Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch has a five-point lead over former Mayor Joe Ganim while Mary-Jane Foster has picked up ground on Finch in an OIB poll conducted by the Merriman River Group this week. Finch has large leads over two other Democratic opponents.
Merriman River www.merrimanriver.com screened more than 500 registered Democrats Sunday May 1 and Monday May 2 who said they were likely to vote in a September primary. The pool of Democratic voters came from those who voted in the November 2007 mayoral election. Among likely voters, Finch leads Ganim 42 percent to 37 percent in a head-to-head match-up (the remaining percentage unsure or prefer another candidate) while Finch leads Foster, co-founder of the Bridgeport Bluefish baseball team, 45 percent to 30 percent.
OIB also measured two other announced Democratic challengers. Finch leads John Gomes, who served as deputy chief administrative officer under Finch, 53 percent to 21 percent. Finch also leads former mayoral candidate Charlie Coviello 60 percent to 13 percent.
OIB measured Ganim even though he’s not an official candidate for mayor. The former mayor for several weeks had acted like a candidate moving around the city meeting with political operatives and showing his face at a variety of events. In recent weeks he has lowered his profile, perhaps an indication he’d not become a candidate. The results show there is still some nostalgia for Ganim, mayor from November 1991 to April 2003, after serving six years in prison following his conviction on federal corruption charged in 2003.
What does all this mean? Finch, who has amassed a mighty reelection warchest, is still in decent shape but cannot take anything for granted. He will continue to leverage the power of incumbency in an effort to position his reelection campaign this summer. For Foster, who officially announced her candidacy three weeks ago with a message focused on jobs, this showing represents her best performance in three OIB polls. Taking out a well-financed incumbent such as Finch will not be easy and Foster must continue to raise money as well as her public profile to continue building prestige with voters. If she fails to remain visible she will fall back.
As for Gomes and Coviello, both are money challenged and they’re going to need a rich uncle, a major issue or a thinner primary field to gain ground.
Merriman River has conducted public opinion polls for OIB since 2009. It was the only pollster to call Dan Malloy’s gubernatorial primary win over Ned Lamont. It also called the gubernatorial race between Malloy and his Republican opponent Tom Foley a dead heat in the days before the 2010 general election. The Merriman poll has a margin of error of four points.
Wednesday: What happens in a big field? The results may surprise you. And key issues.