OIB Poll: Ganim Leads And He’s Not In The Race–Will He Get In? What Does This Say About Voter Mood?

Joe Ganim
What's Joe gonna do?

Former Mayor Joe Ganim’s not even officially in the race for his old job. He hasn’t served in office in more than eight years. He spent six years in the joint following his conviction on corruption charges. And yet he leads slightly in both a head-to-head matchup against Mayor Bill Finch and increases that lead in a large potential Democratic primary field in a public opinion poll conducted by OIB. Ganim’s been acting somewhat like a candidate, but it appears, according to political operatives, Ganim’s leading toward an independent candidacy if he gets in the action.

OIB commissioned www.merrimanriver.com to screen 565 likely Democratic primary voters for a snapshot of head-to-head matchups of challengers against Mayor Bill Finch and a full field of current candidates. In addition a sampling included Ganim against Finch and as a candidate measured against the current primary field.

In a straight matchup Ganim leads Finch (within the poll’s margin of error) by four percentage points, 40 percent to 36 percent with the rest unsure or preferring another candidate. One demographic gulf in this matchup is striking with Ganim securing strong support among African American and Latino voters and Finch equally strong support among those respondents who identified themselves as white. These results validate two previous OIB polls that measured Ganim against Finch. Ganim and Finch run relatively even along gender lines with Ganim performing well among voters who say taxes and jobs are the key issues and Finch among voters placing crime and education among the the top.

The Merriman River poll asked the following question: Among all five of the candidates–Bill Finch, Joe Ganim, Mary-Jane Foster, John Gomes and Charlie Coviello–-who would be your first choice? The response by percentage:

Ganim 35 percent
Finch 28 percent
Foster 17 percent
Gomes 6 percent
Coviello 2 percent
Other 1 percent
Unsure 11 percent

What happens in the current field configuration if Ganim’s not in the Democratic primary? This:

Finch 40 percent
Foster 26 percent
Gomes 13 percent
Coviello 4 percent
Other 5 percent
Unsure 12 percent

Finch performs better in the current primary field. Add Ganim to it and it’s a different story. In a direct matchup Finch leads Foster by just seven points but expands his lead in a large field. Gomes and Coviello clearly take votes from Foster.

If Ganim’s contemplating a primary run the window is closing to build a force of supporters to secure roughly 2,000 signatures among Democratic voters to place his name on the ballot. Democratic Town Chair Mario Testa, who supports Finch, has scheduled July 26 as the night of the Democratic Town Committee endorsement which Finch appears a lock to secure. The next morning challengers can take out petition papers to scour signatures that must be submitted to city election officials in two weeks for review and certification.

If Ganim opts for the general election route as a petitioning candidate he’d need only secure 126 validated signatures to place his name on the ballot. Why is Ganim performing so well in the African American and Latinos communities? They saw progress during his years as mayor, says former State Senator Ernie Newton who’s eyeing a political comeback himself after spending time on corruption charges. “People judge Joe by his work not his faults,” says the Moses of his peeps. “And when it comes to the criminal justice system it’s not justice … it’s just us.”

What does it say about the mood of the Democratic electorate that Ganim, even though not a candidate, maintains a competitive standing with voters in the current mayoral field?

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.



  1. I for one am disappointed at the thought Joe Ganim may run again for mayor. I was a heavy supporter of Joe in his first term. I was the deciding vote that sold the park to the state so the city could receive millions in aid. I did so with the promise from Joe he would never lease or sell the golf course. We all know where that went.
    The leasing of the golf course never produced $1.00 in revenue for the city, in fact it cost us a ton of money.
    Another dumb thing he did was bond for Pension plan A at an extremely high interest rate that has cost us a ton of money. $300 million is going to cost us $900 million when the bond is finally paid off. Joe Ganim is not the answer and neither is Bill Finch.

