There’s No Holiday Like A City Primary

Who chimed we were done with city elections? In the state’s largest city primaries are sporting events. Too bad more voters don’t grab a ticket to join the gamesmanship. In September alone Dems had primaries for mayor, City Council, city sheriff, city clerk, town clerk and upcoming in March, perhaps, for something called the Bridgeport Democratic Town Committee. What the hell is that? Members of the town committee are political players who conduct party business including endorsing candidates for office and selecting a chairman. That would be Mario Testa. Many are on the city payroll or have a son, daughter, mother, father, aunt, uncle and several nieces and nephews on the payroll. What’s the point of political involvement if you cannot include the family?

The Democratic Party in the city has 90 DTC members, 9 for each of the 10 districts. The city’s lonely GOP has 50 members but is challenged to field all spots. (Please, you really don’t have to do anything, just fill a spot!) Town Chair Mario Testa doesn’t appear to have a challenge for reelection in March so he’s a lock for another two-year term. But could there be a few town committee primaries that bring new faces?

Opponents to the status quo have posted their frustration on OIB with the city’s political leadership. One way to take them on is to run a town committee challenge slate that petitions its way on the ballot. Slates aren’t based on winner takes all. Technically it’s every man/woman for themself, each slate member’s name appearing on the ballot, but mostly they try to run as a team. Wipe out the old, bring in the new sort of thing. Mario actually made his comeback as party leader as a result of town committee primaries in 2008.

One area of the city to watch is the 131 District that covers the South End and downtown. District leader Mitch Robles pretty much has had his way the past several years controlling his district, but something odd happened in the September mayoral primary between Bill Finch and Mary-Jane Foster.

Foster defeated Finch on the machines at Roosevelt School and ran close at the City Hall precinct. Why? Foster is an executive at the University of Bridgeport and her campaign registered a bunch of students who voted for her at Roosevelt School. As for the City Hall voting area, the city has attracted a growing group of young, active professionals filling new housing units downtown.

One area where insurgents could make hay is the 131 District. But in order to do that they must attract students to the polls and downtown voters who supported Foster. Can they? If you think turnouts for high-profile races are pathetically low–and they are–imagine what they’d be for a town committee race. But if the incumbent slate doesn’t get off its ass they could be caught napping. Ya never know.

Uh oh, better fire up that absentee ballot operation.



  1. This is it, come and get it. All those who WANT to make real change in Bridgeport, this is the first big step, just run for a spot on the Democratic Town Committee. Mayor Finch and Mario Testa do not want you to know anything about this election because this is where the real power is.

  2. Members of this blog are in denial according to astute political observers, none of whom are anxious to post here. Local Eyes has seen his value rise and looks forward to advancing his political goals which do not require election.
    Jackpots are everywhere in Bridgeport. Discovering them releases another desire to succeed and limits the damage done by the doomfreaks who popularize this blog.

  3. Well, our web padrone picked out the one district that might be interesting, but he’s probably a couple years ahead of himself.

    The City Hall precinct of the 131st would be a nice, compact place to start a little row. Virtually all new people who may not see the wisdom in the traditional Bridgeport way of doing things. Downtown still needs a lot of work. An energetic local population would be a lot noisier than a bunch of suits from out of town. Once you soak them for their campaign contributions the biz people are easy to ignore.

    Developing a college precinct in Roosevelt from the University of Bridgeport is problematic since most of the faculty lives elsewhere. Students are too busy studying, getting blitzed and getting together (in reverse order?) to be a political factor.

    Mitch has uncontested control on State Street and probably more than enough elsewhere.

    Would be fun to see.

  4. I disagree about the student political power. The kids who live in dormitories are eligible to register to vote. They can be organized very quickly forming a Young Democrats Club and could vote in a pack. There could easily be 100 or 200 or more from UB alone. Sacred Heart has a lot of kids living off campus in Bridgeport. The same thing. An eager candidate could organize a student group and pick up another 1000 votes possible. MJF had a real good shot at doing that at UB but didn’t. Finch would have run out of the campus on his ass. It might have worked for her.

    Besides. The dumb people of Bridgeport simply will not get off their asses and get out and vote. That is abundantly clear, year after year after year.

    A wise candidate for Mayor will forgo a primary and register right away as an independent and go straight to the general election.

    Testa is too powerful to lose a primary. He has demonstrated that for the past 25 years. Why try?

    If MJF had anybody else for a campaign manager, they might have given that some thought.

    On another topic. The airways are full of stories about John DeStefano, Mayor of New Haven, proposing to the legislature to allow illegal immigrants to vote. What an asshole. The people who enter legally and contribute to the local societies and have Green Cards can’t vote. Yet he wants the illegals to vote. Amazing.

  5. Great topic, Lennie! Let me see if I can get some facts right, in this relatively little-known part of Bridgeport politics. Correct me if I am wrong …
    – The Town Committee endorses the City Council
    – They also endorse state Senators
    – They have their own PAC
    – Want to run? Ask chair of existing slate
    – They said no? Get 8 others in separate slate
    – You actually could run without others on your own
    – Elections are like a race, all top number vote winners are elected, whichever slate
    – Really want to run? Get “Consent” form available at Registrar in January

    Democratic Registrar
    Registrar of Voters
    202 State Street, Room 103 Bridgeport, CT
    Phone: 203-576-7281

  6. yahooy. Further to your comment about New Haven, John DeStefano proposing to the Connecticut Legislature that illegal immigrants be given the right to vote.

    This is nothing more than a desperate move on the part of Democrats all over the country to ensure they can stay in office. Illegals will flock to the polling places to put a Democrat in especially if it means broader access to entitlements.

    Pathetic, isn’t it. Obama has done a terrible job and is unworthy of remaining in office, but nobody wants this gaggle of Republican clowns elected either. The Democrats know giving illegals the right to vote will benefit them greatly.

    My guess? It will never happen and DeStefano has blown any chance he had for any further public office including his mayoralty.

  7. Despite its detractors, the DTC doesn’t just dominate Democrats; it controls politics here, too. It’s not by natural selection Democrats flourish here, it’s by stamp-of-approval. Critics underestimate the DTC’s political firepower across both parties. The DTC is atop the heap until things change and there’s nothing to suggest they will. Even the DTC’s critics are unmotivated to do the work and hope others will fill the role.
    Here’s what the recent primary suggested: if you want to defeat the machine, you’d better build one of your own. Hence: The Package, which included many disenfranchised Democrats from earlier campaigns.

    P.S.–don’t be surprised if Bridgeport’s Economic Developer finds a way to “stitch” together several brownfield properties to create a development-worthy site.


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