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Debicella, Foolish To Ignore Bridgeport

October 17th, 2010 · 37 Comments · Analysis and Comment, City Politics, Development and Zoning, State Politics

Dan Debicella

Dan Debicella has strong Bridgeport roots. Does anyone know?

Two weeks left. Connecticut races are gripping political media junkies across the country: McMahon versus Blumenthal, Foley versus Malloy, Debicella versus Himes. All appear to be single-digit races.

Congressman Jim Himes potentially received a mojo boost last week when he learned his efforts to woo Transportation Secretary Ray Lahood on a Bridgeport bucks bonanza paid off. Lahood freed $11 million for the redevelopment of SteelPointe Harbor, now 30 years in the making. Yes, Republican Mayor Lenny Paoletta in the early 1980s identified the 50-plus acres as a redevelopment area.

Himes, a freshman lawmaker, is locked in a tight fight with Republican Dan Debicella. Interestingly Debicella has a story to tell about his connection to Bridgeport but he’s not taking advantage. Debicella was born in Bridgeport, his dad was a city cop.

Well-funded Republican candidates make the mistake of writing off Bridgeport voters when they can increase performance, especially in this cranky economic environment. Bridgeport has 20,000 unaffiliated voters and several neighborhoods of economically conservative electors: paging Black Rock, Central, Blackham, Winthrop and Hooker voting precincts. These areas are prime for GOP candidates in this environment, especially in what appears to be a low-turnout general election. Republican Rob Russo won the Winthrop and Hooker precincts against Democrat Tom Mulligan in a low turnout State Senate special election in March 2008. Russo got croaked by Democrat Anthony Musto eight months later in a general election, victimized by Barack’s 50-year electoral storm that produced thousands of new voters in Bridgeport that aided Himes’ victory over Chris Shays.

Two years later is a much different story. But I see no organized evidence of Debicella working those swing Bridgeport voters. If I’m Debicella, I’d be running a targeted Bridgeport campaign with mail pieces and phone calls connecting with city voters: “I was born here, my dad was a police officer here, I’ll not forget what the city has meant to me and my family. Hardworking families in Bridgeport lose out because the federal government spends money in all the wrong areas. We need sanity back in Washington.”

It’s a message that will play with some voters.

Debicella’s raised plenty of dough to make his case throughout the district including the city that put food on the table for his family. Myopic Republican campaign handlers who don’t understand Bridgeport make the mistake of writing it off. Oh, we’re not going to win Bridgeport, why bother. And some of them will say oh we can’t pay attention to Bridgeport, will that piss off the suburbs? Horseshit.

For Debicella, winning in Bridgeport isn’t about getting more votes than the opponent, it’s about staying as close as possible. Jim Himes isn’t going to win the suburban vote in Connecticut’s 4th Congressional District. He’s trying to stay close while running up urban numbers.

If Debicella fails to defeat Himes it could be because he left city votes on the table.

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37 Comments so far ↓

  • donj

    This was one hell of a good read. I must say I’ve been thinking the same thing. I have seen no presence of the Debicella campaign in the city. Those precincts you mention can be cranky but they will vote Democrat. For 2008 they looked like they did not have any type of conservatives left. Peep these numbers Black Rock Obama 1,567 and McCain only 702. Blackham Obama 2,729 and McCain only 951 they voted solid Democrat. Debicella needs to work hard in those precincts and make sure he can at least run 40% in those 3 precincts because if not it is going to be a great night for Himes!!! Was going to vote absentee but screw it I’m gonna vote in person at Black Rock and my vote goes to Malloy, Blumie, Himes, Musto, Auden, and the rest of the Dem ticket.

  • donj

    On election day look out for Black Rock at the end of the night because if Himes wins there by a decent margin he will run great in the rest of the city.

  • Mojo

    *** Why send a political message about being born in Bpt etc. when your heart is not really there? Debicella seems to have removed himself physically & mentally from any ties with Bpt a long time ago. Bpt voters are probably better off knowing his true colors now than expecting anything from him later should he win! Besides some of his comments were nothing new about Bpt politics, no? *** SOS ***

  • Up On Bridgeport

    Hey Rex Reed! How about a review of Rent and Simon and Garfunkel shows this weekend?