    1. Not only did the golf course not produce a dime, it actually cost the city millions in uncollected rent from National Fairways. Bergschneider got away with the revenues for his “Borrow from Peter to pay Paul” scheme. The City of Bridgeport never did a credit check on National Fairways and would have found out it was virtually bankrupt. Additionally, it was Golden Bear (Nicklaus’ company) that got the initial contract, but they refused to give a $25,000 donation to Ganim’s re-election campaign fund. Bergschneider wrote a check and got the contract at $700,000 per year with the caveat the 2 courses would be rehabilitated. After not paying rent for over 2 years, National Fairways left Fairchild-Wheeler and for 2 more years the courses lay fallow with the inept Parks Dept. doing the mowing.

    1. yahooy,
      You have a wonderful grasp of the obvious, the fix is in. Wood should begin writing the victory speech for Finch right now. Let me throw out a teaser here. Mario pulls a Fabrizi and decides Finch is unelectable due to the BOE scandal, and Joe Ganim is nominated before the entire DTC.

  2. No great surprises here. Clearly, Gomes and Coviello take away from Foster which would bring about a repeat of the ’03 primary where more people voted against Fabrizi than for him.

    Lennie–What dynamic enters into this race for Ganim based on unaffiliated and Republican voters?
    Ganim may have a honeymoon period but he doesn’t have a pre-nup with the voters when things start getting rehashed over and over about how he hurt this city.

  3. Joe Ganim had his turn as mayor–while there may have been improvement during his term as mayor, it was done at a high price, both in dollars and image. I’m not willing to pay that price again. And Bill Finch doesn’t quite get the fact he is dragging this city down a very similar path. I for one won’t vote for either!!!

  4. Ganim is messing with you all, and you all fall for it. He must know there are only six readers of this since it became all MJ all the time and he’s having a ton of fun. As for follow the money’s comments on Gomes not advertising on the all MJ channel anymore … the results of this poll show you should be kissing Gomes’ buttocks more than ever to sit down with you.

  5. I think it is crazy to contemplate Joe Ganim on a ballot for mayor of Bridgeport. Therefore, it will happen.

    If it happens, Joe goes independent. No screwing around. His voter support was not killed off because of his legal problems, polling shows. There’s also enormous anecdotal evidence of his popularity.

    Joe Ganim may be labeled as a felon but he does not need a label of Democrat or Republican. He is Joe Ganim. He is what he is. The voters know him.

    Some Democratic opponent will have to deal with that eventually. But first, that Democratic opponent will have to win the nomination through a messy primary.

    Speaking of Republicans, who is the Republican candidate for mayor? This is suddenly important if Ganim is an independent. Democrats may want to rent the Republican label.

    I said at the top this was crazy.

  6. Although there is/was support for a Gomes/Foster team … I believe Ganim will have the support of the Police union and the Fire union because of a likely “sure thing.” Any one of the many members, and their families who still vote in Bridgeport, could assume the role as the “Anyone but Finch, Grinch!” Probably not many of those folks were polled, but there is great angst in both unions when it comes the current administration and it’s obvious showing of greed and power!

  7. Word on the street is Mayor Finch is ready to offer a second five-year contract to both the police and fire chiefs. If I am not mistaken, these matters will be referred to the contracts committee tomorrow night. Please, someone, anyone, say it isn’t so!
    The Bridgeport Fire Department was just found to be at fault in the fire incident last July where two members of the department were killed. Where is the outrage from the public regarding this? Two firefighters were killed, the department is found to be grossly negligent and nobody is calling for the chief to step down? Beyond the apparent lack of concern from the citizens of this city, the mayor is going to offer him a 5-year contract extension? Finch just lost 5 votes in my family … and I’m sure quite a few more in the ranks of the fire department.

    1. See what I mean? I believe this is just the tip of the iceberg. I do know a majority of union members understand how under educated and under qualified the chief really is, and have been vocal about him being retired.

    2. There is no outrage, because the Connecticut Post doesn’t cover any Bridgeport news in any depth, and people don’t give a flying rat’s butt …

  8. Here’s what I see happening and feel free to disagree.

    Scenario #1. Foster gets very close to Finch in the primary but can’t pull it off. Gomes’ ego is too big and he can’t bring himself to drop out and support a woman. Finch wins the primary and the calamarians retain control.

