For Ganim, It’s All About MOM, The Search For Statewide Relevance

Ganim dog
Ganim needs a message that barks.

A candidate without a message is like a dog without a bark. As Mayor Joe Ganim embarks his official run for governor this week, it’s the stew of blending three key ingredients because campaigns are like having dear old MOM at your side–message, organization and money. Sometimes, in rare situations, one of the three is enough. Sometimes two enough. In Ganim’s case he’ll require all three to resonate from a long-shot portal.

Ganim has layers of hurdles to overcome. He must have a message right out of the box that declares forcefully why he’s running. And for most candidates, even experienced ones, honing a message is often the most difficult. Why are you running? That’s arguably the most trying question to answer, followed by a voter’s retort; okay, what’s in it for me?

A candidate without message spoils the other two pieces. Ganim emerged as a top-tier candidate for governor 20 years ago because he was seen as taming the big bad dragon that is the city of Bridgeport. He improved it and people noticed. Coupled with his talented retail skills and working state party insiders he was tracking to become Democratic candidate for governor in 2002. The federal corruption probe lanced that.

Bridgeport voters returned him to office in 2015. It aches Joe to look at a field he considers limp by his standards. Can he overcome the baggage of the past? Yes, with some voters because most electors vote on the future. If his message flops however, he leaves them no alternative than to focus on the past. Yes, they brought him back in Bridgeport, but asking a statewide audience to make you governor is a much higher bar. So none of that matters unless he has a potent rationale for running. For now, most statewide political observers don’t see Ganim as a threat. That’s not such a bad thing because he can fly under the radar while building pieces. If he’s perceived as a threat then the pouncing commences.

Now let’s look at the money piece. In a primary Ganim will be outspent. The question, if he takes it that far, by how much?

Bronin, Malloy
Luke Bronin’s relationship with Malloy a double-edged sword.

The potential field of Democrats in a primary, Middletown Mayor Dan Drew, former state commissioner Jonathan Harris, former Connecticut Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz, 2010 gubernatorial candidate Ned Lamont, Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin. Among that configuration Bronin would likely have the leg up for the party endorsement in May, given his umbilical cord attached to Governor Dan Malloy’s political operation. Good, bad or ugly, Bronin’s ascension essentially represents Malloy’s third term. For now, in the short term, that’s good because the apparatus is in place. The general election, if Bronin gets there, is a different story. Bronin has a magnificent resume, but he’s easy to run against. If you want a third term of Malloy, vote for Bronin. But for now, Bronin’s the leading endorsement boy if he gets in, based on the likely field.

Susan Bysiewicz
Susan Bysiewicz, back on the trail

Once the party endorsement is complete the State Elections Enforcement Commission will parcel out money from the Citizens Election Program of publicly funded races. Ganim’s felony record prohibits his participation. Qualifying Democratic candidates will  have roughly $1.4 million to spend for the August 14 primary, a mighty fast-blast outreach.

Lamont, the wealthy Greenwich cable television entrepreneur, can self fund, as he did in 2010 when he was croaked by party-endorsed Dan Malloy in a primary. Lamont outspent Malloy heavily, but that race was about what Malloy spent, not what Lamont spent. Malloy, through public funding, had what he needed.

Let’s look at Ganim’s money piece. He has roughly $100,000 or more on hand he will roll from an exploratory committee into a candidate committee. What can Ganim raise from larger-dollar donors with a maximum personal contribution of $3,500? Hard to say because his Bridgeport area donor base that includes the usual givers, public payroll, contractors, lawyers and business community has been tapped pretty good from several fundraisers: his mayoral reelection campaign for which he has raised $200,000, exploratory campaign, Democratic Town Committee events. Ganim cannot co-mingle his mayoral campaign funds with his gubernatorial campaign. Perhaps he can squeeze another couple of hundred thousand out of that base. He’ll need to mine other fundraising sources. That can become an ambitious undertaking if potential donors do not see him as viable. What can turn them in his favor? A strong message, visibility, weak field, public polling that shows relevance.

