Young Dem Antonio Felipe Wins State House Special Election Over Insurgent Kate Rivera

Antonio Felipe, center, with supporters on Tuesday in front of Bassick High School precinct.

Antonio Felipe, 23 years old, won Tuesday’s special election to fill the 130th State House seat of the late Ezequiel Santiago, holding off an insurgent challenge from former school board member Kate Rivera his closest rival, according to unofficial returns.

Rivera waged an extraordinary race as an outsider to the political establishment winning the machine count by roughly 40 votes covering four precincts, but it was the mighty absentee ballot operation of the city’s political organization in a large senior citizen district that carried Democratic-endorsed Felipe to victory. Felipe won the absentee ballot count 212 to 53 over Rivera. Felipe is the son of Ruben Felipe, former deputy chief of staff to ex-Mayor Bill Finch.

Kate Rivera, the lioness, with daughters Kalani and Angel at Bassick.

Three other candidates Republican Josh Parrow and former state representatives Christina Ayala and Hector Diaz trailed far behind.

Overall, according to unofficial returns, combining absentee ballots, Felipe 466, Rivera 343, Ayala 72, Diaz 67, Parrow 39.

The district covers Downtown, South End, and portions of the West End and East Side.

Felipe, who was raised in the district and returned recently to Bridgeport after residing in Stratford for about a year, put in long hours knocking on doors in heavily Hispanic and senior citizen neighborhoods backed by veteran political operatives who haven’t always been on the same side. Both Finch and Mayor Joe Ganim supported his candidacy. Ganim defeated Finch in the 2015 primary for mayor.

Lieutenant Governor Susan Bysiewicz and Attorney General William Tong both campaigned for Felipe in the days leading to the special election.

Antonio Felipe and father Ruben embrace after win.

Felipe was groomed for politics by his father Ruben, a seasoned campaign operative who’s built strong relationships in city and state politics over the past 15 years. Prior to serving Finch, Ruben Felipe worked in the mayoral administration of John Fabrizi.

The younger Felipe served for several years on the Democratic Town Committee as part of a new youth movement in the party. In a short time he became a popular figure with both veteran political operatives and new pols of his generation.

Felipe will take his seat this week as the youngest member of the State House pondering an assortment of state issues in the Connecticut General Assembly such as commercial marijuana, tolls, sports betting and expanded gaming.

Rivera proved herself a worthy opponent to the political establishment becoming the first petitioning candidate in a special election to qualify for a full public grant under the state’s campaign finance program, a laborious effort that required more than 700 petition signatures of district electors in a short timeframe to receive the public dough.

Both Rivera and Felipe had roughly $25,000 to spend in a compressed cycle. The special election was called following the death of Santiago in March.

Statement from Felipe:

“This was a hard fought campaign and I want to thank my supporters while extending an olive branch to my opponents. I look forward to representing everyone as a state representative. Bridgeport is my home and I promise to fight tirelessly for working-class Bridgeporters every single day at the state capitol. As a state representative, I’ll advocate for a $15 minimum wage, protect a woman’s right to choose, and safeguard access to affordable healthcare.”

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50 comments

  1. Kate Rivera is the true winner. She ran an election without AB fraud.

    We know Antonio Felipe could never say the same.

    I think that Kate Rivera has shown she is a viable candidate and should run for state rep. In 2020.

  2. The DTC stole another election while telling the people of this district to go fluck themselves. How long and how many more elections will the will of the people be abridged by Mario, Mayor Ganim and the AB thieves of Bridgeport?

    When you can’t find a lackey in Bridgeport you can find one in another city and bring them to Bridgeport. Bridgeport, when is enough, enough? Bridgeport when are going to quit being used by a myriad of shysters who have showed time and time again that they don’t give a damn about you or this city? ONLY IN BRIDGEPORT! DAMN SHAME!

  3. Congratulations to the winner State Rep. Elect. Antonio Felipe. He is the true winner and only winner. He had run a very positive campaign. Never have I heard anyone comment that a negative word was said about the other candidates. I am proud of that. I know the Santiago family is very pleased. I know the party will come together again when this young democrat runs again! He will support the delegation and the Mayor and will.bring money back to the city. I have faith and know under the guidance of Christopher Rosario and Dennis Bradley he will learn alot. I have worked on many campaigns with this young man. I know him and I gave faith in him. I wish him the best of luck as he meets his destiny. I hope he keeps his education on the front burner as he grows into his new life. Having just watched the Victory party and listened to the speeches, it was clearly a very very emotionally packed room. As always , I thank all of the candidates for wanting to serve the city. I thank everyone that remained positive to put Antonio Felipe over the top.

  4. Is it true that Antonio Felipe does not even have a drivers license???

    If Kate had just taken 55 ABs from Antonio, she would have prevailed.

