Dishon J. Francis, a Republican candidate running for the Office of Mayor in the city of Bridgeport, has released a statement regarding the endorsement of John Rodriguez for Mayor by the Bridgeport Republican Town Committee.
“On Tuesday, July 23, 2019, members of the Bridgeport Republican Town Committee nominated and endorsed John Rodriguez for Bridgeport Mayor. Prior to the endorsement, Mr. Rodriguez did not express any public interest in running for mayor. In his 2017 run for Bridgeport City Council, Mr. Rodriguez did not fundraise and received a total of 47 votes, 3.57% of total votes cast in the district and a distant 3rd place finish behind Ernie Newton and Eneida Martinez. In 2018, Mr. Rodriguez ran for state senate against Dennis Bradley and received only 12% of the total votes cast and did not participate in the state Citizen Election Program (CEP).
“While I’m sure Mr. Rodriguez is a nice person, I don’t believe the mayoral campaign of Mr. Rodriguez or most of the slate of Republican candidates endorsed by the Bridgeport Republican Town Committee represents a good faith effort to compete against the candidates endorsed by the Bridgeport Democratic Town Committee. The endorsement of Mr. Rodriguez is a de-facto endorsement for Joe Ganim and the Bridgeport political machine. Mr. Rodriguez has neither the determination nor drive to wage a competitive campaign for mayor against Joe Ganim or any other candidate. I have always believed that trust is earned as opposed to given, which is why I will be waging a primary campaign and directly seeking the support of Bridgeport Republicans. Starting today, my team and I will be doing the hard work necessary to collect signatures to qualify for the primary.
“In March of 2019, I approached the Bridgeport Republican Town Committee Chairman regarding a possible run for Bridgeport Mayor; he stated I should run as a Democrat. On June 6, 2019, I held a Meet and Greet and invited every member of the Bridgeport Republican Town Committee to attend, including Chairman Michael Garrett; he declined. On June 19, 2019, I tried to attend a Bridgeport RTC meeting at Port 5; Michael Garrett denied me entry in violation of Republican State Party rules. Given recent history, I was not surprised by the nomination and endorsement of a candidate who has no intention of running a competitive race because unfortunately this is standard practice in the Bridgeport Republican Party. Apart from Rick Torres’ 3 mayoral runs, no other Bridgeport candidate has attempted to run competitive races for Bridgeport Mayor within the last 20 years. Mr. Garrett did not run a competitive race for mayor in 2007 and Mr. Rodriguez will not run a competitive race in 2019 if he remains the nominee.
“Running non-competitive Republican candidates in name only on the ballot in municipal and state elections is the reason why most city candidates choose to become Democrats and run in Democratic primaries. There are of course exceptions; Republicans Rick Torres, Phil Blagys and previously registered Republican Donna Curran have run active campaigns for city council in the 130th and most endorsed Republicans running for the Bridgeport Board of Education have competed for guaranteed minority seats, but the vast majority of Bridgeport municipal and state district candidates are place holder names on the ballot to give the appearance of choice to voters. The process is a disservice to those people who never intend to run for elected office and to Bridgeport voters who are looking for viable alternatives to candidates endorsed by the Bridgeport Democratic Town Committee.
“Running candidates in ‘name only’ has serious consequences when it comes to the financing of campaigns. Over the past 10 years, the Bridgeport RTC has given hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional CEP grant funds to Democratic state senate and representative candidates by putting Republican names on the ballot who have no intention of fund raising, walking, or competing in the general election. BRTC Chairman Mike Garrett is probably the biggest offender when he gave Senator Ed Gomes an additional $66,000 in CEP grant funds in 2016 when he submitted his name for running for State Senate in the 23rd District. Chairman Garrett never formed a campaign committee and never raised a dime. Had he left the Republican ballot position blank, Senator Gomes’ CEP grant would have been reduced by $66,000. More money for Democratic candidates means more campaign canvassers, more campaign mailers, and more money for absentee ballots operations. This not only helps Bridgeport Democratic candidates; it hurts state-wide Republicans trying to compete in the city. If Chairman Garrett doesn’t understand that then maybe he isn’t fit to lead the party. It’s sad to say but the greatest contributor to the Bridgeport DTC has been the Bridgeport RTC. Rather than operate as the vocal minority, the Bridgeport RTC has acted like a wholly owned subsidiary.”
Francis concluded, “Successful cities and towns have active parties that create checks and balances of power on each other. If Republicans continue running candidates in name only, we will continue to lose the trust of Bridgeport voters, enrolled registered Republicans, and elections. The only way we can bring real change to the City of Bridgeport is to challenge the status quo and my team and I plan to do just that. I will not be the only person challenging endorsed Republicans for elected positions and I ask all registered Republicans to please sign my petition and the petitions of other candidates who want the opportunity to compete in the primary on Tuesday, September 10th.”