OIB Poll: Finch, Ganim Run Close; Foster Picks Up Ground

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.



  1. B2 made a point of the many faces of corruption that can and have taken place. I would like to point out this may also occur when there is a one-party system, which exists in Bridgeport. When an honest politician ever gets into office they may also consider term limits for all offices elected or appointed which have to do with any financial aspect with the city. Given the fact Ganim is so close to the top and is a convicted felon, voter apathy cannot be blamed. It is either the kindred spirit or blissful ignorance that has the people with this psychological attitude.

      1. Tom Lombard is right, start with the fact Bridgeport has no jobs.
        Casinos with off-track betting, table games only casinos and (Sports book parlors) along with Hotels/ Entertainment centers would bring in thousand of jobs overnight and tax revenues in the Millions. We don’t need slots machines, we need a new industry and that’s gaming, RFP Trump and Wynn. New York State has six racinos and next year Aqueduct will be the seventh.

        As of 2006, racinos are legal in nine states: Delaware, Louisiana, Maine, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and West Virginia[1]. The first racino in Pennsylvania opened in November 2006. West Virginia pioneered the concept when MTR Gaming Group was allowed to introduce video lottery terminals (VLTs) to Mountaineer Race Track & Gaming Resort in Chester. Delaware, Rhode Island, and West Virginia, all members of the Multi-State Lottery Association (MUSL; best known for Powerball), in fact, jointly run a jackpot VLT game, Ca$hola.

        Bridgeport, Casino jobs (include (but certainly aren’t limited to):
        Baccarat Dealers
        Bingo Callers
        Blackjack Dealers
        Cage Cashiers
        Casino Floor
        Casino Hosts
        Casino Managers
        Change Attendants
        Craps Dealers
        Craps Boxmen
        Craps Stickmen
        Craps Floormen
        Hard Count Attendants
        Keno Writers
        Keno Runners
        Pai Gow Dealers
        Pit Clerks
        Pit Supervisors
        Poker Dealers
        Race Book Cashiers
        Race Book Ticket Writers
        Roulette Dealers
        Hotel workers
        Surveillance Officers
        Uniformed Security

        1. Jim:
          You have the right idea but as long as politicians control the rules it will not happen. This state needs binding referendums to get the people’s will done. The casino you envision may as well have slots, they appeal to many people. This may be an idea for some wise citizens to go to a meet and greet or wherever and demand the candidates endorse casino gaming in this city! Those jobs you listed above would bring in 6 to 9 thousand entry-level jobs. Goodbye southern Fairfield county, get your cheap labor from somebody else.

          1. charlie: The State compact with Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods Casino is just for slot machines only, 25% (vig) a la Weicker–goes to the State.
            The State has no regulation over table games, for Mohegan & Foxwoods but the Federal Government does.
            That left it open for any City or Town to receive permission from the State, for a Casino for (table games, Sports book, Race book, etc.
            Just the revenue alone from a Sports book operation, would be in the Freaking Millions.
            Every Baseball, Basketball, Golf, Tennis, (Dancing with the Stars) has odds. Lombard’s right!!!
            Bridgeport needs to come out of its coma, and fast

          2. Charlie:
            The State compact with Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods Casino is just for slot machines only, 25% (vig) a la Weicker–goes to the State.
            The State has no regulation over table games, for Mohegan & Foxwoods but the Federal Government does.
            That left it open for any City or Town to receive permission from the State for a Casino for (table games, Sports book, Race book, etc.
            Just the revenue alone from a Sports book operation would be in the freaking Millions.
            Every Baseball, Basketball, Golf, Tennis, (Dancing with the Stars) has odds. Lombard’s right!!!
            Bridgeport needs to come out of its coma, and fast!

        2. A casino creates a lot of other “business” as well: pawn shops, divorce attorneys, bank examiners, etc. You forgot all of that.

      2. UOB,
        Thanks, that was a good read. Also below there was a good piece by King3 in the comment section. Non-Indian gambling would be possible in CT if legislators read the language and had some vision. Bpt could run gaming the same way the state of CT does. But instead of the monies going to the Indians it would stay in our coffers to improve our schools, our roads, our social services. If we got a Casino back when Steve Wynn & Trump were interested we would have good jobs and a prosperous economy. This is a hopeless situation in the truest sense of the word.

        So where are we now? We are trying to sell off City Hall or the Annex to balance the budget. Or permit the suburbs to tie into our antiquated sewers that are already overloaded in exchange for “Millions” we will probably never see. The only growth industry I see is crime, both inside & outside of City Hall.

    1. charlie,
      Thanks for reading and commenting on “conflicts of interest” and the way they play a part in City governance. Perhaps you can point out one or more for all of us to think about.

      When we were kids and interested in sports, we looked up to those who were held up at that time to be the best or the highest at what they do. So we adopted a batting stance, or wear special gloves that had been sponsored by one of our heroes. In similar fashion as adults we see who has been elected to office (forgetting to see that only 20-30% of registered adults have voted in a particular election and neglecting to think about one of the reasons young people in the military are ready to give their lives for that voting privilege) and we observe their behavior: what they actually do, what they say about it and what are their rewards. A one-party system on top of “a strong Mayor form of government” with precious little attention given to structural checks and balance or engaging public members with expertise in the process, eventually puts us where we are today.

      To think there are still citizens ready to challenge the “powerful incumbent” is a healthy sign for the City. Overcoming profound deafness in the community at large or tone deafness among the eligible voters is the necessary activity of the challengers.

      1. B2:
        The citizens who are willing to challenge the system deserve kudos. More than that they deserve the support of people at the poles. I recall when Steve Wynn forced a non-binding referendum for the casino in Bridgeport they had volunteers for phone banks, posters, walk and talk. Yes there was some tangible interest for them, JOBS!!! I believe for this type of citizen involvement a candidate must promise and be READY to deliver jobs for the city. Entry-level jobs.