Now we get to the third piece: organization. Generally, message and money drive the organization. Primaries are all about identifying friends and dragging them to the polls. He’ll need a strong campaign team to help him build that operation. One way Ganim can build organization (and additional fundraising opportunities) is forming alliances to fill out constitutional ticket spots: lieutenant governor, attorney general, comptroller, treasurer, secretary of the state. Come party convention time, Ganim will need 15 percent support from delegates to qualify for the ballot. Bridgeport, after New Haven, has the most delegates at the convention. Oh, you want our support for attorney general? Okay, we want some of your delegates. In lieu of receiving 15 percent Ganim can qualify for the ballot via petition signatures.

A key figure in this is Democratic Town Chair Mario Testa. Love him or loathe him, Mario’s a crafty operator who knows his way around the inner workings of state politics.

But Ganim and Mario must pay close attention to home in this process–the expected town committee primaries in March. Opposition slates are now organizing for district battles. Bridgeport has 10 districts with 9 members per. The town committee members elect a chairman. If enough opposition forms to thwart another two-year term for Mario it throws a major wrench into Ganim’s plans for delegate selection at the convention. Talk about dropping a turd in the party bunch bowl. Given the restlessness of the city electorate in recent years, they cannot afford to ignore this piece because it could also damage Ganim’s chances for mayoral election in 2019.

Let’s say for argument’s sake that Ganim finds a way to catch fire and wins the Democratic primary. His money will be drained with the Republican having $6.5 million of public money to spend in the general election. And that’s part of the machinations Ganim faces in this long-shot process. In politics you take your shot when presented. To Ganim’s way of thinking it’s worth the shot.



  1. Joe Ganim would be the worst thing that could happen to this state. What has he done since he was elected in G2 not much that I can think of. Has he put a dent in crime? No the murder rate is extremely high. Has he improved the tax base so that we can get a tax break? NO Has he hired back all of his old cronies to the city payroll? Does Joe Ganim even live here? Why are we paying people that essentially do nothing example Ed Adams Angel DePara and the former police chief. The list goes on and on. What does Joe Ganim really want? His law licence.

  2. I must go back two years ago to the apology from Mayor Ganim speaking at the 2015 Emancipation event at East End Baptist Tabernacle Church, this event jump started Joe Ganim’s comeback. At no time did Joe Ganim acknowledge the event and why all of these black pastors were there for Emancipation Day program held on New Years Day and the reason for this celebration. Ganim had no knowledge or understanding “Watch Night Service” held every New Year Eve as the New Year comes in.

    There is a reason for the importance of New Year’s Eve services in African American congregations.
    The Watch Night Services in Black communities that we celebrate today can be traced back to gatherings on December 31, 1862, also known as “Freedom’s Eve.”

    On that night, Blacks came together in churches and private homes all across the nation, anxiously awaiting news that the Emancipation Proclamation actually had become law. Then, at the stroke of midnight, it was January 1, 1863, and all slaves in the Confederate States were declared legally free.

    When the news was received, there were prayers, shouts and songs of joy as people fell to their knees and thanked God.

    Black folks have gathered in churches annually on New Year’s Eve ever since, praising God for bringing us safely through another year.

    Joe Ganim had no idea how important that celebration was to all of those at that service, instead it was all about Joe Ganim and nothing about the importance of Emancipation Day to the black voters. Thanks for nothing Joe.

    1. One comes away from Little Joe’s cmpaign for statewide iffice thinking he believes his egomania will be enough to convince voters he is the best man for chief executive.

    2. Ron,
      Thank you for telling that story publicly in Bridgeport. Christian churches have been presenting “good news” by way of gospel stories for centuries but on that particular evening, New Years Eve 1862, the waiting was for the freedom from chains as of January 1, 1863 through the Emancipation Proclamation.

      Well if folks found the idea of freedom exciting they have also found the journey forward since that day beset by roadblocks and challenges because of ‘racism’, and the failure of attempts at “reconstruction”. Economic opportunity has been limited. Education is not a Ganim priority (unless there is a building attached) for he has ignored routine and reasonable communication with the BOE that puts a lie to any spin his PR mouthpieces attempt.

