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When A Mayor Loses Support Can He Make New Friends?

August 2nd, 2011 · 41 Comments · Analysis and Comment, City Politics, Development and Zoning, Education

Primaries are weird ducks. They’re not like higher turnout general elections. In the world of primaries you identify your friends and drag them out to vote. You could enter primary day thinking you’re okay and then all of a sudden–oops!–your friends stayed home, or you failed to coax them to vote. That’s when you grab the voter checkoff sheets. Jesus, my brother didn’t vote!

Four years ago, when Bill Finch narrowly defeated Chris Caruso in a Democratic mayoral primary, the following campaign operatives (as a small example) who either worked for Finch or didn’t work against his primary win are now trying to unseat him: Michele Mount, Rina Bakalar, Nancy Hadley, Caryn Kaufman, Mary-Jane Foster, Charlie Coviello, Ed Gomes, Marilyn Moore, Andy Fardy, Pat Fardy, Ann Barney, Joel Gonzalez, Danny Martinez, Bruce Hubler, John Guman. Who are these people? Some, such as Ed Gomes (state senator) are elected officials, others (Foster) are challenging Finch on the ballot, still others such as Hubler, a retired executive, switched parties to support Foster, with the rest joining the mission to try to help Foster defeat Finch in September. Most live in Bridgeport and those who don’t have friends, family members and co-workers in the state’s largest city who could influence votes. This sounds like inside baseball but primaries are all about inside baseball. Folks who suited up for Finch four years ago are now working for Team Foster for a variety of reasons.

What’s the point? When a mayor loses support following a close election that put him in office, can he win new friends to offset the losses? In 2007 Finch received roughly 4,500 Democratic primary votes to Caruso’s 4,200. Power of incumbency can be a big advantage–you own the candy store with a daily platform to schmooze voters and make things happen to make your case for another four years, as well as leveraging support of party regulars to turn out the vote. But weaknesses can also be exploited by former supporters. For example, candidate Finch promised to cut taxes $600 (he did not), promised to pump more money into education, lower class size and improve test scores (he did not), promised to reopen Pleasure Beach (he has not), promised to break ground at the Steel Point redevelopment area (he has not yet).

When Joe Ganim served as Democratic mayor from 1991-2003, before scandal forced him from office, he had not even a sniff of a primary. John Fabrizi, who replaced Ganim, survived a primary as mayor in 2003 and was headed for another tough primary in 2007 when he was thrown under the bus by party regulars in favor of Finch, after asking a state judge for leniency on behalf of a sexual predator who was friends with his son. Voters freaked and Fabs’ political support ran for cover.

When you talk to former Finch supporters backing Foster they say Finch’s word is no good, frame him as an out-of-touch narcissist who parses the truth, communicates poorly and surrounds himself with evil asskissers. Baloney, say Finch supporters, the whiners are greedy malcontents who didn’t get what they wanted and now seek revenge for their selfishness and bloated egos.

Whatever the reasons a whole bunch of folks who supported Finch four years ago now support Foster and the other challenger in the primary, John Gomes. Many of them had lots of passion on behalf of Finch four years ago. Is the passion against him today greater than the effort for him yesterday?

A big question: where will all the Caruso voters end up? Maybe that’s where Finch makes new friends?

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41 Comments so far ↓

  • Antitesto

    Lennie,
    Evil Asskissers, what a great line. The ebb & flow of politics is like the tides. A benign rain can produce a flood. I believe we are about to see Gomes produce one. He will become a tsunami that engulfs this election. I continue to encourage MJF to join Gomes’ camp to change our future.

  • lisawhite

    It’s called karma. You can’t make promises you know you can’t keep and treat people like garbage and not have it come back and bite you on the backside.

  • town committee

    Back in 2007 I made one of the biggest mistakes I ever made when it comes to politics. I voted for Finch, worked the polls in both the primary and the general election and ran a phone bank all for Finch.
    I could not support Caruso because he was a one-trick pony. He kept yelling corruption and produced no proof. Had he provided proof I probably would have voted for him.
    When did I learn I made a mistake? On election day Finch said to me at Hooker School “I don’t know how I am going to be able to rebate $600 in property taxes.” I knew right then I made a mistake. It will never happen again.
    One of the reasons I am so involved in this campaign is so I can correct the mistake I made in 2007.
    I have looked at both MJF and John Gomes and at this time I believe MJF is the best person to lead this city.
    I think Gomes can one day be mayor but needs more governmental experience. If John Gomes keeps broadening his experience he can one day be mayor, if he doesn’t he will join the scrap pile as another former candidate for mayor. John, it’s your choice.

