Minister Might! Rev. Stallworth Wins Special Election

UPDATE: The Rev. Charlie Stallworth, aided by the might of the Greater Bridgeport Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance, won the special election Tuesday to fill the state legislative seat vacated by Chris Caruso who took a job with the Malloy administration. Bridgeport police officer Verna Kearney, led by backers of Caruso, finished second. Stallworth won by 99 votes pending count of absentee ballots, according to Democratic Registrar of Voters Sandi Ayala who said the turnout in Connecticut’s 126th State Assembly District was roughly 10 percent.

Absentee ballots were not a factor in this race. Only 44 absentee ballots were returned. Stallworth, with 460 total paper ballot votes, won Wilbur Cross, Hallen and Hooker precincts. Kearney, with 361 total paper ballot votes, won Read School and Park City Magnet. Former State Rep. Bob Keeley finished a distant third with 184 total votes from the five precincts in the legislative district that includes portions of the North End and Upper East Side.

Stallworth, pastor of the East End Tabernacle Baptist Church and a member of the city’s Police Commission, won the backing of Democratic Town Chair Mario Testa and Mayor Bill Finch. The work of the ministerial alliance, a group of city clergy long active in city elections, was key to Stallworth’s success, especially in a low turnout. Ministers urged their flock to support one of their own in the weeks heading into the special election, and the Wilbur Cross precinct was key to the turnout success. Many voters in that North End area worship in the East End. Stallworth, as the endorsed Democrat in the race had the top line with “Democratic” next to his name. All the other candidates, except Republican James Keyser, had “Petitioning Candidate” next to their names. Perhaps vote top line Democrat was enough to put Stallworth over the top. Stallworth was also the only candidate to apply and receive public financing, giving him a large spending edge over the other candidates.

The ministers, Testa and Finch can feel good about this win. But within a loss the Caruso forces looking to deliver Verna Kearney won two precincts out of the five. That is something to build upon for the forces opposed to Testa and Finch. Stallworth received 460 votes out of 1263 total cast in the special election, roughly 36 percent of the overall vote in a seven-candidate field. Another way of looking at this is that the anti-party vote was split up allowing Stallworth’s victory.

Other petitioning candidates in the race were Mark Trojanowski, Carlos Silva and Tom Lombard.



  1. All the candidates deserve a huge round of applause. They all worked hard and each would have been a good leader in their own right. Congratulations to the Rev. Stallworth. May he help the city through these very troubling financial times.

    Perhaps the city can move forward with fresh names and fresh faces and the voices of the past can contribute through their efforts in the private sector and give the mama tit a rest.

  2. Lennie, I am not sure Mario and Finch should feel that great about the results at Hooker. The Rev Stallworth was the highest vote getter there with 91 votes but you have to look at the overall vote. There were 213 people who did not vote for the party-endorsed candidate. So before the parade starts they had better figure those numbers out. I wonder what the numbers were for Stallworth and the other candidates at the other schools. Is there a similar count? Lennie, you and others can interpret numbers better than I can. What do you think?

    1. I agree TC. The anti vote was split among too many candidates. That’s how the Rev got in. It was not an overwhelming show of support by any means. Let this be a lesson learned so we don’t repeat it this year. The next election is much more important to our future than this one.

  3. tc, if you add up all the totals, Stallworth had 473.

    If you add all the other totals together, 362 was split between the other people running for state Rep. not including the Republican who had 82 votes.

  4. If memory serves me right, the East End Baptist Church under the leadership of Reverend Vernon Thompson helped Ganim get elected in 1991. Remember the whole Mt. Trashmore thing?

  5. I don’t know a thing about Reverend Stallworth. All I have heard has been favorable which gives me pause. The Reverend was handpicked by El Squid and endorsed by the fools of the DTC and openly supported by possibly the worst mayor in the history of mayors anywhere. Why would this gaggle of self-interested sycophants select a good guy?

    The frightening fact that emerged from last night’s election is that voter apathy is still very much in existence. The suffering people of Bridgeport who moan that change must happen won’t get off their asses and get out and vote. We are, therefore, condemned to Calamarian rule forever. Gomes and Foster must address getting people out to vote or they will be unsuccessful in their respective quests regardless of the nobleness of their cause.

    I make no secret that I want an end to everything that has made this town “the armpit of Connecticut” (a la Paul Newman). I firmly believe we earned that reputation because we citizens allowed calamarian rule by not seeking more suitable leadership and actually going to the polls to demonstrate our resolve to make change. Shame on us.

    Ernest “T” is a prime example of all that is bad with Bridgeport. While I have scoffed at his bravado claims of electability; I, now, suggest he could, indeed, emerge successfully.

    Does Ernest “T” deserve to be returned to elected office? Absolutely not. He has been adjudged to be a thief. He stole from the pockets of the very people who could sweep him back into office. Shameful.

    Whatever office he chooses to seek, the demands of duty will greatly exceed his capacity to succeed. Popularity is simply not sufficient to ensure the right person is elected to do the job.

    He offers nothing more than “I was the first this and the first that.” Do we forget he is allegedly also the first to suffer a convulsion on the legislative floor?

    Sadly, my point is this. Unless the good people of Bridgeport recognize that nothing can change unless the entire voting public gets out and votes, we are destined to suffer the same indignities that have been forced upon us by a very well orchestrated calamarian control of the vote. Yes, that means Ernest “T” and Moonbeam can continue in a public office for which neither are suited.

    1. “Armpit of Connecticut” If I’m not mistaken he said that during Curran or Panuzio’s term. It was a foolish comment on his part (if indeed, he did say it) … at that time Bridgeport was doing well with employment opportunities everywhere and a budget that most likely was in the black. I don’t think he was too sympathetic for “urban” causes.

  6. I would like to start off by publicly offering my best wishes to Rev. Stallworth on his new journey. I would like to also thank all the other candidates I had the opportunity to meet and debate on the issues facing our town. You were all true gentlemen.

    I ran this race to win against all odds. I also ran to make my name known in the city. I can claim success on the 2nd goal. I will continue my grassroots activism in Bridgeport and in Connecticut as a whole. I hope to advocate the small yet powerful conservative voice in Bridgeport. Thanks to all that prayed for and supported me.

  7. I heard or read about some of the people who came out to support a candidate in the 126th special election. For example, I read about the Reverend from New Haven who came down to help Rev. Stallworth and his encounter with Ed Gomes. While I was at Thomas Hooker, I noticed a car with a license plate from the 95th legislative district, the district helped by my late friend Rep. Martinez. I spoke with the Rep. from the 95th and I stated I assumed he was there supporting Carlos Silva which he confirmed. I have traveled to other parts of the state to help other candidates and have never been confronted by residents or elected officials from the district. I feel Ed Gomes would have done a better service to Kearney if he made sure Chris Caruso was doing his part to get his supporters to come out and support Kearney. I did not see or hear about Caruso being at any of the schools. Considering a 10% turnout, I conclude Caruso did very little to nothing.

  8. OK Lennie, I owe you two cents. I can’t believe it was only a 10 percent turnout– even in February–with so many candidates that have or have had some connection to the political process.

    So give the Rev his props. Also give his organizers their due: The Alliance; and yes, the mayor and Mario.

    A political machine does what it has to do to win. If a 10 percent turnout is all that is needed, there you have it. At only 10 percent total, I doubt there was much of a pull vote. Any insight, Lennie?

    If this is an advent contest for the mayoral, the mayor and Mario win Round One.

    If I am the opposition right now the only thing I’ve really found out is that I am not organized. This was only five precincts. In September it is 25 precincts.


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