      Look where Joe spends his time and spends his funds. It is not for Bridgeport’s future. It’s about Joe’s future. On a basic level, if Joe’s actions in office, Part I and Part II, are stitched together, do they warrant advancement to Higher Office? Do they provide a reason for a Bridgeport Mayor to have his times in office “bridged for his benefits”? If not, how has he done that to taxpayers as well? Time will tell.

      1. JML, this is what pisses me off about Joe Ganim speech, most politicians and just about all pastors know and understand where they are when they are going to speak and they understand the circumstances of the event that has bought everybody together for the event. Joe Ganim acted as if the entire event was all about Little Joe. Just like those pastors who were there, I like them believe in giving someone a chance especially when the person acknowledges their wrong doing and atone for their action. Joe Ganim doesn’t do that in the video and again, it’s all about Joe.

        Watch “Ganim at East End Baptist Church – Apology” on YouTube

        1. The entire DTC assumes that voting patterns will remain as they have been, unexciting and uninvolved….EXCEPT…when there’s a reason. Listen to the stories of 2008 and 2012 for many black voters getting a chance to cast a ballot for Obama. And listen to those in Alabama in the recent special election who came out in %s only seen in 2008 and 2012. They made a difference. Are there enough registered voters who do not actually vote, who may be concerned about education, equal opportunities, libraries, etc.?? You bet there are. How do you appeal to pride, to hope, to behavior that commands respect like excellence in school, team success in sports, serving the community long term and faithfully, military service? And racism has not yet shut down the opportunity to vote the current folks out and install new folks who will sit with you at the table, rather than being the meal discussed by those at the table. Worth a try? Time will tell.

    3. Joe Ganim conned the people that voted for him using the shallowest trickery. That, twenty bucks a vote and a few dead people voting via absentee ballot will buy an election. No surprise there, this is Bridgeport after all. At this point he’s maintaining the status quo at City Hall for Mario “Boss Tweed” Testa. A few photo ops can’t distract from the cold hard truth that Joseph P. Ganim is a fraud, a con man.

      The development projects he’s been touting are for the most part leftovers from Bill Finch’s administration. His handling of the municipal budget ain’t nothing to crow about. Violent crime is up, shootings and murders. He’s coming up short on campaign funds as well. Mr. Ganim’s message seems to be “Look at me. I’m a convicted felon and the people of the city of Bridgeport re-elected me. Everyone deserves a fresh start once in a while…”

      Really, Joe? REALLY?! The people of the city of Bridgeport deserve a lot better. No sale.

    4. Thats’s a powerfully telling story Ron, and perfectly sums up the lying little creep. Here are two others; During Ganim 1, my 7-months pregnant wife was a reporter for the CT Post and was covering a Ganim event on one of the top floors of People’s Bank. She got there the same time he and his entourage did. The elevator opened on the ground floor with people on it. Ganim barged right in before they could even get off, and nearly knocked my pregnant wife over pushing his way in. When they arrived, he again barged right out in front of everyone, no excuse me, just the usual arrogant smirk. Then there was Opening Day for the BRLL one year at Ellsworth Field. Supposed “coach” Joe Ganim showed up, hit a few grounders to his “team” so the CT Post could snap his photo, and then got in his cop-driven city car and left. I don’t think he was back for a single inning that season, though his long-suffering then-wife Jennifer was there for every game to watch their kids play. Joe cares about Joe, period.

  3. *** Off topic, Time for all Latino U.S citizens, stateside and in U.S territories to register & vote Dem. or Independent in 2018. Local, state wide or Fed.elections to send a political message to the Trump Admin. & its supporters, including the (have the votes in the house and senate) do nothing but look the other way GOP. We must not assume that certain political canidates have the election won before the facts and not vote or keep an inactive registration due to laziness. If you do not vote than you have no right to complain later due to the political outcome.Vote in 2018!

