Weighing Statewide Run, Ganim Ponders Political Options

Mayor Joe Ganim must wait for at least two months before learning if he may qualify for a public campaign grant should he seek a long-shot statewide office in 2018. But will he wait that long before raising money? A slew of statewide candidates are already dialing for dollars.

Ganim has asked the State Elections Enforcement Commission to provide a declaratory ruling see here regarding a state law passed four years ago barring office-related felons from participation in the state’s Citizens Election Program that doles out public dollars to candidates who reach a fundraising threshold in small dollar amounts. The SEEC notified Ganim that decision will come in late June. The voluntary public financing program was created to eliminate big donor amounts and dark-money special interests following former Governor John Rowland’s conviction on public corruption.

The state legislature added an amendment four years ago after former State Senator Ernie Newton was charged with campaign finance fraud involving a public grant. Newton was convicted on a lesser charge, received six months and is appealing the decision.

Arnold Skretta, an elections lawyer representing Ganim, asserts there are constitutional issues such as unfairly applying the law retroactively to Ganim following his conviction on federal corruption charges in 2003. Courts generally disfavor laws applied retroactively.

Here’s was what passed.

(NEW) (5) Notwithstanding the provisions of this subsection, no candidate may apply to the State Elections Enforcement Commission for a grant from the fund under the Citizens’ Election Program if such candidate has been convicted of or pled guilty or nolo contendere to, in a court of competent jurisdiction, any (A) criminal offense under this title unless at least eight years have elapsed from the date of the conviction or plea or the completion of any sentence, whichever date is later, without a subsequent conviction of or plea to another such offense, or (B) a felony related to the individual’s public office, other than an offense under this title in accordance with subparagraph (A) of this subdivision.

Ganim’s lawyer argues if the state wants clean elections then it would require — not ban — the participation of individuals like Ganim and others similarly situated.

So, what are Ganim’s options meanwhile? He could form an exploratory committee to raise money for state office with a maximum personal contribution of $375. If the SEEC staff and commission rule in his favor he could roll that money into a full-blown candidate committee, but only donations of $100 and less could apply. If they rule against him he could march into court on constitutional grounds. If that fails he still has the option of raising money the old-fashioned way with large dollar donations, but that would undercut his second-chance narrative rejecting dark-money donations.

Candidates for governor running outside the public financing program, for instance, can receive a personal maximum contribution of $3,500. See contribution chart limits for nonparticipating CEP candidates here.

Ganim recently showed on a municipal level, where public financing is unavailable, he still is a mighty fundraiser amassing nearly $200K in one night for his 2019 mayoralty reelection. Ganim sees running statewide next year a free run. He still has a backup if he fails.

Or maybe Ganim says screw it, all of this is more trouble than it’s worth, and not play on a state level. With Ganim it will go day to day until he fundamentally decides to cross his Rubicon. It’s the Joe brain.



  1. There no way in Hell Joe well win the governorship just a few years into his come back, after just beating Finch by few hundred votes.

    He need some achievements here in Bridgeport. The two issues he ran on taxes and crime clearly are not in his favor.

    He can start by stopping the PSEG plant from being built on the water front and letting that land be developed into something more favorable for the city.

    I swear to God If you destroy this coast line with that plant and stop meaningful development. I hope God comes after you like you were the Pharaoh in freeing the Jew, and destroys your company like it was Sodom and Gomorrah and everyone connected to it. TWT.



  2. What Joe cannot do is point to his announced priorities as he ran, and as he has served and say HOW AM I DOING FOLKS?
    Folks would say:
    Education $$ for school operations?
    Police funding going through the roof with no end in sight and crime statistics trending lower than recent years?
    Outside attorney expense and settlements unfavorable to the City?? What’s the story?

    And where is Joe when the public is out talking about their tax and funding concerns? AWOL….Absent With Out Listening!!!

    And the Transparency card?? Having sat through Library and BOE budget hearings for about three hours last night and 2018 Capital budget hearings scheduled at 2:30 PM this afternoon, for 135 minutes as the only member of the public present, I can assure you that the Capital funding process and documents are not working as they might easily. But who is listening? This afternoon, 11 City employees were present, as were 6 City Council members and the person transcribing the discussions. Great flow of info, but the notice of this session only came out a couple days ago and clearly the public does not know about it…..

    It is the $66,388,308 of Capital requests approved (including amendment) last year as well as the current $12,420,475 listed this year.

    John Ricci speaking for Public Facilities as well as BOE projects because of the assignment of project supervision from O&G to his department indicated that his input is genuine “five year planning”, not just a “wish list”. In my book, that is excellent, however, each project listed should have an identity and description, that is updated from its initial presentation, unless it happens to be eliminated.

    Council persons cannot keep track of the individual items, their purpose, the assumptions or their timetables, and if they can’t find such info easily, then you can bet that neither can taxpayers. Open and transparent is the solution….and Ken Flatto and Nestor Nkwo can produce a solution that will please everyone.

    Incidentally, approval of a project and line item by the Council by inclusion in the Capital budget is only the first step. The list sits around City Hall at the moment and is NEVER updated for reporting back to the CC or the public on a Department website. More importantly the CC cannot keep track of timelines over several years.

    Some of last year’s Capital approvals were part of the bond funding in the fall, 2016, but not all of the items. What happens to items, initially approved, and subseqently overlooked for bonding? Shouldn’t we keep track of how priorities change? Should a vote to eliminate be held in the future, or combine in re-authorization? What about projects underway or completed? Where are the project fund balances? Does money ever get returned? To where? How noted? If the purpose changes for funds borrowed, does a taxpayer have a right to know?
    Maybe Mayor Ganim can huddle with Ed Adams and direct such “right to know” behavior? I’ll bring a camera for the photo-op. Time will tell.

  3. Bob (Bubba) Walsh, John Stafstrom, Pat Crossin, Chris Caruso, Andre Baker, Ed Gomes, Tom White just off the top of my head, they would have kept track of timelines, and projects as well as ask where, why and when. I believe it’s because they understood their responsibility to their constituents and the faith placed in them. There was interest and communication among those with stronger budgetary skills and experience, therefore, we all benefited as did the residents of Bridgeport.

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