With the latest fundraising quarter coming to a close, Mayor Joe Ganim is trying to put on a push this week in an area key for becoming a top-tier 2018 candidate for statewide office, raising money, be it public dollars or the old-fashioned way of large dollar donations. The Republican budget passed last week that Governor Dan Malloy has vowed to veto lanced the Citizens Election Program of publicly funded campaigns.
Ganim’s been fundraising like a candidate trying to qualify for public dough through small dollar donations to leverage a large pot of public cash–more than $1 million in a primary and more than $6 million for a general election–even though the State Elections Enforcement Commission declared him ineligible for a public subsidy as a result of his 2003 public corruption conviction. Ganim is challenging that in federal court on constitutional grounds. A decision is not likely to come for several months.
If the court rules against Ganim, who’s currently in an exploratory stage, he’d have to pivot his fundraising strategy to large dollar amounts upwards of a maximum $3,500 personal contribution as a candidate for governor, assuming the state’s public financing program survives the budget process.
Thursday night Ganim’s fundraising operation segues to O’Manel Restaurant, the popular Portuguese eatery on Main Street. Ganim also has a new campaign treasurer, Anthony Paoletto, the young city councilor who lost his seat in a primary last week. Maria Heller, a seasoned campaign treasurer, resigned last month, elevating Paoletto from deputy to treasurer.
Ganim’s gubernatorial relevancy relies heavily on the decision by Lieutenant Governor Nancy Wyman. Will she get into the race in a quest to replace Malloy who’s not seeking reelection, or sit it out? If she gets in, she’s the prohibitive favorite for the Democratic nomination. But does she want the grief of carrying Malloy’s baggage? If she passes, based on the configuration of the Democratic field, it’s still wide open. And guess what? If public dollars do not survive whatever budget is passed, Ganim has the largest fundraising base among the current field of Democrats. Ganim and Democratic Town Chair Mario Testa wouldn’t mind that at all. So on one level Ganim seeks public dollars to compete, but on another level will not lose sleep if public financing is torpedoed depending on the makeup of the field.
Meanwhile, the Republican field is wide open as well with the respective party conventions in May.