    Scenario #2. Gomes checks his ego and throws his support to Foster. She squeaks by Finch in the primary. Enter Joe Ganim. Joe runs as an independent and Mario and most of the DTC support him so they keep their political jobs. Ganim wins and the calamarians retain control.

    Either way you look at it we’re screwed.

  9. How is it people can be calling for Ramos to resign, yet Chief Rooney, whose terrible decisions led to the DEATHS of two firefighters is given a pass?

  10. This is your board of Fire Commissioners and according to the city’s website all the terms are expired. The plaintiff’s attorneys are going to have a field day with this group. Gotta love it. They have allowed Rooney to do whatever he wants with impunity. The facts don’t lie, but Rooney does.

    James Meszoros Expired 1/2010
    Mary Lee Expired 1/2006
    Jonathan Klein Expired 1/2007
    Stuart Rosenberg Expired 1/2007 (Pres. useless)
    Edgar Rodriguez Expired 1/2011
    Doris Gaskin Expired 1/2008
    Ana Garcia Expired 1/2008 V.P. (useless)

    1. Just would like to say the Fire Commission has no say over firefighting tactics and procedures. They are in place as a step in the discipline process. They vote on disability applications and monitor the pension funds.

      1. Wrong! They are the overseers of the entire FD and responsible for its proper operation. tc, why were Rosenberg and Charlie Carroll part of the interview committee with Fabrizi? Mailed-in appointment.

    2. Were you to look at most Boards and Commissions in the City you would find the same MESS! Why? Because it serves to the advantage of the Mayor, who can appoint anyone else if you don’t vote the way the current leader wishes … Cold, hard facts of life. Not initiated by Finch, but used by Fabrizi and Ganim.

      A change of language that forced the Mayor (as Charter powered appointer) to grade a Board or Commission member as Outstanding, Satisfactory or Unequal to the task, for instance sixty days before the term would otherwise be complete in writing. Failure to provide that grade would automatically renew the term of that person for an additional ? years as fits the particular Board or Commission.

      Those volunteering for public duty and using their time, experience and talent for the benefit of the public, without compensation, should be able to know where they stand. And the public at large should be able to count on Mayoral competency to advance and authorize citizens of broad diversity to the Boards and Commissions that perform so much work for the City.

      I for one look for each Mayoral candidate to have a position on this issue. Approximately 135 citizens of Bridgeport are affected by this volunteer system. The work of these Boards and Commissions are not meant to have a heavy hand from the Mayor’s office intruding in every decision.




  12. It is my understanding equipment is checked by on-duty personnel before, during and after use. However, the report points out the failure was at the physical/mechanical testing of equipment because testing didn’t occur prior to being given to on-duty personnel along with a host of other CRITICAL failures, i.e. chiefs/division heads. Another Rooney failure … the buck starts and stops at his desk, and a politically appointed Fire Commissioners Board that rubber stamps anything Rooney tells them.

    Any jury that reads this report and hears sworn testimony would award a minimum of 3 million dollars in a lawsuit for each the families of these brave men. How do you sleep at night, Rooney?

  13. Lennie, there needs to be a Rooney, Deputy Fire Chiefs and Board of Fire Commissioners all need to be fired THREAD. Show those brave men and women of the BFD others will speak up if they don’t and are afraid to.

  14. Lennie–Was there any consideration given to public safety in the recent polling? If so, please share as to what extent. And if there wasn’t any polling regarding public safety, why not? I realize the BOE story was the headline grabber this past week but let’s not forget the shellacking the fire department administration took this past week as well. The lives of two Bridgeport firefighters were lost on Chief Rooney’s watch. Decisions made by him and this administration played a major part in the events of that fateful day. ‘
    Why aren’t people calling for him to step down? How can Mayor Finch keep him on for another five-year term?
    Does this become a campaign issue? I know it has for me and my family …

    There will be a meeting of the at City Hall, 45 Lyon Terrace, Bridgeport, Connecticut in the Wheeler Room, Side B. If you are unable to attend, please contact the committee co-chairs Mr. Carlos Silva, at (203) 371-7672 or Mr. Richard Paoletto Jr. at (203) 373-9694.

