How The Finchies Saved Andres Ayala

Other than losing, of course, the one thing Andres Ayala and Mayor Bill Finch’s operatives supporting him for State Senate wanted to avoid on Tuesday was losing on the machines to Ernie Newton. Yes, they had a cushion with more than 400 absentee ballots in the bank but losing on the machines only to be saved by absentee ballots would have caused Newton forces to unload prehistoric noises of protests. “They stole it. They cheated.” They did this and that. It almost happened. Ayala won on the machines by fewer than 150 votes.

From the start of the campaign the Ayala forces believed Newton, not incumbent Ed Gomes, was the one to beat. Their voter ID showed consistently that Newton had strength largely in the East End and other pockets of the city as well as the Stratford portion of the district. Had they lost to Newton on the machines they’d have to listen to the meows of illegitimacy. (Think Bush-Gore 2000. Bushy loses the popular vote but wins on that idiotic electoral vote process.) Just in case, the Ayala team unleashed a potent absentee ballot operation led by the city’s queen of absentee ballots City Councilwoman Lydia Martinez and former State Rep. Americo Santiago who served as campaign director. Finch operatives were helping but it was Americo’s show. Americo has a skill set in campaigns but it’s usually Americo’s way or the highway. Finch operatives stayed just close enough in case Americo blew a flat along the way.

Finch’s political organization includes a collection of operatives handling message, strategy, fundraising, voter ID, door knocking and voter turnout. Some of them are on the city payroll, some of them are turnout pros who show up when Finch needs them. You start primary day with a list of vote supporters and check them off as they vote. The ones that haven’t voted you unload with phone calls, door knocks, rides, manna from heaven if you must, but get them to vote.

After nearly five years as mayor Finch et al. have figured out where they can generally persuade enough votes to deliver the candidate they support. As the morning hours passed on Tuesday and the turnout was a pathetic nightmare, the Finchies could see this slipping away. Jesus, we have to listen to Newton cackling for the next two years! Can’t have that.

By midday it was “Americo … Americo … this thing is slipping away. Where are you channeling your resources? Not there. Over here. We have to run up wins at Hooker and Beardsley, all those new voters in the district … have they voted yet? Marin School is falling short. Unload everything to get them there.” In campaigns you fish where the fish are.

Sometimes just a few campaign operatives can make a difference. Had Finch et al. not stepped up for Andres Ayala, they’d be hearing it good and hard from Ernie Newton. Ayala can thank Finch and company for sparing him the noise.

And just think how the results would have been different had Democratic leaders in Hartford not carved thousands of residents from the Wilbur Cross precinct into the adjoining State Senate district. Newton likely would have won.

Check out the unofficial machine totals below:

                    NEWTON AYALA GOMES

Dunbar              304     71    112
JFK                 149    167     83
Harding             177    118     74
Beardsley            27     48     22
Hallen              124     90    105
Hooker              104    158    113
Read                 15     46     32
Johnson              84    118     66
Marin                89    317     50
Central              35     35     45
Barnum               80    170     38
Bassick              78     76     67
Battalia             89    127     44
City Hall            30     59     29
Franklin             16     13     15
Johnson House       153     79    157

Total machine      1554   1692   1052


  1. *** I’m reading about the “Finchies” saving the day here but can you tell us just “what exactly” they did and who did it there, Lennie? Maybe too much credit besides the usual AB wave is being given over a 15% voter turnout, no? Talk to me Homie! *** Enlightenment Needed! ***

  2. How The Grim One aka Lennie Grimaldi saved his own ass:

    During the primary, The Grim One refused to make predictions so as to not jeopardize any incoming ad revenue. Putting money before politics is a questionable strategy. But the minute the campaign is over and the ad revenue stops, the charges, predictions and pontifications resume. That’s what we do here, right? Not by coincidence, the initial charges are aimed at the winner of the primary who never advertised here. You even use a derogatory term to describe The Mayor who helped Adres Ayala but did not assure his victory. Ayala is already a sitting member of the General Assembly and brought his own resources and tactics to the campaign.

    1. Local Eyes is in la-la land. Ad revenue had nothing to do with it. Pols don’t advertise out of the goodness of their hearts. They advertise because they want to reach voters. I wrote several stories why Andres Ayala could win and every story pointed out he had Finch’s political organization behind him. Without that he does not win. Newton wins. Ayala’s legislative base alone was not enough to win. Kudos to Finch and company. They backed Ayala and he won.

