Callahan To Torres: Healthy Doses Of Passion And Humor

Veteran political reporter Jim Callahan files his perspective on Republican candidate for mayor Rick Torres’ chances in November.


A Bridgeport Republican mayoral candidate these days has got to be claustrophobic and lonely. So many Democrats. So few Republicans.


The person has got to feel like Jimmy Cagney running through that oil refinery trying to get away from the cops. Pulls out the gat. Fires wildly. Climbs the catwalk onto the gasoline tank.

“Top of the world, Ma!”

Turns gun to tank. Fires.


Yo, that’s the good news: That’s the end of the movie.

Republican Rick Torres has got to campaign the next month as enthusiastically as he can, raising the issues of the community as best he can. He has to be passionate to show he cares, yet not lose his sense of humor and balance because a lot of people are not listening to him. Something could happen. If you don’t put a good face on it nothing will happen. From his press releases Torres is giving it a shot, and not a gunshot into a gasoline tank.

The following is a list of challenges. For sanity’s sake, Torres should ignore them all. They are irrelevant. He is the Republican nominee. He has chosen to accept this challenge. But it is fair to list them to see what needs to be overcome not only in this election but for future planning by Bridgeport Republicans.

* Democrats outnumber Republicans 10 to one, or 40,000 to 4,000. Let’s take that 40,000 down to 20,000. The missing Democrats were registered for other elections and do not care about this one. That makes it five to one. Big wup. A few of those 4,000 Republicans were registered for other elections too. Cut that in half. We’re back to 10 to one. A voter bloc favoring Republicans is unaffiliated voters. Likely unaffiliated voters do tend Republican, or at least a little more than even, in local elections. I don’t have any recent information on voting patterns and that is critical because they are independent. For no good reason other than argument’s sake, let’s throw the balance back to five to one again in favor of Democrats. Big wup.

* Republicans are always at a disadvantage in Bridgeport. True. But when their registration was up to 10,000 and more it made Bridgeport one of the largest Republican communities in Connecticut. This mattered because state-wide Republicans wanted those 10,000. They would help out the locals. Today? Not so much. The Republicans skipped Bridgeport last year when running in the Fourth Congressional District.

* Money, money, money. In one sense a lower registration means you have less a Republican organization to cater too. You can set your own agenda without committee people annoying you. But then you have to find your own volunteers and paid staff to run the show. Staff who understand the critter that is Bridgeport. Costs a ton. Can be done. But not everyone is New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg with his personal billions operating in the headquarters of mass media in the United States.

* National mood. Right now, New England Republicans, including Connecticut Republicans, are in decline. The national party is somewhat distant from regional interests. When Republican candidates for mayor won in recent times, there were Republican presidents: Nick Panuzio/Richard Nixon; Len Paoletta/Ronald Reagan; Mary Moran/George H.W. Bush. State Republicans were stronger during those times as well. Sure, local conditions set the tone, but again, outside help was nice.

* Dissension. Bridgeport Republicans are the protest party to Bridgeport Democrats. They do not win on the exclusive merit of being Republican. They need to be an alternative to the status quo. One way to judge the fever of Bridgeport voters is by observing Democratic dissension–and seizing it if you are Republican. Mayor Bill Finch eliminated challenger Mary-Jane Foster nicely in their primary. The mayor’s organization had to work, but did what it had to do. The mayor won with more votes than are registered Republican.

* Issues. Attached to all of the above. If the issues exist, the money and organization follow if the Republican candidate can articulate issues, and people are listening. There are issues, there are always issues in a community as stressed economically and socially as Bridgeport. Mayor Bill Finch has convinced voters he has managed these issues, judging from the results in his primary. The Republican can only restate those issues, perhaps come up with a few of his own, using his own reasoning and hope they catch fire.

This could end with a wisecrack about gunshots, gasoline tanks, lightning strikes …



  1. Remember, Fabrizi beat Torres 8 years ago by approx 15,000 to 12,000. Four years ago Finch won by approx 9,000 to 2,000. So Rick Torres has the ability to get about 12,000 voters to the polls. This might be a closer race than Jim Callahan has just analyzed. And sensible people would certainly hope so.

