come out. So if Republicans put up a strong candidate, Well. But after throwing away the Governorship with Bob. The question is. Do they want it? 🙂 Still can’t get over that, Walter. LOL. 🙂

      Look him, slouching, all unkempt like, turns Democrat one month before he announces his candidacy. Way to go R’s. 🙂


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