        You are correct about the slot deal for 25% because the INDIAN GAMING REGULATORY ACT specifies the tribe can only have a class three permit which is based on the games the State had permitted. Vegas nights opened that for the tribe; however, there was never electronic gaming in the State. That is why they agreed to the compact. This is also the reason Blumenthal abolished Vegas nights. He thinks this will eliminate all future tribal gaming facilities. As usual he is wrong.

  2. So Finch has only a five-point lead on a candidate who hasn’t even started to make his case to the people? Even though this candidate has a rap sheet, the people clearly seem as though they will be receptive once he starts to communicate in public … Lennie, if you keep polling you might actually push him into the race!

  3. From a yahooy post yesterday:
    “Ganim polling well … screw every one of you who think that thief and arrogant shithead should return to office. Where did this polling company get their list? From Ernest ‘T’s’ rolodex?”

    I don’t usually take sides in the Only in Bridgeport commentary, but I think this yahooy reference should be the attitude of the electorate.
    How do you hold a man convicted of municipal corruption in high esteem so much so he polls well enough to garner reelection vibes?

    Let me be plain and simple. What on earth is wrong with you people?

    1. Stoned,
      We are students of history. Who can ever forget Marion Barry smoking crack on FBI videotape? People sometimes identify with lowlifes and in this case voted him back as Mayor of DC. This may be the same reason desperate people propose marriage to serial killers on death row, they may feel that is all they deserve.

    2. So let me attempt to hang some black crepe around the necks of those who become all excited at the prospect of a Joe Ganim political resurrection. Have you been following anything I have been saying about Pension Plan A? Are you a taxpayer?

      Well, while Ganim was on a roll with wine in the car trunk, custom shirts, etc. he had City Bond Counsel issuing $350 Million of Bonds to fund pension obligations that had been ignored previously during his term and earlier ones. The bonds were from a municipality, but interestingly were issued as taxable bonds rather than non-taxable, as is more usual. Therefore to attract notice they carried a 7.4% coupon rate, higher than for tax-free issues at the time. City taxpayers have paid over $30 Million per year for eleven years with nineteen more years to go. That approximates $906 Million. So we borrowed $350 Million and must pay an additional $550 Million in interest plus the original principal to fund a closed Pension Plan for about 900 beneficiaries. Sound like a good idea to you today?

      The radical idea at that time was to get the closed Pension Plan funded to a level near 80% of what the State saw as necessary. Then with minimal annual funding the corpus of the investments plus the City annual contribution directed by the actuary plus the amount required from still-working public safety employees would keep the Plan running smoothly and accomplishing its objective: paying retirement income to former public-safety employees.

      What happened instead? The lump of borrowed money was invested, and each year so were the employee contributions. But the “smart money” people in the City hit at least two bad investment markets in 10 years and lost maybe $100 Million of the funds invested according to Mayor Finch. And from 2000 through 2006 the City funded less than $1 Million per year while benefits were being paid out of the fund of $25-30 Million.

      How many “smart money” people can the City afford? Equity markets, bond markets, and currency markets are the same as any “market.” They can be volatile and people can lose money when markets go down, just as people can end up with more money in their accounts when markets rise.

      All those who have been telling us what a great thing Ganim did for the City: Please tell us how paying $906 Million for bond repayments alone plus annual contributions of unknown amount for unknown years into the future (until the last retiree or retiree’s widow dies) looks to you today in hindsight? By the way, just the Bond payments each year to benefit 900 income beneficiaries means on average the taxpayer expense is $1 Million per beneficiary for principal and interest. And since the fund is about 99% likely to expire before the last beneficiary does, more tens of millions will be required in as soon as 5-6 years. How does that look as a Ganim legacy to Bridgeport? How do the Monday-morning quarterbacks assess that particular pension game? Did we win this one, or lose it?

    3. Stone:
      Many years ago the city of Bridgeport let the Town of Trumbull tap into Bridgeport Sewage System, only to find out years later the town of Trumbull tap into our drinking-water supply. This will explain why we in Bridgeport suffer from (Dame Bramage). Ever since then, Mayor Paul Timpanelli tried to put together a three-town Sewage System Compact, hoping he can switch pipes like Obama keeping it a secret, from the Bridgeport (Dame Bramage) public . And that’s why you will never see Timpanelli drink anything from Bridgeport, water, coffee, tea, and he always has his hands in his pockets. Now you Know what’s wrong with Bridgeport voters. Run! Joe, Run!

  4. I would like to give another view concerning felons seeking elected office. Trust, but verify was used by President Ronald Reagan. Reagan frequently used it when discussing U.S. relations with the Soviet Union. If as a society we believe in a God then we will forgive others.

  5. Elections coming and politicians will soon promise to do more for the public. And the state budget passed, largest single-year tax increase in state history in total dollars.

    However, what about our daily life, is it improving? Let’s look at transportation. The 95 highway is a parking lot in rush hour. Metro North trains falling apart. Bus ridership minimal. And Connecticut is the only state in the East Coast region from Florida to Maine that allows free use of its highways. Why don’t we charge anything instead of a big state tax hike?

    Tune in tonight at 8pm for a full hour with experts from the CT League of Women Voters to discuss these key issues and more. Soundview Public Access TV, ch 88 in Bridgeport.

  6. Bridgeport Now Live TV is at 8pm. By the way, there is a bill in Hartford (H.B. No. 6460) that would take funds away from Soundview TV where we do the show weekly, and consequently shut it down. Fairfield wants to start its own access station. I am not sure why in such an affluent town they are seeking funds from Bridgeport.

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