    1. You’re way off, buddy. Fabs got 11,000 votes to Torres 8,000 and this time around he will not even come close to getting that amount. I bet he will not even get half of the 8 thousand votes this time around.

  2. What do you think the chances are the entire MJF team and all those who voted for her in the primary will announce they support Rick Torres and will work to get him elected in the general election? Not likely but well worth the pipe dream.


    1. Campaigns should be a labor of love anyway. They probably got what was available funding wise, with the hopes they were working more for the cause than just to flip a quick buck. If there are rumors being spread to that effect, then those who were working at the polls were doing it for all the wrong reasons, and should not bother again.

  3. Grin:
    I would not go as far as your condensed version. Although, Lord knows, maybe that is how I came off.

    If it were as bad as you helped to condense it, no one would ever run for public office if they were behind. You gotta have a dream. And I know, now I come off as a mush. So I’m either a cold-hearted bastard or a liberal mush. Great.

    Let me take another crack at this: Things have to line up for a Bridgeport Republican. Elements are there. Bob’s comments above are worth considering.

    The conventional wisdom says Bridgeport Republicans should never win. But they have won. You see a “two to one” or “ten to one” number of Democrats and Republicans and automatically think it is impossible for Republicans to win in Bridgeport. Yet it is not so.

    A large segment of Democratic Party voters are really independent voters or lean independent. If Republicans can woo them they MAY get them.

    The “ifs” are the problem. Torres faces a lot of ifs.

    Don’t assume the other side will be napping either. That would be a wonderful “if” for Republicans. But today the mayor released another bond rating report saying everything is just peachy.

    That’s a Republican issue. A lot of people maintain the city finances are not peachy. Torres has to blow up the administration position with voters. That’s another “if.”

    At all times, in this political environment, Democrats want to keep the voters asleep. They oughta see if they can borrow that Michael Jackson doctor for a few weeks.

    1. So, you will help perpetuate the current revolting reality? It’s this type of attitude the Finchies are counting on, donj, and you are playing right into their calamarian tentacles. They are waiting for you with pudding-face grins singing “Welcome to the Machine.” You may as well head up to Testo’s and secure your after-college job with Mario over a nice bowl of cavatelli and some broccoli rabe with sausage. THIS IS WHAT THEY ARE LOOKING FOR AND COUNTING ON. Mario and Finch just high-fived after they read your post. Nice.

    2. donj, once again YOU ripped the machine and Finch and now you fall in line behind Mario and do his bidding. SHAME ON YOU!

      Rick is not a Tea Party member. Do you recollect a few years back when he backed Caruso and got people to switch parties to vote in the primary?


  4. I would have given him a chance if he were not a part of the Tea Party movement. When George Bush crushed our economy where was he to tell him stop spending money? Black Rock won’t event vote for this guy come the second.

    1. The difference between the Men and the Boys, donj, is knowing when to shift perspective for the greater good. Don’t be a PARTY enthusiast. Be a democracy enthusiast. Be a justice enthusiast. Be a transparency enthusiast. Being affiliated with a party should just provide guidelines and a right to vote in the primary. Remember, with Finch, it’s not personal, it’s Testa.

    2. Obama has destroyed the economy. Look at that, donj. $535 million to a company that went bankrupt 5 minutes after he gave them the money. The Feds couldn’t even properly vet the solar power company, but Obama demanded the bailout.

      BTW here’s a question:
      How long are we going to let our government and present administration not be on the hook for the economy? It’s been 3 YEARS and the only thing Obama, Himes and the rest of our government have done is driven us deeper in debt. When do they get the blame?

    3. I thought it was all the bad mortgages and the ACORNs of the country that crushed the economy. Stuff the administration and John McCain worried about but were stopped by the Democratic majority from fixing …

      1. Try Chris Dodd and Barney Frank on the bad mortgages. And Dodd himself got a sweetheart deal from AIG …
        They say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Don’t forget Thomas Dodd (Chris’ father) was censured by Congress for less of a transgression than that which his son got away with.

  5. donj,
    There is a movement of Americans who feel the government has gone too far in certain directions and wish to put a stop to those excesses. On a national level that movement has taken or earned the Tea Party name.

