Saying he has passion for the city, John Fabrizi on Tuesday formed an exploratory committee for mayor seeking to reclaim the office he occupied for nearly five years following the resignation of Joe Ganim after Ganim’s conviction on corruption charges in 2003. Bill Finch replaced Fabrizi as mayor when he did not seek a second four-year term in 2007. Finch is expected to seek a third four-year term in 2015 and has already raised nearly $200,000 for the task. Fabrizi becomes the first potential Finch challenger to take this step.
Fabrizi has been itching to position for his old job after Democratic party regulars prevailed upon him not to seek another term after he urged a judge to show leniency on behalf of a sexual offender who was friends with his son. Following the political fallout, a Democratic party poll showed Fabrizi could not defeat party maverick Chris Caruso in a Democratic primary so party leaders urged him not to seek reelection. They recruited Finch, then a state senator, for the job and he defeated Caruso in a tight September 2007 primary.
After his mayoralty, Fabrizi returned to his former position with the Board of Education as director of Adult Education. He will retire from the position next month which will free him up to raise money and test voter support for a possible full-blown candidate committee. Many political operatives say Fabrizi would be a viable contender for Finch’s job, contrasting his tenure as mayor with Finch’s nearly seven years, if Fabrizi can raise the money. It’s a big if.
When Fabrizi became mayor and won a four-year term, the money was raised largely by political operatives. Now he must make the ask for moolah. Finch’s political structure knows how to raise money irrespective of Finch losing support in some neighborhoods after three straight tax increases and administrative gaffes that include the $500,000 cost involving developer Manny Moutinho improving his own property as part of an airport safety plan. Finch political operatives believe the mayor will be well positioned for reelection next year in anticipation of construction of mega outdoor retailer Bass Pro Shops on the Steel Point redevelopment area, plans for a new Harding High School and public access to the long-closed Pleasure Beach.
Fabrizi has been making the rounds touching base with political operatives about a comeback. While just about every other former mayor headed for the suburbs after leaving office, Fabrizi has remained in Bridgeport living in the North End. Others are weighing their options for mayor, including Mary-Jane Foster who challenged Finch in a Democratic primary in 2011.
Fabrizi’s entry may force the hand of other potential candidates to announce sooner for fear he could poach support from them. Fabrizi issued this statement today:
Today, I am pleased to announce the formation of an Exploratory Committee to assess the viability of announcing my candidacy to serve the citizens of Bridgeport as Mayor. I have formed this committee to gauge both public and financial support for my return to the Mayor’s office. I have made the decision to form this Exploratory Committee after significant self-reflection, conversations with family and friends, and a number of personal conversations with citizens the City of Bridgeport, a city for which I have always held a deep and abiding passion. Through this Exploratory Committee, I intend to bring the issues of taxation, economic development, public safety, education, and open government to the forefront of the political discussion in our city. I believe that my demonstrated record of accomplishment in each of these areas places me in a unique position to build a better Bridgeport.