Online Publication Claims ‘Race Plays Major Role’ In Newton, Gomes, Ayala Primary–Newton: Call Me Ernesto

"Ernesto" Newton
Ernie Newton celebrates Puerto Rican Day Parade. From Newton's Facebook page.

A new online news website hasn’t wasted any time featuring the most-watched legislative race in the state: the Aug. 14 Democratic State Senate primary battle between incumbent Ed Gomes, party-endorsed Ernie Newton and State Rep. Andres Ayala. Under the header Race Plays Major Role in Upcoming Senate Primary scribe Rod Carveth weighs in on the campaign. Meanwhile Newton contacted OIB to say he doesn’t think race is part of the race. “Everyone matters,” he says. “I was in the Puerto Rican Day Parade. Call me Ernesto!” Carveth article below:

The contest for the Democratic nomination for the 23rd District Senate seat is shaping up to be Connecticut’s most hard-fought and interesting with a challenger who seeks to be the first Latino in the seat, an incumbent perceived as ailing who was denied the nomination, and the former officeholder, a convicted felon who seeks political redemption.

Gomes, Newton
Will Ed Gomes and Ernie Newton split the black vote? Or will Gomes and Ayala split the anti-Newton vote?

The nomination battle is the local version of a national trend of “black vs. brown” political fights where African Americans and Latinos are vying for political power in areas with heavy, yet diverse, minority populations. According to Nicolas Vaca, author of The Presumed Alliance: The Unspoken Conflict Between Latinos and Blacks and What It Means for America, African Americans have generally represented “communities of color” (African Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans, etc.) in political office. As its population has grown over the past decade, many Latino leaders are demanding their “turn” as political representatives.

The two key factors in such contests nationally is that often Latino political leaders had already aligned themselves with the Africa American incumbent as part of the “persons of color” voting bloc. Second, though the Latino population is growing, and the African American population is dwindling in many of these voting districts, low Latino voter turnout is hurting Latino candidates.

Three candidates are seeking the nomination in a district that includes most of Bridgeport and the western section of Stratford, a predominantly white suburb. The incumbent, Ed Gomes, is facing a challenge from state Rep. Andres Ayala, (D-128th), and former state Sen. Ernie Newton. Newton won the plurality of support during the May Democratic district convention, but both Ayala and Gomes received enough support to force a primary.

Andres Ayala
Andres Ayala has $100K to spend on his race and an East Side legislative base. Will they turn out?

Newton, 51, a colorful African American politician from Bridgeport’s East Side, served in the legislature from 1989 to 2006, and earned a reputation as a passionate community advocate. In 1997, Newton confessed to a crack-cocaine addiction, entered drug rehabilitation and says he has been drug-free since. Then in 2006 he started a four-year prison sentence for taking a $5000 bribe, using campaign donations to pay his own expenses and evading federal income taxes.

Gomes subsequently assumed Newton’s seat. Newton decided to run for the seat back in January because, he believes, the “district doesn’t have a fighter for the community.”

Gomes, 76, has suffered from health problems recently. In the fall of last year, Gomes underwent quadruple-bypass heart surgery. Gomes dismisses any potential issues about his age and health, stating, “There’s not 10% of the people up in Hartford who have a better voting record or attendance record.”

Ayala, 42, an educator in Bridgeport, is a former Bridgeport city council president. He was elected to the State House in 2006. Ayala is a strong advocate of education reform, an issue he plans to focus on as state senator to provide “the best opportunity for our children to succeed.”

Race is a factor in the campaign, according to Sacred Heart University political science professor Gary Rose. If nothing else, Rose stated, the Ayala vote “will give a signal as to how mobilized the Latino vote can be.” Rose also proposed that many Newton supporters feel his jail term was an “extremely harsh penalty” compared to that given to other non-African American Connecticut politicians convicted of crimes, such as former Gov. John Rowland, who received less than the minimum sentencing guidelines when convicted of corruption in federal court.

Gomes also agreed that race has played a role. He stated, “I think that’s why Ayala is running. Some people in the Latino community put him up for it. They figure the black vote will be split between myself and Newton, and Ayala can split down the middle.”

Both Ayala and Newton downplayed the race issue. Newton claimed that the election is about the people of Bridgeport wanting to have someone “running for redemption and opportunity.” Ayala stated his being Latino is “not what my campaign is about. It’s about my experience in getting things done.” Ayala campaign chairperson Americo Santiago notes that the Latino community “is very proud” of Ayala, but warns if he doesn’t get the job done “we [the Bridgeport Latino community] will get him out.”

The Democratic primary will be held on Tuesday, August 14. People not registered to vote have until noon on Aug. 13 to register in person to vote in the primary.



