Yes, let the games begin. Democratic Party Chairman Mario Testa will have his hands full tonight trying to sort out, fend off and chill out the children of his party casting endorsement votes on behalf of city candidates seeking state legislative seats.
The one race that may yet prove most operatic in the Democratic songbook is City Councilman Carlos Silva’s challenge of State Rep. Chris Caruso. Caruso has a long history of telling party leaders to go punt and, like so many candidates these days, doesn’t need the party endorsement to win a primary. He is arguably the most popular politician in the city within his respective legislative district. And, no, he has not been damaged in his legislative district by his futile effort to overturn his 270-vote primary loss to Bill Finch last September.
But there seems to be a sense that Caruso’s doing a little more reaching out than his history shows, sorta like, okay, if you give me the endorsement I’ll take it. He’s even making calls to district leaders about it. But it may be a little late. Silva has lined up a bunch of commitments that has put him at or over the party endorsement threshold.
Testa has a long history of butting heads with Caruso, but I’m sensing the town chairman isn’t eager to fight with Caruso. He seems more interested in raising money and mending party splits than throwing himself into ugly primaries. That does not mean that Mario’s going to break bones to avoid primaries. Not worth it when the goal is to restore some party peace, never easy in Bridgeport. Still, Democratic operatives such as Lisa Honey Parziale, the former City Council President, that helped return Testa to power, are leaning on the town chairman to deliver the endorsement to Caruso. Parziale supported Caruso for mayor. Honey, when the doors are shut and windows closed, is not the subtlest politician in the city. “Listen, honey,” she’ll say in so many words, “I’ll hook up jumper cables to your balls if you don’t make this happen!”
Ouch. I wonder if Mario will wear a cup tonight.
The recap of other endorsement votes scheduled tonight include Auden Grogins versus State Rep. Bob Keeley, Lydia Martinez versus State Rep. Andres Ayala and that wildly competitive field to fill the seat being vacated by State Rep. Felipe Reinoso. South End District Leader Mitch “The Switch” Robles has lined up the votes for City Councilman Eze Santiago. But, hold on a minute, say Chico Rivera, Sly Salcedo and Keith Cougar Rodgerson. We’re going to primary. And then there’s Hector Diaz. Will Hector jump in to reclaim his old seat?
And speaking of Hector, Black Rock District Leader Danny Roach is looking for you!
Trumbull Town Treasurer Anthony Musto received unanimous delegate support Monday night in winning the Democratic Party endorsement for state senate. Marilyn Moore, a former legislative assistant to Bridgeport State Sen. Ed Gomes, says she will hustle the 1,000 or so signatures from registered Democrats in the district required to get her name on the ballot for an Aug. 12 primary. The 22nd senate district occupied by Republican Rob Russo covers Trumbull and parts of Bridgeport and Monroe.
See excerpt of Musto convention speech below:
Now, I know this is the first step in a job interview. I am asking you to let me be your voice in the state senate. So I need to tell you why I am qualified for the job. On the land acquisition committee I worked to preserving open space and community character. On the capital improvements committee I worked with bankers to determine the financial and tax effects of bonding scenarios. On the pension board I evaluating investments and sought solutions for funding problems. I have served briefly on the council and currently my second term a Treasurer, managing the town’s money to maximize income, lower taxes and reduce costs.
But while these positions may sound important, they don’t tell you why I am running.
I’m running because people…have families to support. Bills to pay. We all worry about our finances and our children’s futures. We all want safe neighborhoods, clean water, and a strong economy. We all talk to our friends and neighbors about affordable health insurance, lower taxes and good schools. And I am running for this office because I want these things too, for myself, my district and my state.
We all have children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews or even just neighbors who we love and who we want to have the best possible education. I know it’s difficult to come home after working all day and check homework, pack lunches, get the kids up and on the bus in the morning, but we do it because it is important. I’m one of the parents who are concerned about class sizes, extracurricular activities, safety, and discipline. My wife is a speech therapist at the middle school, she and other teachers all tell me that early education and disability intervention is the most important thing you can do to help children succeed, lower overall costs and reduce future problems. I know what people are talking about when they say they take time out of their schedule, because I flip pancakes, make pasta and set up for movie night to raise money for the school, and I can tell you one thing – the PTA should not have to hold a bake sale to buy books.
I know how important affordable healthcare and insurance is to people. All three of my children have been in the hospital for various reasons, and the bills would have forced us to borrow money from family or bankrupted us. Even the insurance is expensive, and when I lost my job and started my own business we had to make choices about what insurance to buy and how to pay for it. People avoiding doctors and filling our emergency rooms is not an answer – it just hurts the sick, raises taxpayer costs lowers societal health as a whole. With our parents and grandparents aging and prices of drugs and medical care rising we need to make sure that everyone has access to the kind of preventive and critical healthcare that should be available to the people of the richest state in the richest country in the world.
Now all this isn’t to say we can afford to have everything we want. I know what people mean when they say government should be run like a business, but Connecticut can’t just close up shop like Enron or sell off Fairfield County like GE is dropping its appliance division. The State has far more important obligations to its members than any business does. We protect each other, educate our young, support our elderly, and care for our sick and our poor. But we also watch our pennies. We all pay taxes, and none of us like it, and we all want to make sure that we are getting the most for our money. We all pay the rising costs of electricity, oil, gas, and insurance, and those whose income is fixed cannot always afford it. Our towns pay these things too, and we need to make sure that the state is going to do its part to take care of our family here in the 22nd district.