UPDATE: Word is Lamont and SuBy have cut a deal with her taking lieutenant governor slot. This places extreme pressure on Ganim to drop out of race.
Nearly two weeks into a six-week process hunting Connecticut signatures, Mayor Joe Ganim’s campaign for governor reports it has collected nearly 7,000 hancocks in the battle to secure 15,458 certified signatures of Democratic registered voters Ganim needs by June 12 to qualify for the August ballot. Ganim is also trying to qualify for the ballot on Saturday at the state party convention where he’ll need 15 percent delegate support. The signature campaign is a backup plan.
Ganim operatives have fanned out across Bridgeport, New Haven, Hartford, Waterbury, New Britain and West Haven to bank signatures in high-density residential areas. Public housing projects are good for this sort of thing. Shopping centers bad because you don’t know what you’re getting there. This is an extremely labor-intensive process that requires a tight organizational effort.
It appeared the campaign had gotten off to a scratchy signature start the first week, but has picked up the pace with Ganim himself rallying operatives to the task. If the operation does maintain this pace it will provide a cushion of a few thousands signatures needed to account for those disqualified by elections officials. The petition sheets will be returned to the respective town clerk offices then forwarded to the Connecticut Secretary of the State for review and certification.
Heading into the state convention Greenwich entrepreneur Ned Lamont is the favorite for the endorsement with former Connecticut Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz next in line for the delegate hunt. Both the Ganim and Bysiewicz operations believe the larger the field the better for their candidates.
If the Ganim campaign petitions onto the ballot successfully, the signature drive provides a voter list it can woo for the August primary.
Ganim is trying to position himself as an outsider in the race, something that could play better outside Bridgeport.
“These strong petition numbers reflect that Democratic voters do not want their candidate to be selected by party insiders,” said Ganim in a campaign statement. “While some campaigns are built from the top down, ours is a diverse, inclusive campaign built from the ground up. Our grassroots campaign is fueled by hundreds of enthusiastic supporters who have fanned out across Connecticut collecting signatures, along with registering hundreds of new voters. Either with the support of 15 percent of the delegates at the Democratic convention on Saturday or through our robust petition effort, we will be on the August primary ballot to give Democratic voters a real choice, not a candidate coronated by party insiders.”
A huge challenge for Ganim is money. Petitioning drives are not cheap. Ganim is raising money the old-fashioned way via large-dollar donations because his 2003 felony conviction precludes him from accessing Connecticut’s public financing program that avails $1.2 million for a qualified primary candidate, a route Bysiewicz is pursuing while Lamont is relying on his self-funding wealth.
Ganim has raised roughly $600,000. If he makes the August primary ballot and continues at the same fundraising pace, his spend-down in the final few months will not be nearly as strong as Lamont and Bysiewicz, presuming a three-way primary.
The question is, how much does Ganim need in the final months to compete?