Opponent temptation on a purely political level justifies ridiculing Mayor Joe Ganim in light of the latest shootings, considering his campaign assault on Bill Finch a year ago following spikes in violent crime. There’s also a big difference. When violence occurred a year ago Finch was more interested in trotting out the latest crime stats than addressing the immediacy of the victims. African American voters, in particular, recoiled at the incumbent reciting lower crime info in an election year than showing concern on their behalf.
Yes, Ganim has ballyhooed lower crime stats including comparatively lower five murders this year from the last, but what he has not done is posture defensively, as Finch had, every time violent crime had forced Finch in front of a camera. Oh, Finch said over and over crime has never been lower. Really? Another person shot and Finch preened things were better.
In fact, in June of 2015, the day following the horrific shooting in Trumbull Gardens, Finch was scheduled to formally announce his candidacy for another four-year term at Captain’s Cove Seaport. Everything was set in place, the invitations, the balloons, the party operatives, the handouts, the big-ticket contributors to glorify things getting better every day. Ganim was like a chihuahua biting at Finch’s heels, showing up at every violent crime event showing concern. Finch’s campaign team just didn’t get it. But then two hours before Finch’s scheduled announcement his Chief of Staff Adam Wood told the mayor it would be nuts to announce his candidacy a day after nine people were shot. Finch pushed back: so what? Let’s do it anyway. Wood pushed back harder. Okay, Wood responded, here’s the narrative. While you’re announcing for mayor asking for votes and money, Ganim will be conducting vigils throughout the city on behalf of the victims. The announcement is off. Otherwise your mayoralty is finished.
Duh, Finch responded, now that you put it that way …
Finch’s mayoralty would indeed end in a September primary, but he lost to Ganim largely on the law enforcement issue, particularly in precincts where African American voters believed their mayor did not care about them.
Good, bad or ugly more than a decade ago, I had the privilege of serving as campaign strategist for both Joe Ganim and Bill Finch. Governmentally, they both have their strengths and weaknesses: Finch, an incurable policy wonk with extravagant ideas; Ganim, a relentless negotiator who doesn’t like you knowing what he’s thinking.
Often, violent crime is beyond a mayor’s control.
Here’s a major difference between the two: Finch could rarely step outside of himself wondering what the electorate was thinking. Ganim has the sensible ability to understand it’s never smart to cite crime stats in the face of neighborhood violence.