Where’s The Energy? Dem Absentee Ballot Vault Lean

Lamont Ganim rally
Days after August primary, Ned Lamont and Joe Ganim at Democratic unity rally in Hartford. Photo courtesy of Frank Gerratana.

What a difference an election cycle makes. The August Democratic primary featured three aggressive races in Bridgeport: Mayor Joe Ganim’s challenge of party-endorsed Ned Lamont for governor, the State Senate battle between party-endorsed Dennis Bradley and Aaron Turner and the State House face-off between 126th District incumbent Charlie Stallworth and Shante Hanks. The Town Clerk’s Office received roughly 1,700 requests for absentee ballots with more than 1,000 returned by electors. With about two weeks left to the Nov. 6 general election so far it’s about 900 requests. What happened? A combination of factors.

The big event in Bridgeport, as well as statewide, is Lamont versus Republican Bob Stefanowski. Absentee ballots are worked when something’s on the line, or something’s in it for political operatives who know how to work their serial absentee ballot voters. So far local political operatives on the ground aren’t working it as intensely as the primary season. Contested races drive absentee ballot interest in the city, with political operatives banking votes prior to the actual day of voting. In a city 10 to 1 Democrat to Republican, this is where the Democratic line can run up hundreds of extra votes.

Although clubbed statewide by Lamont, Bridgeport was the one place Ganim won. Along the way Ganim’s political operation banked 705 absentee ballot votes in Bridgeport to Lamont’s 348. Bradley had 563 absentee ballot votes in a district that covers about two thirds of the city to Turner’s 226. In the State House race covering Whiskey Hill and portions of the North End and Upper East Side, Stallworth bagged 161 to Hanks’ 69. What does this all mean?

The on-the-ground synergy between Lamont’s camp and Bridgeport’s citywide political organization has not yet jelled, likely the residual of the scratchy primary season and the inability of the various campaign camps to settle on someone trusted to run the citywide coordinated operation.

The political camps of Congressman Jim Himes and U.S. Senator Chris Murphy, both of whom are expected to win reelection, are trying to juice urban turnout. That benefits Lamont who’s leading by single digits in most pols, certainly not comfy enough to leave anything to chance. In Connecticut, New Haven and Bridgeport are the powerhouses of urban turnout. Lamont, who had a modest primary presence in Bridgeport, has kicked up his visibility in the city the past few weeks as the home stretch commences. Ganim has been saying all the right things publicly about Lamont, but that has not translated down to a tight, organized field operation. Lamont has core supporters in Bridgeport but it’s hard to tell who’s bringing it all together with pockets of support here and there.

This weekend recognition took hold that a coordinated effort must kick up. Democratic Town Chair Mario Testa joined a number of party insiders at Lamont’s Main Street headquarters to help plan out the final two weeks.

Then there’s the State Elections Enforcement Commission ruling on Friday denying Bradley’s application for a $95,000 general election public campaign grant for a variety of election law violations including utilizing his law firm’s resources to supplement his campaign. Although that news will not blunt Bradley’s election chances given the massive Democratic registration advantage, it mutes nearly $100K spent on canvassing, turnout and absentee ballot mobilization. And a number of Bradley campaign workers will likely be stiffed without that loot.

But as one Democratic supporter of Lamont declared, citing Bridgeport’s notorious reputation for absentee ballot coveting, “Maybe that’s not such a bad thing.”

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17 comments

  1. It is a bad thing. Because it reenforces the mind set that if it does not impact me personally i.e. a personal payday I’m not gonna bother.
    Here’s hoping that this mindset does not impact the bottom line.

  2. Bubba, as of the last TC city-wide report, I was the only one responding to requests for AB’s in Brooklawn. I did this as a public service, I’m involved with any candidate or campaign.

  3. I bet if Joe ever won that primary and was running,there would be a couple thousand requests.Mario doesn’t seem to be too engaged this cycle,and thus,AB requests are way down.

  4. WIIFM “Whats In It For Me”?
    I worked for Ganim just for the good of the City and did not expect employment but I hoped for good leadership. It is not happening.
    Everybody got theirs, is what it boils down too. They are old and tired and fat dumb and happy. the City be Damned!

  5. how do any of the candidates find out who applied for an absentee ballot? I applied for one (issues with my back preclude me from standing for long periods of time). I received mine, filled it out and mailed it back. no one – not even my husband – knows who I voted for.

    one day last week, Senator Moore’s campaign left a flyer and a personalized letter from Senator Moore acknowledging the fact that I had applied for/received an absentee ballot, and that she hoped that I would vote for her. hmmm- first time I EVER got a letter from any candidate acknowledging that I vote by absentee ballot. I found that rather strange.

    and no. I didn’t save the letter – my husband tossed it before I could put it in a “safe” spot

  6. Len, I have neverr known the Town Clerk’s office to solicite ab applications, they have enough work processing the ones submitted by individuals and operatives in the City. Every candidate keep track of voters who supported them by voting by ab ballots. This is done by individual candidates, usually by paid staff. It’s not effective since there’s no follow up or reminders to return the ballot. Hence, the low number of ballots returned. Providing this service to those in need, some seniors, physically impared or those that will not be present election day is an arduous process, especially when done honestly. Information of past ab voters is easily accessible and some candidates either do not have an individual capable to address that part of their campaign, or their not willing to pay what that service is worth. This is what it’s come to, even those standing in front of preceints expect to be paid. I could be wrong, but I don’t think so. As a public service to the voters in my district I provided applications to anyone in need of one, they received no such letter. They called me and I made the time to accommadate them while not being involved with any candidate.

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