Less than six weeks from primaries for governor; is anyone engaged other than candidates, party insiders and political junkies? In 2010, the last time Democrats had a two-way primary race for governor, party-endorsed Dan Malloy defeated Ned Lamont. The state turnout, according to statistics posted on the Connecticut Secretary of the State website, was about 25 percent with the following results, Malloy 103,154, Lamont 77,772.
In Bridgeport, with then-Mayor Bill Finch and Democratic Town Chair Mario Testa supporting Lamont, the spread was close 2,971 for Lamont to Malloy’s 2,928. The city turnout was about 15 percent. The race was close, irrespective of Lamont’s establishment support because the majority of Bridgeport’s state legislative delegation backed Malloy.
Lamont is back, this time as the endorsed candidate challenged by Mayor Joe Ganim, clearly in the underdog role who’ll be outspent heavily. It’s up to the candidates to inspire voters to the polls with messaging and rhetoric backed by a ground operation to drag voters out in sleepy primaries. Ganim needs a few major breaks in the next five weeks to pose a serious threat to Lamont, a likable plutocrat who enjoys wealth and party establishment support to churn out a vote. Doesn’t mean the Lamont campaign is taking this primary for granted against a skilled retail politician.
The other day it was disclosed the Lamont operation was reviewing for irregularities the signatures of the petition drive Ganim achieved to make the primary ballot. Ganim’s the first Democrat to qualify for the ballot for governor this way since the state ushered in the direct primary process about 15 years ago. Prior to that it was a complete insider’s game to make the ballot based solely on convention support. How Lamont goes after Ganim requires strategic nuance. The last thing you want to convey to the public in this type of race is Ganim’s a threat. Lamont’s operation, creating the impression a review of the signatures for irregularities could knock Ganim off the ballot, does just that. They’re handing Ganim a favor.
Why is Lamont afraid of Joe Ganim?
Unless something kooky happens in this primary Lamont shouldn’t say anything about Ganim. Just do his own thing and keep lines of communication open with the campaign. Lamont going after Ganim’s past in urban areas would be a fatal mistake. He’ll need those second-chance voters in the general election. What is open season to question–if Lamont feels Ganim’s gaining too close for comfort–is picking apart Ganim’s government record since his return to office in 2015.
John Stoehr, a fellow at the Yale Journalism Initiative and a New Haven resident, published this commentary in the New Haven Register focused on how party-endorsed candidates Lamont and Republican Mark Boughton react to opponents.
Front-runner Ned Lamont is facing two rivals, one directly and one indirectly. Bridgeport’s Joe Ganim, the direct rival, got enough signatures to qualify for the primary next month. As I noted two weeks ago in this space, the ex-con mayor of the state’s largest city looks strong relative to Lamont. He has a clear base–city-dwelling liberal Democrats–and a story of redemption. Lamont has neither. What he does have is a reason to be nervous.
Turns out I was right. Lamont is indeed nervous. His attorneys are poring over each and every signature, looking for discrepancies and ways to knock Ganim out of the primary. Lamont is far and way the most likely winner of the Democratic primary. So all of this can be seen in two ways. One, Lamont cautious and not taking risks. Two, he is so weak a man once convicted of corruption is threatening.
I don’t know the answer. Really. If you do, let me know.
Full story here.