What, A Republican In The East End? Ganim Juggles Shaban Friendship, Walks Himes’ Tightrope

Shaban, Ganim
Republican congressional candidate John Shaban, second from left, with Mayor Joe Ganim, right, in front of City Hall on Wheels in the East End.

A Republican was spotted in the East End over the weekend. When it comes to the African American-rich Democratic neighborhood in the state’s largest city where Democratic Mayor Joe Ganim ran up large pluralities last year, Republican political players have gone the way of the 8-track player. GOP congressional candidate John Shaban, a friend of the mayor, shared a photo of him with Joe on Shaban’s Twitter and Facebook page standing in front of the City Hall on Wheels vehicle, stationed in the East End, that the mayor announced last week would be visiting city neighborhoods. Shaban is challenging four-term Democratic incumbent Jim Himes.

“Handing out water and help to folks in the East End #Bridgeport,” Shaban wrote on social media Sunday. “Thanks to M. Ganim et al.”

Shaban is also a member of the Connecticut State House representing Easton, Redding and Weston. Ganim and Shaban became friends when their children attended school together.

Shaban’s congressional campaign also issued this news advisory about a Tuesday morning press event.

“Bridgeport Police Chief Armando Perez and Representative John Shaban will discuss the Bridgeport Police Department’s efforts to remove illegal firearms from the streets. Attendees will include local, state and federal law enforcement officials. Mayor Ganim’s office has been invited.”

Where? “Office of Chief Perez.”

Ganim will not attend the presser. He’s at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.

Perez is Ganim’s hand-picked chief who’d only be doing this event with a green light from Ganim. So Ganim is juggling a friendship while presumably supporting Democrat Himes. These things can become a tricky balancing act between friendship and practical politics. This is a crazy election cycle, but it would appear Shaban, a moderate, has a lot of work to do to take out the well-financed Himes and his strong base of support in the district in a presidential cycle in which voter performance increases in urban areas. Himes supported incumbent Bill Finch in his primary loss to Ganim in 2015, but Himes was among the first establishment pols supporting Finch to show his face in Ganim’s campaign headquarters after the primary.

Connecticut’s 4th Congressional District is an intriguing study of poverty smack up against enormous wealth. Jump on I-95 from the economically challenged East End and within 10 minutes some of the swankiest estates in the country are within reach. The district features 17 communities running from Bridgeport along Long Island Sound to Greenwich and inland to Easton, Weston and Redding. From 1968 to 2008 moderate Republicans Lowell Weicker, Stewart McKinney and Chris Shays occupied the seat. Himes won the seat in 2008 riding Barack Obama’s electoral tsunami winning only the three cities in the district–Bridgeport, Norwalk and Stamford–in blowouts to offset Shays’ suburban base. Himes has earned his own stripes as a moderate in the ensuing elections winning many of those suburban towns that have historically voted Republican.

For the most part Republican candidates and strategists just give up on urban voters without recognizing that winning is relative. You can win by losing if Republicans could figure out a way to increase their pathetic voter performance back to doable numbers. For 18 years, until 2008, Shays never performed under 30 percent in Bridgeport. With changing demographics and anemic messaging to urban voters GOP candidates are now hard pressed to crack 20 percent citywide.

Sometimes, little things mean a lot. The East End is one of those so-called food deserts. There’s no neighborhood grocery store. They shop, they want jobs, their kids attend schools, they pay taxes just like everyone else. Does anyone talk to them on an economic level that connects? It certainly can be a hard sell given the voter cynicism, but generally the Republican candidate, particularly during gubernatorial and presidential cycles, shows up for a feeble media event, and that’s it. They, and surrogates, never put the real time in it will take to increase margins.

Is Shaban different?



  1. Lennie wrote this, “The East End is one of those so-called food deserts. There’s no neighborhood grocery store. They shop, they want jobs, their kids attend schools, they pay taxes just like everyone else. Does anyone talk to them on an economic level that connects?” Well, Donald Day has been preaching this for a long time. I’ve been asking and saying where is the Republican Party in Bridgeport outreach program to bring blacks into their party? I’m a loyal Democrat but I strongly believe in a two-party system because that becomes the check and balance. Local Republicans don’t have to follow in the footsteps of the national Republican Party or the State Republican Party, instead deal with the local issues and talk to those who don’t look like you.

