When Ernie Newton lost a close Democratic primary for State Senate in August he said he wasn’t going away. “Redemption & Opportunity,” a documentary capturing the final days of Newton’s campaign to make a political comeback after serving several years on corruption charges, is scheduled to premiere October 24 at the Bijou Theatre on Fairfield Avenue downtown, according to the film’s producer Vinny Mangiacopra who served as a strategist for Newton’s race.
“We need redemption as people, to rise up and take back our communities to save our kids,” Newton explained on the campaign trail. “That’s what the redemption piece means, more than for myself, it means for a community. We need to be engaged, we need to love one another, help one another.”
Newton shocked the state political establishment in May by capturing the Democratic endorsement in Connecticut’s 23rd Senatorial District occupied by Ed Gomes. State Rep. Andres Ayala, backed by Mayor Bill Finch and the majority of his political operation, defeated Newton, who ran a close second, and Gomes in the August 14th primary. The district includes about 70 percent of Bridgeport and a portion of western Stratford. Newton had represented the district prior to corruption charges that forced him from office.
Mangiacopra, president of The Preferred Group, says the film strikes an important message that needs to be heard. “Within all of the millions of dollars being spent on political campaigning, you hear very little about how leaders are going to make life better for people in these types of communities,” Mangiacopra said, referring to the poverty-stricken areas of the senate district. “Our story tells the tale of the desperate need for redemption and opportunities for communities that were once great, filled with neighborhood pride and jobs, but are now riddled by violence and poverty. Ernie’s campaign was about risking all of the public scrutiny in order to shine a light on what’s taking place in our streets.”
The film chronicles the final four days of the campaign through sit-down interviews, campaign events, strategy sessions, personal stories and receiving results primary night. The only thing missing for Newton was victory, but he says his comeback is a work in progress.
Mangiacopra has served as a political strategist and operative for a number of local and regional campaigns including Congressman Jim Himes and Probate Judge Paul Ganim. He was raised in Bridgeport, graduated from Notre Dame Catholic High School in Fairfield and received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science from Sacred Heart University. He also received a Masters Degree in Public Administration with a Concentration in City Management from the University of New Haven.
For more check out www.thepreferredgroup.org.