  1. This is a more thoughtful piece of writing than I’ve seen on either the rag known as the CT Post or the blog of Only In Bridgeport.
    Despite the fact I like Ed Gomes, it’s time to step aside.
    Andres Ayala would be a more positive entity in the state senate than the felon known as Newton. He also would not be an embarrassment to the Bridgeport legislative group that can’t get its act together to work as a single and viable entity.

      1. Thanks for the kudos Len. As you know I only wish for the good and welfare of Bridgeport and my insight into the obvious often shows itself in my comments. Just Bob … Zena Lu

    1. “He also would not be an embarrassment to the Bridgeport legislative group that can’t get its act together to work as a single and viable entity.”

      Is this Bob Marley posting? Andres Ayala is part of “… the Bridgeport legislative group that can’t get its act together …” Thoughtfulness, Lennie?

  2. I think Andres Ayala would make a fine State Senator. I know he is not just a respected teacher but can be a leader for the whole city and bring the money to Bridgeport. I think Andres Ayala is not just a well respected leader in the Hispanic community but also has support and respect from all different communities in the city. I think if Ayala does not win by a landslide then the city is lost. He is a strong supporter of Steel Point, he speaks eloquently, educated, understands the importance of education and development, he is youthful and does not have baggage. He is supported by the Mayor and town committee and the Governor. wHY WOULD ANYONE NOT PUT THE RIGHT MAN AT THE RIGHT TIME IN OFFICE. ISN’T IT ABOUT TIME BRIDGEPORT PUT A RESPECTFUL INDIVIDUAL IN OFFICE WHO IS RESPECTED BY THE ENTIRE CITY NOT A RACIAL DIVIDE??? THE EAST SIDE WOULD BE A HUGE WINNER.

    1. Steve, a little over the top here. You may like Ayala but you should not be putting down Ed Gomes who is a WELL RESPECTED former labor leader and has a good record in Hartford.
      Here is one of your statements that is over the top: “I think if Ayala does not win by a landslide than the city is lost.” That is way over the top.
      Ayala has no trouble using his position to move up, just look at the recent job he received under Fabrizi. BTW anyone who has Santiago and Martinez working their campaign is automatically suspect.

      1. Sorry Andy. I respect Mr. Gomes. He does not believe in Steel Point and he never believed it would ever happen. I heard that from his own lips when he was supporting Marilyn Moore’s campaign a few years ago against Musto. Let me be clear, I only want a campaign that is pro-Steel Point pro-Bridgeport and able to speak eloquently enough to make people listen and bring home the bacon to Bridgeport. Okay, maybe not a landslide but I would say pretty damn close.

    2. Steve, you are trying really hard to get that Bridgeport teacher job.
      “… does not have baggage.”

      Remember, Andres Ayala was the City Council President under Fabrizi until the end of 2006 when he left to go to Hartford. Enter 2007 and Bill Finch as mayor. The City is running a $29 million deficit, hundreds of city employees get laid off, taxes are raised up to 2012. What happened to the $51 million in reserve funds when Ganim left and Fabrizi/Ayala took over? As Council President, many East Side homeowners selectively got new sidewalks. This may explain why you are so sure the East Side would be a huge winner. At the expense of whom?

      Is Ayala or Gomes going to use public funds to tell the voters they voted for the biggest tax increase in the history of Connecticut and we’re still in the red? Will they mention the cuts to programs and all the millions of dollars the state is giving to well-off companies? The revelation of baggage is up to the individual campaigns. We are only hearing about Ernesto’s baggage and it’s up to him to point out that of the other candidates.

  3. The above article mentions it is the Latino’s turn; what the hell does that mean? Their so-called turn comes when they are able to get the vote out. I don’t know of any area where the blacks and Latinos work together. If that were the case we would have had a minority mayor a long time ago.
    I have campaigned for Hispanic candidates in the past and have found in some areas they won in spite of the heavy Hispanic registered voters. The most notable was Santa Ayala’s primary against Lisa Parziale. In our district only 10% of the Hispanic voters showed up at the polls but she still won the district.
    Having Santiago and Martinez working for Ayala can be looked at as a negative.

  4. *** Everyone’s vote counts provided they’re from the 23rd district, no? However, race is somewhat of a factor in this Senate Campaign regardless of what the candidates claim. Bpt’s African American and Latino voters very seldom can get together in a “primary” and back one minority person in hopes of going all the way. If they did, I feel the city could have had a minority Mayor by now, etc. However they will and have gotten together in the past to back the same white candidates in a primary (go figure). “Y” is a crooked letter in the alphabet of politics in the minority community, which always leads to the same question of “what have you done for us lately?” In the end, ABs will be the determining factor for the winner with possible SEEC violations for the usual infractions from the usual suspects! *** HERE WE GO! ***

    1. You got it right, Mojo! If we were to put all the Black and Hispanic activists, civic leaders, clergy, businessmen and politicians in the same room and they all started to cut each other with blades, they will then start arguing about who has the reddest blood. OUCH!