    • LennieGrimaldi

      Hi Up, I didn’t see T. Rex Reed but I did see the production of Rent at the Playhouse on the Green and an S&G tribute at the Downtown Cabaret. Sweet shows. Rent runs for a few weeks. Order your tix, great prices. A target=”_blank” href=”http://www.bridgeporttheatre.org”>www .bridgeporttheatre.org

  • Grin Reaper

    Where is Dan’s dad now?
    Did he take his pension and fly south or just far enough away from the city he loves?
    If I am Himes I would lie in wait for that strategy and I would have my Bridgeport surrogates lined up and ready to pounce on him.
    Talk about leading with your chin …

  • the Nose

    Amen, Lennie. Am I right in thinking Dan’s last name could pull a few North End voters? I will say that until you’ve been through it at least once it is hard to appreciate just how many diverse pockets of voters there are all over this very diverse district, where they are, who are your best messengers, and what is the best way to reach them all. There are a lot of people who want to offer advice and you simply can’t trust all of them. A Shelton campaign is no preparation for connecting with the many different audiences that comprise the 4th CD.

    But Debicella thinks enough of Chris Shays to put his endorsement in a TV spot; he could follow Shays’ example. Shays’ campaigns always fought for Bridgeport votes, and he kept it close enough to win two very competitive races. Lennie is correct here as usual: it is foolish for Dan to sit back and count on a rising GOP tide to lift him into office. The best offense is … a good offense.

    • Grin Ripper

      Nobody knows Chris Shays better than the nose. This could qualify him as nose-it-all!!!

      “The fundamentals of the economy are very strong. No One Could Disagree with That!!!” Chris Shays: Sept. 2008

  • town committee

    What is Debicella going to do. come to Bridgeport and rally the 8 registered Republicans still in town?
    The Disgusted Democrats are going to vote for him anyway whether he comes here or not.
    You don’t see Himes spending an inordinate amount of time in Bridgeport. Why is that? Because he basically will receive a majority of the vote from the Democratic lemmings.
    It will be a race but we won’t know the results until Tuesday night.

    • LennieGrimaldi

      tc, you don’t ignore 20,000 unaffiliated city voters. You never ignore, especially if well funded, available voters, and in this economic environment some will lean GOP. Let’s say 6,000 of those unaffiliated voters come out, many may be voting because of the governor’s race leading the ticket, or the U.S. Senate race next in line. The Congress ovals come next, and for some voters Congress will be an afterthought. Whether I’m Himes or Debicella I’d want to make sure I drilled enough of a message that they’d fill in my oval. It can make a difference in what appears to be a single-digit race.

  • Grin Ripper

    The Himes campaign should “Rent” the Arena for a video feed Obama Slamma Jamma Rally on Sunday, October 31st.

    Boo!!! That would be a scary thought for the Debicella camp!

  • Bob Walsh

    Breaking News Alert
    The New York Times
    Sun, October 17, 2010 — 7:25 PM ET
    - – - – -

    New York Poll Finds Anger at Albany and Wide Edge for Andrew M. Cuomo

    New York voters are profoundly pessimistic about the state economy, worried that they or someone in their household will be laid off in the coming year, and convinced that Albany is rife with corruption.

    But in the race for governor, they are rallying not around the gruff outsider who has promised to take a baseball bat to Albany, but around an insider who has spent much of his adult life working in government: Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo.

    So Lennie, how does the campaign pundit explain this? Anger is a tough vote to capture.
    As I have tried to explain to others, if there were real anger you would be seeing an increase in voter registration. But I am not seeing anything like that. It is difficult to call someone on election night at 7:00 and suggest if they are really angry at the system then they should put some clothes on and drive down to vote for someone they don’t know.

  • LennieGrimaldi

    Anger can be difficult to capture when neither candidate inspires in a cranky economy. Carl Paladino, Cuomo opponent, is a nut job. Troll, I have a hard time believing that if you called someone at 7 to vote for the candidate of your choice that they’d turn you down. A ride from the Troll would be irresistible!

    • Bob Walsh

      That goes without saying.
      Ed Gomes makes faces and claims to go ill when he hears me put on my Irish charm when talking to the voters over the phone.