  • Bridgeport Girl

    There are MANY more people working behind the scenes for MJ Foster. For example, city employees who have witnessed first hand the destruction caused by inept, arrogant dept heads appointed by Finch. Ladies and gentlemen, the infrastructure of City government is crumbling. Your tax dollars are paying the salaries of outsiders like Wood, Nunn, Norton–people with no clue how to run a city yet they are in positions of great authority and collecting big salaries. Long-term employees don’t recall it ever being this bad. We need a change and we need it now before it is too late.

    • Vigilante

      The same goes for the presidency in 2012 … we need a change (for the better) and fast … you can’t pay out more than you take in. Luckily the U.S. gov’t prints money; CT can’t.

  • Ronin

    Everyone knows you can’t teach old dogs new tricks.

    Old dogs already know how to roll in other animals’ poop, eat cat turds, and scoot around your carpets on their rear ends. You simply need to train them so they only do these things when you’re not around.
    What government experience does MJF have?
    I lived in Fairfield my whole life, sat on every board and commission for over 30 years. I knew all the players on both sides, MJF was not a player. She never sat on any Board or Commission I was on, or the RTM.
    John Gomes has more experience in Bridgeport government than MJF has, hands down!
    tc, sorry you picked another loser.
    BTW next time check your facts!

    • town committee

      I got my facts straight you are a bald-faced liar. You are anti testo. You can hide behind JF’s resume but I know it’s bullshit.

      • Antitesto

        tc,
        Everyone is anti testo.

      • The Bridgeport Kid

        Will you two just stop the bullshit, please? All this petty bickering will not accomplish anything constructive. Gomes’ campaign staff is jumping ship, his poll numbers are fast approaching the left side of the gauge, and former supporters of Bill Finch are lining up at Mary-Jane Foster’s door to help advance her campaign over the finish line on September 13th. The primary objective we all share is the greater good of the people of the city of Bridgeport. Nothing else comes close to that in importance. Put your fragile egos in check, for just another five weeks. You can bitch-slap each other to kingdom come after that.

    • town committee

      When did MJF live in Fairfield???

  • Ron Mackey

    town committee, seeing you are talking about personal mistakes in the last election for mayor I’ll confess my mistake. As a supporter of Chris Caruso in the last election I feel I could have gotten more people out to vote for Chris. I invited Chris to come to Mt. Aery Baptist Church with Donald Day and myself and he was well received. What we found out later is there were those playing the race card against Chris saying he was a racist. That was (and is) an out-and-out lie and that was something many of us saw for ourselves of the years of service Chris did for the residents all over Bridgeport and not just in his own district. I along with others told Chris he needed to pull back with the corruption line but to no avail. I’m sure there are 136 Bridgeport voters who now wish they had changed their vote for Finch and voted for Chris Caruso.

  • donj

    Looks like I can blame the above posters for electing Bill Finch!!! I never even voted in 2007.

  • Ron Mackey

    donj, no, you are also a part of the election of Bill Finch because you made a political decision not to vote thereby helping Finch to win.

  • donj

    yahooy … Exactly.

