Ganim Mines Opposition Money In Fundraising Push

Political operatives of Mayor Joe Ganim in a push to maximize moolah for his big ticket March 23rd fundraiser at Testo’s Restaurant are mining campaign donations from his 2015 opponents.

In a letter to contributors of Mary-Jane Foster, a Ganim opponent in both the Democratic primary and general election, Ganim writes, “Although I may not have been your first choice for Mayor in the last election cycle, I hope you feel as I do that we need to work together to continue Bridgeport’s progress. A large group of friends and supporters will be gathering on March 23, 2017 at Testo’s Ristorante on Madison Avenue in Bridgeport for cocktails to reflect on what we have accomplished thus far and talk about the exciting opportunities that lie ahead for our city.”

Ganim showed surprising fundraising strength in his 2015 comeback. One fundraising market now available to him that wasn’t two years ago is the business community that largely supported then incumbent Bill Finch whom Ganim defeated in a primary and then Mary-Jane Foster, a petitioning candidate in the general election.

Mickey Herbert, now chief executive of the Bridgeport Regional Business Council, was among the few high-profile business leaders to back Ganim.

Ganim wants to load up his municipal reelection treasury now with an eye toward a potential statewide run for office in 2018. If that fails he can pivot back to his municipal reelection for 2019.

Finch spent about $600,000 in becoming the first incumbent mayor in city history to lose in a primary. Ganim spent just about that amount between the primary and general election.

What’s a realistic goal for next week’s fundraiser? If Ganim and Democratic Town Chair Mario Testa push it, $100,000 would be a mighty start given the advertised minimum $500 donation to the $1,000 maximum personal contribution.

Once Ganim gets through his municipal budget cycle in June he will begin to assess his chances for a statewide run next year. To be in play he must hold the line on taxes and hope development projects go vertical. A lot of this also depends on the reelection prospects of Governor Dan Malloy and the field of candidates. State Comptroller Kevin Lembo and State Senator Ted Kennedy Jr. are Democratic names being floated by statewide political operatives for a run for governor. Several Republicans including Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton and Trumbull First Selectman Tim Herbst are raising money for a statewide run.

Ganim, the 1994 Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor, was the favorite for the 2002 Democratic gubernatorial nomination until derailed by a federal corruption probe of his administration.

Heralding a second-chance message Ganim returned to office in 2015.

Fundraising on a state level is a different animal than a municipal office under the state’s voluntary Citizens Election Program of publicly funded races. Depending on the office sought, it’s a labor-intensive process to raise small donations to achieve a qualifying threshold of public money.

In 2013, the state legislature passed a new law (some refer to it as the “Ernie Newton law”) that prohibits candidates from seeking public campaign grants if the candidate has been convicted of a criminal offense, or served time within an eight-year period prior to seeking state office, or further violates public office. The genesis of the bill was former State Senator Ernie Newton’s arrest on state campaign finance charges accusing him of falsifying $500 in campaign donations that triggered an $80,000 grant under the CEP program during his State Senate run in 2012.

Following his 2003 conviction on corruption charges, Ganim completed his time in 2010 but it’s unclear if he could legally participate in the public money state program. If not, he’d have to raise it the old fashioned way.

In 2015 the state legislature had considered a bill backed by Finch to prohibit officials convicted of public corruption from seeking office. The bill did not come up for a vote.



  1. Hey Joe, I remember what a lying prick you were during Ganim1 and what a lying prick you are now. Joe, remember the golf course you said you would not sell or lease?

  2. Always follow the money. Why would donators make donations to Joe Ganim? Answer, they want something in return and they expect something back in return.

  3. Is it true (or just my imagination working overtime) OIB uses more ink to report on Joe Ganim’s political fund raising than on his Mayoral responsibilities of keeping expenses low, lowering taxes by budget control, increasing the taxable Grand List and providing the public and taxpayers with Open, Accountable, Transparent and honest financial reports???

    I believe I have contributed to one or more candidates who opposed Ganim2 for office. They were people who were interested in the facts and fiscal reporting that I did and who talked with me about the City’s future. (Joe Ganim never got around to that activity and has also failed to communicate or personally engage in conversation with me in his months in office. Probably that is why I did not receive a letter asking for funds, isn’t it?)

    A new budget year is almost upon us. State revenue sources do not look like they will be tapped as easily as in the past, especially for the future of our City, meaning the education of all the kids.

    So, Joe’s priorities, which he has kept to himself thus far will be important when the new budget comes out. If the City is losing State funding, if the City has settled with Wheelabrator for a tax revenue reduction from them over the next 10 years of up to $2 Million per year, if the pension assumptions continue to exceed actual results and force supplementary additional payments over the following several years, if, if, if, well you see where we are headed? What are the priorities to sort spending line items? Why don’t we start with fixed expenses for post-employment benefits including pensions, the bond payment costs including the prospective funding for schools where projects are still in design or on the drawing boards, and critical capital needs. Ganim2, leaders set out the responsibilities to all of the people in such fashion. Only “The Great Ganemi” a magician in his “second act” can attempt to escape such basic performance. In the light of political fund raising that is not tied to the position of Bridgeport Mayor, perhaps such funds are part of his “escape routine,” just as in the story of the Great Houdini?? Why doesn’t Joe commit himself to real performance, rather than a sham with communication, 50% or less of necessary to draw good conclusions?? Would that behavior begin to earn him a right to use his “second act” for connection to his first act that was interrupted by police authorities charging him with bad choices? Which of you supports this “bridging” assumption? Time will tell.

    1. I’d say: It’s your imagination working overtime. As evidence, I point to all the commentary from JML published on OIB. I believe Lennie Grimaldi had a lot to do with this.

  4. John, I hate to say this but Lennie has changed the tenor of OIB since Ganim came back. Perhaps this blog should be called G & G ask us anything, we will gladly run you around the block.


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