  • Jim Callahan

    Lennie makes admirable points about the Debicella campaign in Bridgeport. They are in the highest tradition of citizen participation in democracy. These traditions are wrong for Debicella to win.

    The Republican objective is to stifle a voter turnout in Bridgeport. Anything that increases the turnout is liable to increase a Democratic Party turnout by generating enthusiasm. No Republican campaigning, no Democratic campaigning.

    Many of the swing areas mentioned in Lennie’s essay are in the 22nd State Senatorial District. It is a logical campaign area. Democrats aren’t going to campaign for Congressman Himes for fear of pulling a Republican turnout in a hostile environment. Hostile voters are going to vote Republican anyway.

    If you are a Republican, why bother? You might force Democrats to fight harder to ID votes. Better for Republicans to concentrate down county.

    Breaking this logjam should be a campaign for reelection by Democratic State Sen. Anthony Musto against Republican David R. Pia in the 22nd. They have agreed to run a “gentleman’s campaign” and are not criticizing each other.

    This is a good thing for both, as the district includes only a part of Bridgeport, and Trumbull and Monroe. Musto doesn’t have to explain how he tried to screw Bridgeport by putting a juvie jail in a residential neighborhood while being a tool for Trumbull and Monroe. Pia doesn’t have to explain he is a tool for Trumbull and Monroe and will screw Bridgeport every chance he gets, like his gentleman friend Musto.

    The big concern here should be safe sex. Are Musto and Pia responsible gentlemen? Are they using condoms? Happily, the answer appears to be a resounding “Yes!”

    Musto and Pia have got each other so covered it is a wonder they get any enjoyment out of the act. Election Day is its own reward. I’m sure a political sinecure can be arranged for the loser. They are both acting responsibly.

    • Bob Walsh

      I must reassess my political view of Sen. Musto. As the incumbent and based on some of the issues up in Trumbull when he was Treasurer, he has a lot more to gain with this neutrality agreement.
      He appears to have pulled off a quick one here. Unless of course it was Pia who came up with the suggestion. In that case Musto should have re-dug up all of the dirt he had on Pia and sifted it through a fine sieve before agreeing to the non-aggression pact.

    • Chris Russo

      It only includes half of Monroe. So when Longfellow comes in and completely erases the Republican lead in Monroe, that’s when you realize how much Bridgeport controls this senate seat. Because then you’re looking at the difference in Trumbull trying to withstand the onslaught from Central and Blackham along with steady 100-200 vote hits at Winthrop, Park City and Hooker. Black Rock can give you some relief, but it’s not as much as one might think. If a Republican wants to win that seat, they have to really work those northern polling places of Winthrop, Park City, and Hooker or hope the wave is large enough to strike there.

  • Grin Ripper

    Musto and Pia should move in together and get a Condominium.
    Would that be “Socially Conservative” enough for Pia?

  • Bob Walsh

    Now Leonard, how do you gauge top of the ticket momentum with a coattail effect?
    If you believe the most recent polls, it would appear that both Malloy and Blumenthal are solidifying their support, have ended their slide and are taking the numbers in a different direction. Foley and McMahon are heading in the wrong direction as election day gets closer.
    So you are beginning to see a stronger top of the ticket for the Dems. No one has questioned the strength of the other constitutional officers which the Republicans could not carry even with a strong gubernatorial candidate.
    So if you have a strong gubernatorial candidate, strong constitutional officers, strong US Senate candidate, aren’t you being too dismissive of Himes’ chances? Besides even with a lower turnout you will not see nearly as many voters bolting from the Democratic line to bullet vote for congress since it is a no-name candidate and not a veteran incumbent like Shays has been.

  • donj

    Great day on this blog today. Walsh you are on the money, Malloy and Blumie see to be solid with only 2 weeks left. I don’t see it happening where people in Bridgeport vote for Malloy and Blumie then go down to Debicella I don’t see that happening. Number 1 we have 2 strong candidates number 2 Debicella is not Shays where you would have people go down and vote for him. I personally know family members who voted for Shays in 2008 but will vote for Himes in 2010. 3 Shays’ camp worked hard regardless. They knew the would lose Bridgeport but they knew they wanted to stay as close as possible. I say Himes gets over 70% of the vote in Bridgeport. I cannot see Debicella pulling off 32% of the vote in Bridgeport like Shays did in 2006!!! Debicella is toast in Bridgeport!!! I have my issues with Himes but when it comes down to it he is the better man for Bridgeport. Vote Himes and let the good Himes Roll!!!

