UPDATE: video from Doing It Local. He ran on a second-chance message that resurrected him as chief executive of Connecticut’s largest city in 2015 and now Mayor Joe Ganim is gearing up for a 2018 statewide run in which he’ll tout a new Connecticut economy with cities as the economic drivers. Ganim is expected to announce his official run for governor January 3rd. Ganim opened a Twitter account on Thursday after a fake feed had appeared.
Eight months ago Ganim filed paperwork for an exploratory committee for governor, testing the waters for fundraising and Democratic Party support. He did so under the leap of faith he’d quality for the state’s voluntary Citizens Election Program of publicly funded races that would avail roughly $1.4 million for a primary.
The State Elections Enforcement Commission denied Ganim’s participation in the program based on his 2003 conviction on public corruption charges. Ganim challenged the decision and a federal judge upheld the prohibition ruling Ganim’s rights were not violated because an avenue exists for him to raise money.
So Ganim will be back on the stump raising money the old-fashioned way from large money donors to finance outreach in the short term to Democratic delegates to the state party convention in May where he hopes to achieve support from 15 percent to qualify for a projected August primary. The maximum personal contribution to a campaign for governor is $3,500.
Connecticut’s highest profile state pols such as Governor Dan Malloy, Lieutenant Governor Nancy Wyman and Attorney General George Jepsen have opted out of respective statewide runs. Ganim is among several current and former municipal chief executives seeking/exploring the Democratic nomination including Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin and Middletown Mayor Dan Drew.
Ganim is the mayor of Bridgeport, but when not there he’s toiling in the political lands of Connecticut’s cities, most prominently delegate and voter rich New Haven where he’s built an alliance with Mayor Toni Harp on regional job creation. He was also recently in West Haven, see video above from his campaign Facebook page where he addresses his past. On Facebook he declares:
“I haven’t been to a home, city or town where I’ve met a group of people who said they’ve done everything perfect. But I have family and friends, and people I met along the way that want and deserve a second chance. Thank you for also looking past the mistakes and seeing the best in people.”
Ganim is no stranger to a statewide run. In 1994, shortly after he was reelected to a second term as mayor, he launched a gubernatorial bid ending up as the running mate to party nominee Bill Curry who lost a close contest to Republican John Rowland. Ganim continued to work Democratic insiders for eight years and was tracking to be the party standard bearer for governor in 2002 until derailed by the federal corruption probe. He spent six years in federal prison. Released in 2010, Ganim contemplated a run for mayor in 2011, but felt the timing wasn’t right. On January 1, 2015 he commenced his public outreach for a return at an East End church.
Against the odds, facing well financed incumbent Bill Finch, Ganim executed an extraordinary public outreach campaign coupling his accomplishments as mayor from November 1991 to April 2003 with a second-chance message that galvanized large blocs of African American voters carrying him to a tight primary win on his way to a big general election victory.
Once again, against the odds, Ganim is expected to seek the state’s top spot running as a Hartford outsider pursuing a city-centric message to transform Connecticut’s troubled economy.
The Republican side features a mega field including Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, Shelton Mayor Mark Lauretti, former Trumbull First Selectman Tim Herbst and Bridgeport resident David Walker, the former U.S comptroller general.
At this early stage both parties are headed for August primaries.