    As for Mayor Ganim, let’s not forget after Gamin won his election, Himes, Murphy, Blumenthal and Malloy wouldn’t be seen with the newly elected mayor of the largest city in the state and a big-time Democratic city. Forget Ganim, those four disrespected the voters of Bridgeport’s decision and those four didn’t give a damn about them.

    1. Ron, I’m not going to comment on this particular commentary, but as always I respect your response to it. This is probably something Ganim forgot in his quest to win the election, but Ron you know I don’t forget anything. When I assisted in Ganim’s election efforts, I distinctly remember always being aware white people and politicians stayed away from Ganim’s headquarters as they would a plague. However, one afternoon Jim H. walked in, unannounced and uninvited to talk and meet with Ganim. This is not an endorsement, just a reminder to the Mayor in case he forgot, no one but this politician came near him. I don’t know what they discussed, but I thought it was a kind gesture coming from a politician who didn’t need anything from Ganim. Ganim has always had a selective memory and an ungrateful heart. I’m curious to see how much territory the City Hall on Wheels actually covers before that effort ends up in the “to do later” box.

    2. Ron–You should be asking those questions to your own party. There’s no neighborhood grocery store. They shop, they want jobs, their kids attend schools, they pay taxes and vote Democrat. Where have they been for the last 12 years? It would seem their elected leaders don’t give a damn about them.

  2. This is truly unbe-F’n-lievable.
    Let’s say for instance Jim Himes has the lowest total votes out of Bridgeport since he ran and either loses or wins by a nose.
    Let’s furthermore assume the Dems win and gain control of both houses of Congress.
    What does Joe say? My friendship with a Republican running for Congress runs deeper than my commitment to my city?
    And what would he expect from the good congressman?
    This isn’t even a lifelong friend but merely someone he became acquainted with because their kids went to the same school.
    And remember, Joe was away for a lot of the time his kids were going to school locally.

  3. Lisa, Joe Ganim was given a chance by the voters of Bridgeport but during his first eight months in office Ganim has been a disappointment. President Reagan’s old adage about ‘trust but verify,’ well all one has to do is look at Ganim’s actions and it will verify he is doing a terrible job.

    1. Ron, a terrible person can only do a terrible job. On Saturday he blatantly ignored the Charter and swore in a BOE replacement. He’s coming closer to revealing the original Joe Ganim who skirted the rules and regulations as if he had a right to. Well he found out the hard way he can’t. For some reason I can’t see him do three years as a straight and narrow person. The cracks are starting to show and he can’t keep himself insulated forever. Eventually the spare employees surrounding him are going to have to get back to doing something constructive or he’s going to have to face another angry group of taxpayers demanding a justification for their high taxes that are paying his babysitters.

    2. Ron,
      More incredible in that if Joe had priorities it is up to him to set them out. Kind of like 1, 2 and 3, not up to the voters. But Joe has not done that. Therefore, disappointment because when you go to verify, you must invent “his priorities,” fail in your attempt to verify, or come to the conclusion Joe Ganim 2 is the same man morally, appearing as an older man in a different time, a later time with fewer remaining City resources, with expectations some higher level will rain down goodies, to make up for diminished energy levels of parties within the City? How’s that working out? Some say “terrible.” Time will tell.

  4. Joe knows kowtowing to the party and 4th-District Dems will get Bridgeport nothing ($=0), only lip service and condescension. He’s getting smart and learning how to “bargain” with the power structure.

    If Bridgeport doesn’t get respect and $ from the Democrats, then they won’t have such an easy time herding the Bridgeport electorate to the polls for the Party on election day.

    Good message, Joe. It doesn’t make any sense to blindly support a Party that has no solid urban agenda, much less any viable, specific plans for Bridgeport or Bridgeporters. (Beyond the obvious, exploitative, poverty-anchoring “servants quarters” plans.)

    Now, if you could come up with a high-value development, jobs-intensive plan for Bridgeport and get the various candidates and both parties to commit to it, Bridgeport might start to get more than lip service from Hartford and DC.

    Talk to everybody, D’s and R’s. Invite them to Bridgeport, and get the best deal for us. That’s what PT would be doing.


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