    1. Mojo, well back, I’m glad that you made your comment because those on OIB need to hear the point of view from a Hispanic, that’s why I’ll make it clear at times what my viewpoints are and where I’m coming from.

    2. Donald Trump’s antipathy toward the Spanish speaking world is well known: “We’re gonna a build a wall to keep ’em out!” Let’s not forget his administration’s tepid response to the devastation on Puerto Rico. (Trump is such a dumb ass he thought Puerto Rico eas a foreign nation.) Less than half the island has electricity. Puerto Ricans are fleeing to the mainland, in droves, to Florida, New York City and other places with large Latino communities. The Republican National Committee ought to take note they are all American citizens, with voting rights. The Democratic Party is going to exploit that fact. 

      On a parallel, Doug Jones, a Democrat, winning a Senate seat in Alabama, the deepest red state below the Mason Dixon line, was achieved by mobilizing the African-American vote. Judge Roy Moore, the GOP candidate, was twice removed as chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court for defying federal court rulings regarding separation of church and state and same sex marriage. Apparently Judge Moore objects to Muslim shariah law but it’s okay for evangelical Christians to impose their parochial views on everyone else. He also has a documented history of involvement with white nationalists and neo confederate groups. In contrast Doug Jones, a distinguished former U.S. Attorney, prosecuted  Ku Klux Klansmen Bobby Frank Cherry and Thomas Benton for the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1963 that resulted in the deaths of four schoolgirls.

  4. *** Thanks for the past history info. on Bamma state politics & Judge Moore & Doug Jones. Time to politically move against the Trump Admin./there supporters & the GOP in general. It starts locally, then state-wide, then move to U.S national elections across America. ***VOTE***

  5. The national GOP is in shambles. Donald Trump, the party’s leader and public face, plays politics as if it is a “reality” program on network television. Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan, the GOP’s leadership on Capitol Hill, have been unable to build consensus with the ultra conservatives in their caucus. Jeff Flake, Bob Corker and now Orrin Hatch have announced retirement. Flake and Corker are leaving oit of disgust, Hatch due to pressure back home in Utah. Paul Ryan is rumored to be contemplating the autumn of his career in public office. The so-called “freedom caucus” (really the Tea Party in different clown suits) has been giving Ryan fits. John Boehner got tired of dealing with them.

    1. House Speaker Paul Ryan wants to cut holes in the social safety net during the 2018 legislative session, taking aim at programs poor people depend on to survive, Fox News reported.

      “We’re going to get back at reforming these entitlements. And we’re going to take on welfare reform, which is another big entitlement program, where we’re basically paying people, able-bodied people, not to work and depriving them with all these disincentives from going to the workforce,” he said.

      Fresh off passing tax reform legislation in December, the GOP wants to roll that momentum in 2018. The tax overhaul, which mainly benefits corporations and wealthy individuals, adds $1.4 trillion to the deficit. Now, the Republicans are looking for ways slash the debt they created. The solution to them is axing government health care programs and social services spending. “Frankly, it’s the health care entitlements that are the big drivers of our debt, so we spend more time on the health care entitlements — because that’s really where the problem lies, fiscally speaking,” Ryan said on Ross Kaminsky’s talk radio show.

      In addition to funding cuts, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, a federal agency within the Department of Health, has already signaled that changes are coming to the health care program for poor people. The agency, in a departure from President Barack Obama’s approach, is recommending that states establish a work requirement for certain Medicaid beneficiaries.

      1. Medicare, Yes, Medicare is on the table, even though the GOP has long feared a backlash from seniors. Ryan has been talking with President Donald Trump about the need to cut the program. “I think the president is understanding that choice and competition works everywhere in health care, especially in Medicare,” the House Speaker said.

      2. Medicaid, In addition to funding cuts, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, a federal agency within the Department of Health, has already signaled that changes are coming to the health care program for poor people. The agency, in a departure from President Barack Obama’s approach, is recommending that states establish a work requirement for certain Medicaid beneficiaries.

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