    If you have submitted an item that appears on the agenda below and are receiving this notice, it is imperative that you or a representative attend the meeting to represent that item.

    Approval of Committee Minutes of June 14, 2011.

    79-10 Proposed Amendment to the current Agreement between the Town of Stratford and The City of Bridgeport and their respective Water Pollution Control Authorities.

    98-10 Proposed Employment Agreement with Chief of Police, Joseph Gaudett.

    99-10 Proposed Employment Agreement with Fire Chief, Brian Rooney.

    105-10 Proposed License Agreement with State of Connecticut for space on the first floor of the Department of Health and Social Services building, 752 East Main Street, to be used by the State Department of Veterans Affairs.

    Very truly yours,
    Frances Wilson
    Assistant City Clerk

    FW: aw

    Ec: Mayor Bill Finch
    A. Nunn, CAO
    A. Wood, Chief of Staff
    M. Anastasi, City Attorney
    D. Norton, Director, Finance
    R. Felipe, Deputy Chief of Staff
    T. Sherwood, Director, OPM
    E. Ficarra, Press Secretary, Mayor’s Office
    S. Lazarus, Executive Assistant, Mayor’s Office
    L. Osborne, Director, Labor Relations
    W. Robinson, Acting Director, WPCA
    J. Gaudett, Chief of Police
    B. Rooney, Fire Chief
    V. Sorrentino, Deputy Dir., Health & Social Services

    Cc: W. Keeney, Esquire

  16. The firefighters union for at least the last ten years has become a shell of what it used to be. The leadership is nonexistent. When was the last time the union made any kind of a statement regarding the two firefighters’ deaths? I don’t believe they ever did! Even after the NIOSH report placed responsibility on Rooney. During Rooney’s five years there have been 20 fire related deaths in the city, more than at any other time in the history of the BFD. In addition to two firefighters.

    1. That’s not true. While anyone who dies in a fire is a tragedy, to blame Rooney for these deaths is ridiculous. That is a completely uninformed statement. There are years during the ’70s and early ’80s when we had double-digit fatalities.

      1. So, what your saying is, since it happened in the 70’s and 80’s it’s ok to happen during Rooney’s failed leadership. You need to come up with something better. He’s supposed to be in charge right.

        1. I am not saying that at all, but to blame Rooney for those 20 deaths is wrong and over the line. You may blame Rooney for a lot of things but this statement that he is responsible is wrong.

          1. Any way you want to cut it he is responsible. He’s the one who will be questioned under oath, not that that means anything to him, but he failed those two firefighters, and they died because of his overall failures and ego. Wait ’til the plaintiffs’ lawyers get a hold of his application to be appointed chief … it will be like fishing in a barrel.

      2. I’m not so sure it’s a tragedy to blame the chief, or ridiculous, tc. The chief was consumed with ridding the department of certain individuals, as you know, and couldn’t focus on anything else, and it shows. Also, you know he has always been a belligerent “my way, or else” type of administrator, and to this day keeps the pressure on those he dislikes, and shows favor to “friends” or those who are agreeable. There are many examples. As far his culpability with the deaths, his job is to enforce the rules and regulations and to keep the public safe. When it comes to smoke-detector surveys, you have 96 members of the department who can go out to their districts, once during the day shift, and also at the night shift! THAT is the number-one way to find violations for properties that might be illegal or unsafe. He never bothered to see what was being done, or emphasized record keeping. You will also start to hear how he was warned the new communication system he would install was faulty in certain situations, but he NEVER listens to anyone. That is exactly what happened on Elmwood Ave! The trucks and engines can return to the firehouse faster than they are allowed to respond to a fire! His rule is 25mph maximum!
        You think education should be some part of the criteria for a job like his don’t you? He has none. Some seminars he attended in other states. No certifications of Fire Officer, Safety Officer, Fire Instructor, no Fire Marshal training, I don’t even think he is a certified FF2 … not to mention no college. He may have been a decent firefighter, but the job has little to do with that nowadays. He has resources available to him he ignores and they reward him with another contract. I just want you to know why members are not in favor of him as their leader. He’s a dangerous man.

