Backed by a high-rollers’ reception that included maximum personal contributions of $3,500, Mayor Joe Ganim’s Runyonesque run for governor raised roughly $150,000 Thursday night at Testo’s Restaurant whose owner Democratic Town Chair Mario Testa ballot-positions Ganim for a May party convention and Democratic primary in August. More than 100 attended the fundraiser.
Boxed out of the state’s public financing program because of his 2003 conviction on federal corruption charges, Ganim is raising moolah the old-fashioned way through large contributions trying to compete with qualifying opponents who’ll have roughly $1.2 million to spend from the public financing system. Greenwich entrepreneur Ned Lamont, who is self-funding, will spend millions. Other Democrats in the mix include former Connecticut Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz, Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin and former state commissioner Jonathan Harris. The race is wide open. So too, on the Republican side.
Three months from the party convention Ganim has raised in total roughly $375,000 for governor. More checks will trickle in from Thursday’s event. The traditional givers–lawyers, contractors, city employees, access seekers–were among the donors Thursday. In addition, Testa invited some local political operatives that he and Ganim must keep on board for future support.
Moving forward Ganim must raise about $100,000 a month to approach $1 million for a presumed August primary. Ganim must also move around the state to raise significant money beyond his Bridgeport area donor base. Part of that equation is persuading potential donors of his candidacy viability. If they think he can win campaign cash will flow. If they think not, good luck with that.
A lot can happen between now and then. First, Ganim must land a ballot spot. That means securing 15 percent delegate support at the convention. Without that his option is a long hard slog petitioning onto the ballot via signatures from Democratic electors in the state.
Ganim has staffed up for his gubernatorial run reaching back to a seasoned friend Jay Marlin, a veteran of numerous races in Connecticut and around the country, to serve as a key strategist. Marlin was Ganim’s campaign manager when first elected mayor in 1991. Ganim has also brought on New Haven political operative Jackie James as campaign manager. New Haven is a pivotal Ganim area for delegates and votes. New Haven, followed by Bridgeport, will field the largest delegations at the May convention.
The upcoming March 6th Democratic Town Committee primaries are critical to Ganim’s candidacy viability. The 90-member DTC selects party officers. Testa needs 46 votes to win another two-year term. Insurgent fever is in the air so Ganim and Testa must pay attention to the local district primaries to ensure a majority of their supporters win.
If Testa receives another two years he’ll focus on two Ganim priorities: raising money and building delegate support for Ganim at the May convention. Step one, as party chair Testa influences the Bridgeport delegate selection. Step two, he can leverage that delegation to win Ganim delegate support around the state. You want our support for attorney general? We want your city’s delegate support for Ganim.
And so it goes. Stay tuned for the machinations.