    1. Tell that to the Republicans. Look at the Black vote percentage for Obama. You expect anyone to believe it’s because the Republicans didn’t know how to spend their money and had no organization? It’s not the money and organization for the race–it’s the color on the candidates’ face.

    1. Like many Puerto Ricans, there are Cape Verdeans who are of Black ancestry. The Andres Ayala campaign headed by Americo Santiago from Puerto Rico is informing Bridgeport Latinos Ed Gomes is not Latino/hispanic.

  5. Well, now we can openly talk about race here in Bridgeport. Race is “always” in play in Bridgeport, it’s just people won’t admit it.

      1. Andy, just look at the Democratic Town Committee, people of color are not the majority, same for the City Council and every City Board and commission, people of color are not the majority even though they are much more than the majority.

        1. Ron, what you stated may be true although I am not sure. Let’s assume you are right. Whose fault is it there is not more minority representation? It’s the leaders of the minority community and the people who live in their districts’ fault.
          Representation on the TC can be had by just putting a slate together of minority candidates and do the necessary work to get elected.
          The minority leaders should be knocking on the mayor’s door demanding more representation on boards and commissions. Are they? I would say NO because they are to busy doing for themselves and their close friends (i.e. jobs and the like).
          It’s time for the minority community to get off their collective ass and go after what they want.
          The one reason we will not have a minority mayor is because the leaders are always fighting and it has become a mine is bigger than yours battle and the people lose out.

          1. Andy Fardy, I hear you, I might not have said it that way but it is up to blacks and Latinos to get out and get involved. I am also talking about “appointed positions” made by Mayor Finch and Mario Testa where it is their choice and selection and they are “not” appointing blacks and Latinos; why, simply because those who select must not speak out.

      1. Ron, it all goes back to the leadership in the minority community. Every election the ministers for the minority churches come out in favor of the Democratic candidates and tell their parishioners to get out and vote.
        What you say about the appointed positions is right on the money. That’s where the ministers should be putting pressure on the administrations for fair representation. Don’t the ministers see this problem? Don’t they see in effect the administration (all) are saying silently there are no qualified minority candidates? I find it offensive the population is not properly represented and we go outside the city for white appointees.

  6. Hmmm, I do not live in this district, I live in Musto’s district. I personally like Ernie Newton but do not want him to win, he stole from the voters already why should he get a second term? I will be happy if Ed Gomes or Ayala wins. I wonder how turnout in the city will be. Will 8000 Dems vote across the city? I doubt it.

    1. *** donj will you be considering Musto with no gusto for State Senate again? He’s a Dem, no? Maybe the GOP has a better choice? However it looks like more of the same old shit! *** HELP ***

  7. *** Still waiting for some type of political platform and reasons why voters should vote for them over their opponents. What’s their claim to fame besides being minority candidates or incumbents, etc. … ***

  8. For once I’d like to see candidates run on their records and merit instead of the race card. This is the 21st century and that race issue is really passe, but it doesn’t seem so in some peoples’ minds.

  9. Rumors from the campaign trail have it the Andres Ayala campaign headed by Americo Santiago from Puerto Rico is telling Bridgeport Latinos: Ernesto is not honesto.

  10. I would not describe the campaigning style or method being used in this State Senate race as racist. What is taking place is what I have touched on here on many other occasions: Polarization. It is real and has been taking place for many decades now. The Wikipedia article in the link below makes no mention of Race Polarization, however it is the same phenomenon. A black person will most likely feel another black person will relate to them better, so they will most likely support that person when running for office–the same goes for all other races or nationalities. Anything that makes a voter feel the candidate is closer to their views will lead that voter to support that candidate. The majority of the people don’t even realize this is what’s going on in their heads and interpret this as racism, but would never admit it. Maybe one day I’ll add my two cents to this Wikipedia subject.

  11. This is a new day for Bridgeport, Steel Point is coming and Mr. Ayala can help move Bpt forward. Please leave race and negativity out of this. Please.

  12. The outcome of this race–the voters coming out to vote for their favorite candidate. And if Americo is going out there and saying those things about either candidate, shame on him. I know he is entitled to voice his opinion. I still remember the gossip he started about Chico … yes, Chico was a little delicate with his health. But it was not A.S.’s story to tell and putting it out there. R.I.P. Chico!

  13. Andy, it is not all of the ministers; in fact there are a number of ministers who want no part of political candidates and incumbents speaking at their church but there are others who will jump at anything that will help them get a building permit or something through zoning or whatever issue they feel the mayor can help them with. Finch and Testa keep them in line by assisting them and by placing certain ones on boards and commissions to keep them in line for whatever Finch and Testa need approved and passed. This is an old plan that has worked for years; reward a few to keep the masses in place.


Leave a Reply