        1. Look I am not a Rooney apologist but to blame him for everything that’s wrong in the FD, while I understand the buck stops at the top, may be a little over the top.
          There is a certain amount of blame that goes to the union as it relates to the conditions you describe. If the men and women of the FD are not getting the best available equipment it’s up to the union to bring that to the public’s attention.
          The company officers are also responsible for seeing that the equipment under their care is functional and up to date with any required testing. It is their job to document what is wrong or not working.

  17. DonTito and park city are close. The Chiefs have been working without contracts since their sham appointments. The fix to get both into the top three was in. Finch then simply picked them. Now his puppeteering is easier. This is how he got around the charter. What you see on that agenda is the first five-year contract. Also rumor has it all commissioners appointed by Finch must first sign a resignation letter in case they don’t do his bidding.

  18. If Ganim is likely to run as an independent, you can’t just use a sample of Democrats to gauge his chances. Ganim won’t win a general election. You forgot to include Republicans and independents. An interesting poll would be to have a poll that covers the general, has Finch as Dem, Mary-Jane as Working Families, Ganim as an independent and a Republican candidate. Finch may squeak through with Dems who are paid, oh I mean, asked to vote in Sept, but I think the general is a whole different game.

  19. You know. The only place dialogue about Joe Ganim running for office appears is in the OIB Blog. No CT Post, no WICC. Nowhere else. Makes you wonder.

  20. Rooney was appointed by the other loser mayor, Fabrizi. Now the “village idiot” can make him his own appointee. For a good laugh get a copy of Rooney’s fire chief civil service application and you’ll see just how ill-prepared and non-educated he is. Read and inform yourselves. But where is the union and membership on this issue?

  21. Lennie, how about an OIB countdown clock to July 27, 2011?
    Are you sure Finch has a lock on the party endorsement? Voter mood? What’s the mood of the Bridgeport Democratic Town Committee regarding the mayor’s rejection of six (6) democratically endorsed and elected BOE members. Did anyone ask the DTC members what they think of the idea to give the state control of the Bridgeport BOE? It’s obvious the voters are looking for someone with a proven record of success and the ability to get things done. Under Joe Ganim they experienced progress of which there hasn’t been any since he left office.

  22. Maybe Mr. Coleman should meet with the parents of PTO system and not with another spinoff non-profit.
    BPSS??? How many more alphabet soup named organizations can our city take?

  23. DonTito, I am also wondering where is the outrage from the firefighters and their union. Here is an example why Chief Rooney should NOT be rehired:

    Factors in triple-fatal fire debated
    AARON LEO aleo@ctpost.com
    Article Last Updated: 12/14/2007 04:19:28 PM EST

    BRIDGEPORT — The embers of the Fairfield Avenue fire that killed a father, mother and infant son last week have cooled, but questions still smolder over whether coincidence or mismanagement hampered firefighters’ response to the tragedy.

    One factor fueling the debate is the closure of Ocean Terrace Fire Station — about three-tenths of a mile from the fire scene at 2345 Fairfield Ave. — for repairs earlier in the month. The first firefighters dispatched to the scene were based at the Wood Avenue station, more than a mile to the east.

    According to Fire Department officials, it took the first crews about seven minutes to arrive on the scene, which they say is three minutes longer than their stated goal of an average four-minute response time to a fire anywhere in the city.

    Critics are not questioning firefighters’ determined efforts to rescue residents from the three multi-family houses that caught fire on the frigid morning, but two retired city firefighters are faulting the department’s leadership for factors they contend may have played a role in the fire deaths.

    The Connecticut Post has asked to listen to the 911 tape of the calls reporting the Dec. 7 fire and communications between the dispatch center and firefighters en route to the scene. However, officials said it cannot be released yet because of their continuing investigation.

    Fire Chief Brian Rooney said that firefighters’ response time to the blaze would obviously have been quicker had the Ocean Terrace station been open. However, he is not sure whether that would have changed how events played out.