    1. Based on the revised numbers posted by Lennie, Kate only had to shift 63 votes from Antonio Felipe to herself to prevail.

      Antonio Felipe, it is you who went “low.” You had zero shot of winning with your fraudulent AB operation.

      Your press release states what you will be fighting for. You forgot your pledge to privatize our public schools and always support Charter $chools.

  5. Congratulations Kate. You ran a hell of a race against tremendous odds. Stand tall and know that you have a bright political future ahead of you.

  6. Is Ruben Felipe going to pack Antonio Felipe’s lunch for the legislature? Who is going to hold Antonio Felipe’s hand and walk him to the potty? Who’s going to strap Antonio Felipe into his booster seat? They can play Antonio Felipe”s favorite song ,Baby Shark, all the way up to Hartford.

    The possibilities are endless….:)

  7. I cannot believe how many dumb ass people in Bridgeport. It’s embarrassing. I now longer want any connection with Bridgepiet CT. It’s on my birth certificate but I can’t change that. Too many stupid people in Bridgeport.

  8. With the AB fraud in this city the way it is, it’s next to impossible to win a small turnout vote like this. Once again Joe & Mario manipulate an election for their interests.Hopefully soon, AB fraud will be added to the indictments.

  9. “The mighty absentee ballot……in a large senior citizen district”. Again: shameful.
    This one would be easy to investigate…… if any official agency would want to. They could go to where the AB’s were collected and interview the people there. I would start by asking the folks if they knew that they voted for a 23 year old. I bet you would find many AB “voters” may be “incapacitated” and may have not had any idea what they were doing. Who collected these votes and who spoke with these voters convincing them of who was “the best candidate”. Who made out the ballots for those who may not even be able to hold a pen? Have any died since? Was it their last wish to elect a 23 year old? There are so many issues with the number of votes collected that the methods employed in every election need to be investigated.

  10. Sounds like things didn’t turn out so well for Hector “Diaz”. His name is not even mentioned anywhere this morning as running. Kate was way ahead of him. Maybe next time he should use his mothers maiden name?

  11. Mary Filo, keep Hector’s mother’s name out of your comments. You couldn’t shine her shoes you ignorant little fool. You have no idea what a wonderful woman she is, and if you live your miserable life a 100 years you couldn’t stand up to her as a woman. You have a big mouth, but no delivery or relevance in any election in this City.

    1. Thank you Lisa, Mary sounds like a very lonely person, I don’t know her , don’t think I’ve ever met her, yet yes I’m sure she couldn’t shine “Vicky” Diaz’s shoes.

  12. So the “Real Deal” gets the “Raw Deal” in Bridgeport!
    How can these corrupt phonies even look themselves in the mirror?
    Keep up the “good fight” all those who try to change the system here !
    Such a shame, and the media acts as if the corrupt AB Machine is the norm.
    Shame on them too!

  13. Hector Diaz attacked Kate Rivera for simply utilizing her legal last name as a candidate.
    He also attacked Kate for legally qualifying for the $21,000 CEP Grant

    Therefore any comments referencing there is “no crying in baseball” should be directed at Hector Diaz.

    1. Hector Diaz had the biggest name recognition of all of the candidates but Hector came in fourth place out of 5 candidates with 67 votes, Kate had 5 times more votes than Hector.

  14. A win is win but let’s look at a few things for the win. Antonio Felipe 23, son of former Mayor Finch aide Ruben Felipe. Antonio Felipe had the support of two Democratic factions — Ganim’s and Finch’s.

    Two veteran Democratic operatives with reputations for their expertise in racking up the mail-in votes — Lydia Martinez and Wanda Geter-Pataky — attended the yacht club party. Each received a round of applause.
    Antonio Felipe was supported by State Rep. Chris Rosario, State Senator Dennis Bradley and City Councilman Marcus Brown. Lieutenant Governor Susan Bysiewicz and Attorney General William Tong both campaigned for Felipe in the days leading to the special election. Antonio Felipe also had the support of DTC Chairman Mario Testa and the DTC, the 131st district leader Mitch Roble and the Democrat machine was totally behind Antonio Felipe.

    Let me repeat what has written, Kate Rivera proved herself a worthy opponent to the political establishment becoming the first petitioning candidate in a special election to qualify for a full public grant under the state’s campaign finance program, a laborious effort that required more than 700 petition signatures of district electors in a short time frame to receive the public dough. Both Rivera and Felipe had roughly $25,000 to spend in a compressed cycle.