  • MCAT

    I believed in Bill Finch, I worked for his 2006 Senate campaign and 2007 Mayoral campaign. I went from full-time work to half-time work in the City Attorney’s office in order to spend more time campaigning. That’s when the knot in my stomach began. It stayed there until June of 2008 when I left the administration.
    Bill Finch lied to me. Repeatedly. He lied to others. Bill had this crazy notion if you told someone what they wanted to hear they would be happy. I pointed out they would only be happy if you came through; he disagreed. So instead of being upfront with people and giving them the truth, he lied and every time it came back to bite him. When Bill was Mayor my title was Director of Legislative Affairs and Special Advisor to the Mayor, except no one ever took my advice. The major one being they should not put forth this $600 property tax credit knowing full well it would never happen; the City couldn’t afford it and legislation on the State level was needed. All I heard was, “I can’t win without saying it.” It’s not that I minded them not taking my advice; rather it was the ruinous path they chose to take. Bill hated the fact I could tell him, “I told you so more times than he cared to hear.” Adam hated that I said anything at all. I hated not being in an environment I felt comfortable in or associated with an administration I wasn’t proud of. So I left to focus on my own town and where I could still have somewhat of a say in regional and state government. I strongly believe a healthy City center impacts the whole region. So when people ask why do you care so much about Bridgeport when you don’t live here, I say, “Bridgeport is where I worked for 6 years, went to school for 3 years, volunteered my time, it is the City to my suburb, it houses the Hospitals, Colleges, Sports Arena, Ballpark and great restaurants; why would anyone not want Bridgeport to be a great success?” I also feel an obligation to give back and fight for those who haven’t found their voice yet. This is why I am volunteering for Mary-Jane Foster, I am proud to work for her and I think Bridgeport, its people, the region and State have the best chance of an improved Bridgeport and to be proud of their City with Mary-Jane at the helm. If Mary-Jane saw her friend getting beat up on the playground, she would jump in to help. Sadly, my friend Bill sat on the sidelines and hid his head.

  • yahooy

    Finch made a hell of a lot more promises to the gullible than his historic $600 outright lie.

    (Remember people, that $600 was not solely a Finch brain fart. The calamarians knew the voting public would lap that up and vote for the $600 not the man. LIES LIES and MORE LIES TO COME.) These same people are pulling every dirty trick imaginable to keep life as they know it alive and well. Scary times.

    I took a lot of guff from the Finchies last time because I was so vehemently opposed to his candidacy. The Pollyanna rhetoric was flowing at every post. “Give the man a chance;” “He’s a nice guy;” He’s well connected in Hartford.” Then the firings started and the tide of flatulent platitudes subsided but the stink remained.

    I was right then and I am right now. This time I have more people who agree with me.

    We have got to do everything we can to send Mario Testa and Paul Timpanelli packing. Right now, Bridgeport is like a blank canvas waiting for the artist to turn the canvas into a thing of beauty. We have had bullshit artists at the easel for too long.

    I want “THE PACKAGE” in office this time. It’s important to us all.

  • yahooy

    With due respect to MCAT and all the others who claim they were duped by Bill Finch … where were your heads? Why were you not aware that Finch was nothing more than a papier-mâché puppet PLACED in office by the “Business as usual” crowd.

    Some of you claim, not just MCAT, you questioned the $600 lie, but were rebuffed. I ask all of you now … why the hell didn’t you jump ship when the lie was propagated? Couldn’t you see the forest through the trees? Or were you more interested in what you had or were promised? Perspicacity perhaps.

    We, you former Finchettes, we need you now to EXPOSE the bastards for what they are.

    • MCAT

      Mea culpa, I fall on my sword. While I don’t feel I have to justify myself to yahooy, there are many answers to that question. It took a while to figure out just because Bill said it, that didn’t make it true. The full extent of the $600.00 issue didn’t really hit home until there were several bills presented in the legislature to give homestead exemptions and the Mayor did not want anything to with them. Up until that point I held out hope he would make good on at least the promise to get it passed in the legislature and sometime in the next four years we could give that exemption. Also, he was still Senator and did not introduce any enabling legislation to get a homestead exemption. There were other promises made about how different the campaign staff would be versus the make-up of the staff. That didn’t happen. I spent much of the first months of his administration in Hartford working on some meaningful energy legislation and other issues with Malloy and DeStefano to help cities. When that was done, it was time for me to go. You know what they say, fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me. Pollyanna lives, but sometimes she makes some confidence-shaking mistakes. Now I ask you please yahooy to let it be and move on to the good things we can do under a Foster administration. Thank you,
      MCAT aka Michele

      • yahooy

        You may have noticed yahooy did not ask you to justify yourself. We cannot afford to make the mistakes you and “The Oh My Gosh” crowd made last time. This time it’s important. It’s serious. There is no room for cover my own ass political loyalties.

        This time we agree. MJF has all the earmarks of someone who can bring this city back to prominence and prosperity. She should not permit job seekers in her camp. Flip-floppers who opt for the best deal. I don’t suggest that is you. As a matter of fact, I would support you in a paid watchdog role as an attorney.