  3. What a “fairy tale.” Look, let’s get real here. Everybody knows State Senator Ed Gomes does not like the Finchies and they don’t like him, that’s where it starts, how do they get rid of Gomes. Gomes goes into the hospital for his heart and while he’s in the hospital the State re-draws the voting district of Gomes to try to protect State Senator Musto and they give Musto the voters who are the core base of Ed Gomes. What better way to get rid of Gomes, no one from the State, not Finch, not Testa, no one from Bridgeport fought to protect Ed Gomes. The Finchies now know there are two candidates who they hate running for the senate seat. Well, they can get rid of two problems by running a Latino. Problem solved, let the two black candidates split the black vote then they can get the Latino candidate elected. That State Senate seat had been a black seat from the time Mrs. Morton got elected, then Alvin Penn, Newton and now Gomes. The black “elected” leadership and those black leaders who are involved with the Democratic Party in Bridgeport said nothing and did nothing to protect that state senate seat for the black community. Newton became the best candidate to run for a three-way split, that was the Finchies’ true plan.

  4. There was a concerted effort by Finch & Company along with Malloy and the leaders of the legislature to get Ayala elected.
    They redistricted a good portion of black voters out of Gomes’ district and put them in Musto’s district. Taking the black vote out of the equation also hurt Newton. You leave the district alone and the results may have been different.
    I would say Finch pulled out all the stops at Hooker; we had City Attorney Anastasi working the polls for five hours. Mark was replaced by Finch toadie Mike Marrella. I wonder how many other top politicians worked the polls around the city.

      1. “Likely” is a weak prediction. La-la land is a tourist destination. When it comes to politics in Bridgeport, I’m not a tourist!

        Where the rubber meets the road is my kinda location.

        1. “Where the rubber meets the road is my kinda location,” as in leaving the scene of an accident or crime, perhaps? Were you there, L.E.? What did you really see that indicates you are “not a tourist?”
          Perhaps you meant where the head meets a padded wall in which case your comments would indicate where you are a guest (not a tourist), and make some sense of your ‘away from the subject’ postings.
          What map and directions are used to get to ‘la-la land?’ Time will tell.

          1. Streets of fire are not for tourists. If you can’t create your own roadmap, you might get lost. Besides, you ask too many questions to be taken seriously.

            Skidmarks are often found where rubber meets the road. Vrooooooom!

  5. Enough is enough!
    How can we protect our families from drugs, drug gangs and street killers when the police Narcotics department is infiltrated with drug users?

    It’s time for Chief Joseph Gaudett to step down, and the Mayor of this City to pick a new Chief, and turn the police department over to the State Police asap.

    The safety of the people of Bridgeport should come first and foremost, the last thing this City needs is an incompetent Police Chief and Police Department.

  6. Lennie, thank you, you make my point, the Finchies’ plan was to make sure neither Newton nor Gomes could win so they supported and agreed to make sure the district lines were changed. Jimfox, I agree with you but once again this is the Finchies’ decision, they rehire the police chief then they let him retire so he can draw his pension and paycheck as police chief at the same time thereby paying him $250,000 a year. The Finchies could have done a nationwide search for a new police chief who has a record of dealing with crimes of guns and gangs and who has a vision.

  7. Lennie,
    Talked to one voter on election day who was quite concerned she was getting sued!!!
    Seems in the middle of the day her caller ID said she had an incoming call from the prestigious law firm of Pullman Comely.
    But not to worry. It was only a call from the Ayala camp reminding her to get out to vote.
    Shouldn’t that be an illegal in-kind donation from a business?
    Oh that’s right, it is!

  8. *** When the changes in the redistricting lines were being discussed from beginning to end, little flack came from either Gomes or his partner Musto in the Senate, no? Also, just because a political seat is held for years by a particular party or race, etc. does not make it an “automatic” private must seat; that’s why there are democratic elections! However, in my opinion the redistricting lines change, the lack of real substance improvements in the 23rd district, and lackluster campaign slow start by Gomes & Co. along with low voter turnout all can be reasons for Gomes’ defeat! The Peeps Spoke Loud and Clear; “no past,” “no present,” time for change in hopes of moving forward towards the future! ***

  9. When the Trumbull/Bridgeport district was redrawn, it was about securing a seat for Democrats. Any Democrat. Musto has friends but it wasn’t done for him. Gomes has friends and enemies but it wasn’t about him either. God knows it wasn’t done for Newton. It was a decision made for the long-term security of the seat for Democrats.
    As for Ayala’s win, never underestimate the resolve of the Democratic machine. It is a well-oiled machine that knows exactly how, when and where to turn out votes. Finch didn’t want egg on his face, wanted to block Newton and has a grudge against Gomes and so they turned it on … and they won. Unless something very extraordinary happens, they will win the BOE elections and Charter Revision questions too. There will be a “vote for us” turnout that is really something. It will be a litmus test for jobs, grants and access. Given the bullying tactics and threats, my bet is opposition will be totally squelched. And if they win (Finch, thugs et al.), the canary in the birdcage will have sung for the democratic process in Bridgeport for the last time. Or at least until Finch is defeated or they are all thrown in jail for the frauds they are.


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