Marilyn Moore’s primary win over incumbent State Senator Anthony Musto places her against Republican Town Councilman Rick Costantini, an attorney with roots in Bridgeport, in the November general election. While the candidates bring party support bases to the table, the city-suburban district includes roughly 20,000 unaffiliated voters who can swing the difference.
Connecticut’s 22nd Senate District has a history of swinging back and forth from Republican to Democrat. Thirty years ago the seat was occupied by Democrat Howard Owens who was defeated by Republican Lee Scarpetti in 1984. Owens came back to best her two years later. Two years later in 1988, Scarpetti defeated Owens and she retained the seat until Bill Finch defeated her in 2000, a seat Finch relinquished after he was elected mayor in 2007. Republican Rob Russo won a special election in March 2008. He was defeated by Musto in the Barack Obama landslide in Bridgeport in November 2008.
Whether facing Musto or Moore in the general election, Costantini should wage a competitive challenge if he qualifies for Connecticut’s public financing program, given the dynamics of the race. The Democratic candidate historically has been rescued by turnouts in Bridgeport. But there is a question about an enthusiasm gap regarding city voters in the upcoming general election. Moore’s campaign operation certainly will bring out more Democrats in Bridgeport, but she is largely unknown to Trumbull unaffiliated voters, the largest voting bloc in town. Costantini as well must introduce himself to district voters.
In addition, there’s the specter of blogger Jonathan Pelto’s possible presence as a petitioning candidate in November. He has a number of followers in Bridgeport opposed to Governor Dan Malloy’s education policies that could poach votes from Malloy. Also, Republican Tom Foley claims he will have an urban agenda to share this November that could also attract some unaffiliated voters in the city. Will it be more than lip service?
Statement from Costantini:
I want to congratulate Marilyn on her victory in the Democratic Primary. She ran a tough race against an established incumbent and now we can focus on the general election and the issues facing Connecticut.
As someone who has lived in this District my entire life, and has roots in all three communities, I was surprised to read Marilyn’s comments upon winning the primary that she has crossed “the biggest hurdle” and that she is “going to take back what belongs to Bridgeport.” The 22nd State Senate seat belongs to the people of Bridgeport in addition to the people of Monroe and Trumbull. This approach of setting Connecticut’s towns against each other has gone on for far too long. The municipalities of the 22nd Senate District must work together to ensure that ALL of its residents thrive and prosper. Your State Senator should be a bridge between these communities.
As a product of all three communities, I understand the specific challenges facing residents here. Every year more and more families are struggling to stay in Connecticut and make ends meet. From a failing economy to roads rated worst in the country, Connecticut is broken. The biggest hurdle is solving these problems. The solution is not to pit Bridgeport against Monroe and Trumbull, but rather to foster relationships that will allow these communities to succeed.
The time to rebuild Connecticut starts now.