Joe Ganim returned to office in 2015 on a second-chance message that he hopes resonates on the gubernatorial campaign trial among urban voters across Connecticut. On Wednesday he spoke at the first re-entry reform day at the state capitol with several references to “Hartford mayor” Luke Bronin who recently dropped out of the race for governor, a nod to Bronin’s supporters Ganim must embrace to gain traction in his statewide run.
Once a disquieting notion, a public appeal to assimilate felons back into the economic work force is now a pragmatic outreach for Democrats in a blue state. Ganim’s doing so from experience having been convicted on federal corruption charges in 2003.
In Connecticut former offenders may vote provided they have satisfied court ordered fines and restitution. It provides a bloc of votes to candidates unafraid to appeal on a second-chance message. In 2015 the Ganim campaign registered hundreds of felons who didn’t even know they could vote under Connecticut state law. Overwhelmingly they voted for Ganim in his close primary win over incumbent Bill Finch on his way to a general election victory.
Unclear if Ganim can bring that calling to other urban areas of the state. It’s a difficult balance. If it’s going to work he must marry his past with what he’ll do for them in the future because most electors vote on the future.
Ganim’s call for a new Connecticut economy centered on cities must resonate with new ideas that capture an electorate nonplussed with the current state of affairs. He must become a work horse, versus show horse, with ideas.