        I want you to use your best influence to get MJF on board with “THE PACKAGE.” It’s our best hope.

    • Vigilante

      All they had to do was to look at Finch’s resume. He never held a full-time job more than 1 or 2 years in his life. He is what we call in the business community an “Empty Suit,” all style and NO SUBSTANCE!!!

  • Jim Callahan

    It’s nice to see the OIB confessional is open today.

    “Sinners repent!”

    I am happy to be here to bear witness to your sincere cries for political forgiveness, my brothers and sisters under McLevy.

    Maybe the only one who should be allowed to vote is donj.
    ;)

    OK, Lennie has a nice list of people who have bolted Hizzoner. Where are some of the other guys and gals who were with Caruso? Where are the silent ones alluded to, the old ones lurking in yonder hills of the North End, the alluvial plains of the East End, the swamps of the South End, in the Brie and Black Rock?

    These are the people who have real or imagined indignities. Some are mischief makers, the ones so aptly described by our former dear President Bush as “the evildoers.” They are the rumormongers at the Charles Street diner and similar places where people peaceably plot political pandemics.

    Come out, come out, wherever you are …

  • yahooy

    “peaceably plot political pandemics”

    Perspicacity personified.

  • yahooy

    Oh, I meant to answer your question about former Caruso supporters. That would be me. Why did I support him? When I looked into the bottom of the barrel, I saw two rotted apples. I picked the less offensive and continually made the basis of my choice known. Chris would not have made a stellar mayor but he would have done leagues better than Finch and by now El Squid and Timpanelli would be just bad memories.

  • yahooy

    Thanks Keith “Cougar” Rodgerson. Gomes … you catching my drift?

  • Corrupticut

    My biggest concern with MFJ’s candidacy is can she pass the nuclear bombs which we all know will be coming from the Finch camp. He has a lot of money and you know he will spend every penny of it to discredit her if he thinks it will help him win. If there’s anything to dig up, he will leave no stone unturned to find it. The city bailed out the Bluefish and you know he will find every ugly detail about that, as well as anything her husband may have ever done, and magnify and spin it until it takes on a life of its own. And he is waiting to unleash it until it’s too late for her to recover from it. Can she overcome that hurdle?

  • yahooy

    Chicken feed compared to the daily sets of lies Finch has perpetrated since he took office.

    • Corrupticut

      This is not about what is true and what is not. Politics is not about truth–it’s about what you can sell. It’s not exactly unheard of for people to have lined their own pockets at the expense of taxpayers in dealings on that level and Finch is not above putting that out there. If you throw enough s**t against the wall, some of it is bound to stick.

  • donj

    I AGREE WITH YAHOOY 100%, WHAT WERE Y’ALL THINKING VOTING FOR FINCH? Even though I could not vote I wanted Caruso to win. I remember being on this site when it was Fairfield County only in bridgeport. I was cheering for Caruso the entire time. When I saw the first numbers come in 317 Caruso and 318 for Finch from Black Rock school I knew it would be a long night for Caruso. If he lost in an area like this I doubt he would have won the rest of the city. Lennie, do you think Finch will get blown out at Wilbur Cross like he did in 2007?

    • LennieGrimaldi

      No. If the primary vote were today, Finch wins Wilbur Cross. Foster has a lot of work to do in that precinct. Having support from State Senator Ed Gomes will help, but he cannot do it alone. Caruso represented Cross voters in the state legislature and has a strong following there.

  • The Bridgeport Kid

    The playing field is rapidly leveling. Carolanne Curry left the Gomes campaign, his poll numbers are dropping to practically nothing, and every intelligent person who worked for Finch’s administration and previous campaign are knocking on Mary-Jane Foster’s door asking “How can I help?” Endorsements and campaigning aside, they can and are helping by exposing the incumbent as a liar with all the sincerity of a reptile.

    This is not a presidential race that unfolds over two years. This is a mayoral race occurring in real time.

  • Lake Forest Guy

    From finchformayor.com
    As Mayor, I took a pay cut each year, in addition to holding taxes down and reduced spending three years in a row.

    Is it my understanding he just gave himself a raise?

  • Mojo

    *** Political promises of some type of power & money positions talks loudly in Bpt’s “whats in it for me then my peeps” politics, no? *** GROUNDHOG DAY ***

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