    The fast-moving blaze caused the floor to collapse beneath Arturo Iselo, 29; his wife, Anayelo Hernandez, 31, and the couple’s 1-year-old infant, Omar, who were huddled in a second-floor room. The father returned to help them escape after first helping two other sons flee the fire. They all died from smoke inhalation.

    Smoke alarms apparently were broken or absent from the house, although fire investigators have not be able to say that for certain since the intense fire left little evidence in its wake.

    The two critics, Ronald Mackey and Donald Day, each lead organizations of black firefighters in Bridgeport and are longtime detractors of Fire Department leadership. They charge that lack of a backup plan — other than moving the Ocean Terrace firefighters to Wood Avenue — left the West End with inadequate fire protection.

    Also, repairs to the firehouse should have been made earlier, they contend, which could have avoided the complete shutdown that forced its firefighters to be moved to Wood Avenue.

    In a Dec. 10 letter to Mayor Bill Finch, Mackey, the president of the Firebird Society of Bridgeport, wrote: “The repairs that were needed at Engine 7 and Ladder 11 [fire house] on Ocean Terrace have been reported to Chief Rooney for years on daily, weekly and monthly reports, and instead of fixing things immediately, the status quo has been to let them go unrepaired.”

    He said some on-site alternative facility should have been set up temporarily near the Ocean Terrace station to house the firefighters.

    But Rooney said Thursday that wasn’t feasible.

    “We’re doing the best with what we have,” he said.

    Seated at his desk in Fire Department headquarters, Rooney pointed to a pile of documents on the repairs to the firehouse for problems such as clogged toilets and drains, and various leaks.

    Workers from the city’s Public Facilities Department “have been up there many times,” he said.

    The history of leaks and clogs are the result of the firehouse gradually settling on the filled site where it was built.

    “It’s something you don’t notice right away,” he said of the structure’s settling. But it has caused a broken sewer main outside the station and clogs in the roof drains.

    Repairs could take until late December, he noted, adding that it initially appeared to be a four- or five-day job.

    Stabilizing the station requires using a jackhammer to break up the floor and then digging up the pieces by hand, before pouring a new, more stable floor, the chief said. That should permanently fix the problem, he added.

    Rooney asked why Mackey didn’t offer an alternative housing solution in his letter to Finch.

    The chief said erecting a temporary setup for firefighters would have been challenging, involving separate men’s and women’s quarters, keeping firefighters warm and providing adequate bathroom and shower facilities.

    The critics further charged that the chief’s 25-mph speed limit for firetrucks traveling through city streets added to response times.

    The speed limit is for everyone’s safety, Rooney said. A fire vehicle, which weighs tons, cannot stop quickly, he said.

    But whether speed, distance or both, were factors in the fire tragedy, the overall picture is not clear because the fire’s cause remains under investigation.

    Rooney said the house where the fatalities has never been cited for any city housing code violations.

    Finch said last week he hadn’t received Mackey’s letter, but stands by Rooney and his leadership of the department.

    1. >>Finch said last week he hadn’t received Mackey’s letter, but stands by Rooney and his leadership of the department.<<

      … which is why the Unions may not support him for another term of destruction.

    2. Mackey, the BFD has a lot of chest-pounders and firehouse lawyers, but no true leaders willing to “talk the talk” and “walk the walk” in public. Fact!

  24. Here’s the problem. Bridgeport voters have set the standard much too low in deciding who they’ll elect to public office. And the results are painfully clear.

    We need to change that once and for all. It’s time to bring in people with the talent, experience, character and integrity to transform the way this city is run. Do that, and you’ll create a new image and a new reality for Bridgeport. Investment capital, jobs, growth and even lower taxes are sure to follow.

    Change the leaders and you’ll change the results. It’s the only way this once-great city can ever achieve a future … as bright as its illustrious past.

  25. Did Shays ever end up moving to Bridgeport? If Ganim runs as an independent against Foster or Finch, does anyone think Shays might jump in as the GOP candidate to take advantage of the division among Democratic voters?

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