  • donj

    The First Lady was in Stamford today she should have been in Bridgeport. Lines were very long to see her. I wonder if Himes will post the picture of him and Barrack Obama together at certain precincts like Dunbar and Cross where Democrats can really run up the numbers.

  • Mojo

    *** A picture’s worth a thousand words, no? ***

  • Rhino

    Lennie, you’re way off base suggesting there are 20,000 votes at stake in Bridgeport for any Republican. Shays never got better than 8,000. Given that, why would Debicella or anyone target Bridgeport? They’re not ignoring the city, voters here will get the same mailers and see the same TV ads that account for over 90% of campaign spending but why would there be a specific Bridgeport strategy for under 8,000 votes? I’ve never heard anyone ask why Himes doesn’t run Shelton-specific ads. Why is Bridgeport different?

    • LennieGrimaldi

      Rhino, was Himes born in Shelton? No. Was Himes’ dad a Shelton cop? No. And when did I write 20,000 votes were at stake? I wrote if 6,000 of the 20,000 unaffiliated voters in the city cast a ballot (and that will probably happen) Debicella would be foolish to ignore them or not remind them of his roots in the city. Why is he running from the city of his birth where his dad wore the uniform? And you’re incorrect about Shays’ Bridgeport performance.

  • donj

    Hahahah Lennie put Rhino in his place!!! Rhino are you even from Bridgeport? LMAO! Rhino was off on the Shays numbers try 9956 for Shays in 2004!!! You can tell who are the out-of-towners you sound so anti-Bridgeport, well come Nov 2 Bridgeport is sending Himes back for another term!!!

    • Rhino

      donj, are you really trying to compare votes in a presidential election year to a mid-term? I’m sorry I wasn’t more clear, but I was comparing apples to apples, and Shays never got over 8,000 in a midterm, at least not in a contested race (Kantrowitz does not count as a contested race). Lennie, what does the Bridgeport electorate care about where Debicella was born? I don’t remember living in Bridgeport being much help to Shays against a Greenwich Dem or Russo against a Trumbull Dem.

      • LennieGrimaldi

        So you’re telling me Debicella doesn’t give a shit about the city in which he was born? A city that put food on his table? If that’s the case Dan is more than welcome to share his disdain for Bridgeport. Bridgeport voters will connect with a candidate who shows he cares about the city. It’s all about candidate message. As for Shays, he did a poor job connecting his residency to the Bridgeport electorate. As for Russo when he had a one-on-one race he performed well in Bridgeport. He lost in Bridgeport big two years ago because of first-time voters inspired by Barack who voted the Dem line. This is a different year.

        • Rhino

          Don’t put words in my mouth, I’m saying no such thing. I’m saying his limited funds are better spent on a district-wide strategy that includes Bridgeport, not by wasting money on a Bridgeport-specific strategy that would be lucky to earn him 100 extra votes.

          • LennieGrimaldi

            Good grief Rhino your candidate cannot kick out a news release bragging about outraising his opponent and then claim he has limited funds. He doesn’t have limited funds. He has plenty of funds. He obviously doesn’t care about Bridgeport. Or he’s afraid of it. Which is it?

          • Rhino

            Again Lennie, why does Bridgeport alone of all the towns always demand a “Bridgeport-only” strategy? I’ve never heard any other town say a candidate should have a strategy specific to their town. Other than as a ploy to get business for people who deem themselves Bridgeport political strategists, I can’t imagine why the effective communications plan being waged in the other 16 towns isn’t good enough for Bridgeport. Do we care less about jobs and the economy here than in Trumbull? Do we value independence less than Stamford?

            P.S. Outraising Himes in Q3 does not equal unlimited funds, as you know.

  • donj

    Interesting Rhino you’re wrong again you out-of-town friend. I was on Debicella’s Facebook the other day and it bragged how it out-raised Himes!!! Vote Himes!!! Debicella has lost touch.

  • bridgeportnow

    We are waiting for word from Himes’ office to find out if he differs in any way from Obama’s foreign policy, which some say is no different from president Bush.

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