Beyond the usual give and take over issues and bill proposals advanced by lawmakers, the real drama for the new legislative session is how members of the city’s state delegation, all Democrats, position themselves for reelection. State Senator Ed Gomes has not announced if he will seek reelection.
Gomes has represented Connecticut’s 23rd State Senate District since 2005. The district covers about three quarters of Bridgeport plus a piece of Stratford. Several pols tell OIB State Rep. Andres Ayala is telling them he’ll seek Gomes’ seat. Ernie Newton, Gomes’ predecessor, has already announced he wants his old job back. State Rep. Don Clemons is also considering a run. Newton and Clemons both enjoy base support in the East End. Ayala is well known on the East Side. If Gomes doesn’t run look for others to jump in.
Gomes is a warrior, irrespective of some health issues, at age 76. He has qualified for a state pension. He says he’ll make a decision about seeking reelection when he’s good and ready and not based on who may or may not be running against him. Ayala, as the leader of the city’s legislative delegation, has already started the process of trotting out statements about money he’s brought to the city, particularly moolah to invest for redevelopment of East Side projects in which Mayor Bill Finch’s Deputy Chief of Staff Ruben Felipe is shepherding such as a new train station and Steel Point as well as deconstruction of the General Electric plant on Boston Avenue.
State Rep. Jack Hennessy could face a challenge from City Councilwoman Michelle Lyons who’s popular in the North End. That would be some battle. But if Lyons is gonna get in the game she’ll need to make a decision soon, especially if she taps into the state’s public financing system that is a lot of work for first-time candidates. Tracking down hundreds of small donors is labor intensive, but has a nice payoff at the end.
East End City Councilman Andre Baker, who has an independent-minded streak, is also considering a run for Clemons’ State House seat.
Legislators with primaries will probably have some company. Looks like a Democratic primary clash for a retiring Joe Lieberman’s U.S. Senate seat will take place between Congressman Chris Murphy, former Connecticut Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz and State Rep. William Tong. OIB friend Sly Salcedo is also an announced candidate, but can Sly petition his way on the ballot? The other three have money and organizations. Sly has an issue to bring to the table: the country’s war on drugs is a public-relations scam and the money we waste on it can fuel jobs, infrastructure and better schools.
Polling shows Murphy as an early favorite in the race whether a primary or against chief general election Republican opponents Linda McMahon and former Congressman Chris Shays. Party endorsements in May followed by primaries in August.