What to look for in 2022:
Two months away from primaries for March Democratic Town Committee seats, the officials who conduct party business, endorse candidates for public office and appoint party officers.
Nothing like campaigning in the winter for the lowest of municipal turnouts. The DTC has 90 members covering 10 districts. Unclear yet the number of district challenges. Terms run two years.
Shortly after the March primaries the body assembles to choose a chairman, the position occupied by Mario Testa for most of the past 30 years. Mario will go for another two years barring a dramatic turnover in membership.
This year is also a gubernatorial/legislative cycle with party endorsements in May in advance of August primaries. Governor Ned Lamont is up for reelection, no likely primary opponent, awaiting the Republican standard bearer.
Closer to home, politics is an immense swirl. State Senator Dennis Bradley is scheduled for trial in March defending federal charges of manipulating Connecticut’s public financing system for his state run in 2018. This is the first federal case of its kind since implementation of the state program more than a decade ago. The government has lined up a bunch of witnesses to make its case against Bradley who’s represented by experienced defense attorney James Glasser, a former federal prosecutor.
This is the time of year pols begin to lay the groundwork for a state run, but Bradley’s trial has hit the pause button for most until his trial outcome. If he goes down, a free-for-all could ensue. If he’s exonerated, he’ll seek reelection with an eye toward the mayoral cycle next year.
Who’s out there as potential top-tier candidates? City Council President Aidee Nieves, City Councilman Ernie Newton, who once occupied the seat, State Rep Andre Baker are among the possibilities, depending on Bradley’s outcome. Others could jump in, based on the configuration of the field. Paging Kelvin Ayala? The economic development consultant ran a strong primary race against incumbent State Rep. Antonio Felipe in 2020. Does he run for that seat again or seek state senate?
Former three-term Stratford Town Councilman Dave Harden is expected to enter the race officially early this month.
Bridgeport’s other State Senator Marilyn Moore is being encouraged by liberal supporters to seek a state constitutional office. Going for lieutenant governor would require a primary against incumbent Susan Bysiewicz. Comptroller is now an open seat following the announcement by Kevin Lembo he’ll not seek another term due to illness. Connecticut secretary of the state is also open with a crowded field already announced.
If Moore eschews the entreaties for a constitutional office run, she’ll be a prohibitive favorite to claim another two years for the state senate seat she won in 2014, with 2023 a mayoral cycle. She nearly captured the office in 2019.
Look for Mayor Joe Ganim to gear up his fundraising machine early this year to pack a warchest against potential challengers next year. He’s in better shape today than four years ago with his dubious run for governor, but reelection is not a foregone conclusion.
Why better? He’ll not raise taxes the next two years. He’s playing Santa Claus with millions of federal dollars parceled to an assortment of businesses, groups, nonprofits, social institutions. The amphitheater’s an early success. Downtown has a brighter face. The Cherry Street Lofts project has lifted up the West End. The Congress Street bridge replacement, with financing in place, is scheduled to begin this year.
Caveats exist for Ganim, particularly the Police Department. The city is expected to announce a national search for top cop this month coming off the fallout of AJ Perez’s federal conviction for cheating the test in 2018.
Ganim cannot afford blunders in this search. He must let the process play out and await the three finalists short-listed by the selection committee, as required by the City Charter. He’ll likely appoint a new chief this summer, depending on the timeline established by the city.
Ganim must be uber transparent in the nuts and bolts of the selection process with reelection on the horizon in 2023.
Meanwhile strap in for 2022 and a potentially wild political year.