    Where has Rick identified himself with that movement or title? Is there anything about the TPM that looks like it might be targeted at something that needs a change from your perspective? I think you have found things about Mayor Finch that need reform or change, right?
    I am not and never have been a party person, though I have joined one party or another to support a candidate who expressed a fair degree of congruence with the values I hold dear and their positions on issues I have studied.

    Rick is a family man, a man of diverse talents who can wear a blue, tan or white collar as an event calls for. He is conservative in the use of his private funds and would be so with government expenditures also, I believe. That is different from Mayor Finch’s behavior with public money.

    Why don’t you ask Rick what his position is on City Budgets? I believe he will be for OATs. Remember, Open, Accountable, Transparent. It is not where we are and not where Finch is telling us he will take us in a second term. What is it about Finch that is good enough to vote for him instead of Rick? Or put another way, what is factually so disturbing about Rick and how he would presumably govern Bridgeport that Mayor Finch looks appealing? As a business person Rick’s experience, providing services to people and operating profitably, should be a breath of fresh air in City operations.
    And why would you not vote for Jeff Kohut if you are against Torres irrevocably and if your concerns about Finch, as repeated often by you, are significant? Finch has not changed since primary day.

  6. Hey, it’s about choosing the lesser of two evils and that is Finch. The Republican party does not have anything to offer people like me. I voted for Foster, the rest of Bridgeport did not. I am not going to whine about it and say oh let’s vote for Torres, are you nuts???

    1. There you go again, sounding like a College Political Science textbook. It’s not about the party … for the love of God. It’s not the National GOP guideline book (if there were one) that would be running this city. How old are you? And for the record, I am going to try my best to not vote for Rick. But I am sure as hell not voting for Finch.

  7. Hey Beacon where is Torres on issues such as welfare etc. I heard him in a video once saying people should work and so on but there are people who are in need of help and need these funds. The Republicans are a rich man’s party and and I sure as hell will not cast my vote for him. I have no problem casting a vote for a moderate Republican but not a right wing nut!!! The thought Foster supporters will support this guy is laughable. The majority of Foster supporters will either vote Finch or stay home and a small few will vote for Torres.

  8. And to be honest there is a 50% chance I might just stay home and not vote. I do not like any of these candidates so I might stay home. None of them appeal to me. If I do vote I will chose the lesser of the two evils which is Bill Finch. Anybody but Torres. Why couldn’t they run Russo as a candidate, he would have my vote.

  9. And again Beacon I stated before there is a big possibility if I vote I would vote for Jeff. I actually like his ideas but I sure as hell do not like Torres.

  10. donj,
    Your comments have put you into dialogue with other posters on this topic. Seven of the twenty entries. Essentially you are not going to vote for Rick! And you don’t know who you will vote for at this moment. If you need more info on Rick, go to his site or call him up, I am sure he will be happy to outline his positions for you. By the way, what are the issues other than “welfare” that shape your ideal candidate? My purpose for the last year is any candidate who drills into our City finances and is willing to be OPEN, ACCOUNTABLE and TRANSPARENT with the process and governance, for starters, is worth listening to. I have shared whatever I have discovered, facts as well as further questions, with all parties, including incumbent Council persons. The goal is to hold candlelight to the dark ignorance, perpetuated and encouraged by Bridgeport’s governance rules, and by the way the current machine has used their opportunity to stretch observing that structure beyond recognition of governance with integrity. They will not go until people WAKE UP and decide they have had enough.

    When the fiscal crash comes, assuming you are a property owner, you are going to be upset about the higher taxes, aren’t you? And if you vote for “the secrecy Mayor” who keeps the data hidden from curious eyes, and who fails to dialogue on serious financial issues or tells intentional half truths, and whose administration has ignored and gutted protections in fiscal staffing and financial disclosure while pronouncing himself open and transparent, you are responsible for your own upset.

    I really don’t care at this moment what you do with your vote. It’s your business. I know for one thing, other than a single posting if that is necessary, more info about your decision ends up as TOO MUCH INFO.

    Were you to attempt to WAKE UP other voters, that would be good in my eyes. Were you to share what you are FED UP with in the Finch governance processes, I am interested. Ideas on how the rest of us will deal with the chaos when it comes in terms of necessary choices at that time about what must be paid and what must be cut, I am also seeking. So let’s see if you can PUT UP for the good of the City or … UP. Obviously your choice. Time will tell.


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