    Just under 1000 voters came out to vote and Kate Rivera “kicked the ass” of the Democrat machine at the ballot box. Kate Rivera had her biggest supporters and helpers her lioness daughters Kalani and Angel. There were many former Democrat elected members who told me that they couldn’t believe that Kate was running and that they didn’t thing she would get destroy, well as we can see they were wrong. Out of the total vote more than 20% were absentee mail in ballots were for Antonio Felipe. Kate Rivera is the first step in breaking the Ganim/Testa DTC machine.

  15. To Grin
    In baseball they have umpires; fair and impartial. In Bridgeport they have a Registrar with a daughter in the race, they have Lydia Town Clerk who sends out AB’s and always has a candidate in the game and they have City Hall payroll.
    What’s you point?

  16. In North Carolina they call it Absetee Harvesting in Connecticut they call it Bridgeport’s Up To It’s Old Tricks.
    In both places it’s illegal but CT does care.

  17. Some of OIB may wish to read my post on Facebook made within the hour. The gist is that the role of ABs in this City Council race is just the tip of the iceberg . Wait till the race for Mayor. I cannot help being a LWV member and I am going to be visible in that race for zero abuse of AB voting or signups. Check out Facebook.

  18. Of the 4 Democrats running Antonio Felipe, Christina Ayala and Hector Diaz both former State Representatives, all 3 have family members with a long history with the Democratic Party. Kate Rivera has no family connection with the Democratic Party and she was the least recognizable name running

    Kate Rivera becoming the first petitioning candidate in a special election to qualify for a full public grant under the state’s campaign finance program, a laborious effort that required more than 700 petition signatures of district electors in a short time frame to receive the public funding of $21,112.50. Well, Christina Ayala and Hector Diaz had the same opportunity to qualify for a full public grant under the state’s campaign finance program for $21,112.50 but they didn’t. They had to raise $3,800 in donations of $250 and less from a minimum of 113 residents in Bridgeport to qualify for the public money. Rivera, as a petitioning candidate, had the added burden of securing more than 700 validated signatures from voters in Connecticut’s 130th State Assembly District to get public campaign grants, again Christina Ayala and Hector Diaz fail to do that.

    1. in order to fail at something you must first attempt it, as I said I do not believe in the waste full spending of “public” funds which I believe $50,000 plus for the abysmal turnout was, is and will always be. I seen the posters, mail ins but where else did your and my dollars go to turnout maybe 1 or 2 percent of the registered voters in the district?

      1. So Hector you believe in the Citizens United The United States Supreme Court held (5–4) on January 21, 2010, that the free speech clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution prohibits the government from restricting independent expenditures for communications by corporations (including nonprofit corporations), labor unions, and other associations and to do away with public funding of elections.

  19. Ron I believe that they should bar special interest to give to elections, that there should be a limit on how much a person can give and that not $1. of Public funds should ever be used, in essence I helped fund the candidacy of 2 of my opponents. With the way the reporting is set up it is easier to keep money out than to add money to and election. I further believe that PAC money be eliminated from Campaigns also, if a PAC raises money than use it for the CAUSE not candidates sympathetic to it. There was $42,000 “Public” funds spent on election that turned out less than 8% of the total registered voters in that district hows that for a return on the money?

  20. Hector, like you I have a problem with public funding of elections and think it is wrong. Public campaign financing awards to candidates for 2014 totaled more than $33 million. When the children of Bridgeport are receiving a substandard education because no one has money, yet we can find 33 million to finance an election. Why should my taxes pay to finance an election in Oxford or Southbury?

    1. Hector, base on your logic the incumbents already have a gaint headstart and challengers would be out in the cold unless they kill someone or are caught stealing but even that doesn’t stop someone to get elected, Joe Ganim for example, money pour in for him.

      1. Ron simple yes or no do you believe it would have been ok to waste $100,000 dollars of public money on this month long process, most of that money coming in the last week? Do you believe that the money awarded the 2 candidates did anything to change the outcome, did it increase voter participation? Remember these are your tax dollars also.

        1. Hector, I have no problem my money from taxes or from my donation to a candidate. Hector, how does a challenger level the playing field against a incumbent, free speech cost money? Hector, you don’t like the fact that other candidates got money that you didn’t, ok great, you ran knowing what the rules were and you made a decision not to apply for public funding. If you don’t like the rules then what are you doing about it t make change and what is that change?

  21. ok, Ron off subject but, germane to the conversation, Kate for Senator 22nd district, Senator Moore is running for Mayor she and you supported Kate for State Rep, I would be willing to Support Kate for Senator , would you?

    1. Hector, please, get over it, Felipe won and you don’t like public financings of elections. I’m still waiting to see the Puerto Rican candidate for mayor in Bridgeport, Hector is that you? It’s getting late in the game to put up a Puerto Rican candidate for mayor unless the move is to support Joe Ganim which it looks like more and more every day.

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