Update: Democratic Town Committee chair vote. After four ballots Mario Testa one vote short of chairmanship. Will report back soon.
When you control the candy store with a cane poised over someone’s head, chances are the head gets ahead of the heart.
At the point of a bayonet, real or imagined, several Bridgeport Democratic Town Committee members on the city payroll (or hope to be) have succumbed to Mayor Bill Finch’s overtures to vote for John Stafstrom as party leader tonight. We’ll find out later if it’s enough to keep Stafstrom in power, or if it goes to former chair Mario Testa, or Black Rock District Leader Danny Roach.
One thing’s for sure, it looks like a nail biter. It appeared the other day Testa had just over the 46 votes needed to become chair, but a few town committee members on the payroll at the mayor’s urging have switched commitments. When it’s this close, a kingmaker may emerge at the last minute.
Bridgeport’s Democratic Town Committee has 90 members, 9 in each of the 10 districts in the city, so 46 is the magic number for victory.
In discussions I’ve had with town committee members, they spoke of phone-call relentlessness from the various camps, particularly the mayor. Some are holding firm with their commitments, some are just terrified about losing their job. When a mayor calls and says I need your vote (and you work at his discretion) for some the decision is easy, for others it’s a nightmare, especially if you’ve committed to another candidate.
I have not seen a mayor weigh in this hard to deliver his candidate for party leadership since Mayor Thomas Bucci handed out jobs like they were nickels and dimes to sway town committee members to support Chris Caruso more than 20 years ago. Yes, the same Chris Caruso that recently came within a whisker of becoming mayor.
Bucci had committed to support Caruso for city council president to the late North End political leader Richard Pinto in exchange for Pinto’s support for mayor. Something backfired on the way to the vote. Enough council members rebelled to sway the vote to Lisa Parziale. To keep the peace with a steaming Pinto and Caruso, Bucci threw the town chair John Guman under the bus in favor of Caruso. (Guman is the late husband of East Side District Leader Dottie Guman who’s not happy with Finch’s heavy insertion into delivering Stafstrom.) It was a war leading to a lot of bad blood. Bucci was forced to sell the store to secure enough votes to deliver Caruso. Bucci and Caruso were never a good marriage. Two years later, Guman was town chair again.
The difference here is that Finch doesn’t have the jobs to hand out that Bucci did, placing a premium on making sure town committee members on the payroll do not stray.
If Finch delivers Stafstrom tonight it may do more harm than good. Sounds like he’s breaking too many bones over this, and the observation to the outside world from a guy that promised to be different, open, honest and transparent, stinks.
Finch is showing a narcissism I had not thought existed. Interesting about this whole thing. Finch is now being accused of exercising the heavyhandedness he’s associating with Mario Testa to woo votes away. The difference is that Mario isn’t/wasn’t mayor. Finch is. Governing without credibility is senseless.