Convention Delegates Will Be Key In Gaston-Newton Senate Race

The 90-member Democratic Town Committee on Monday signed off on delegates who will decide endorsements at various state and federal nominating conventions in May and influence potential challengers in advance of the August 13 primary date.

Freshman State Senator Herron Gaston faces a challenge from City Councilman Ernie Newton who’s seeking to reclaim his old seat he occupied 20 years ago. Gaston is the heavy favorite for the endorsement so Newton will require support of 15 percent of the delegates, all party insiders, to wage a primary. The list below represents 52 Bridgeport delegates deciding the outcome of the convention next month in Connecticut’s 23rd Senate District. Stratford has several delegates as well.

Two years ago Gaston was endorsed over then incumbent Dennis Bradley who secured support from nine delegates, the number required to qualify for a primary. Gaston defeated Bradley in a tight primary. The district encompasses about two thirds of Bridgeport and western Stratford. A majority of party regulars gravitated to Gaston following federal charges brought against Bradley for alleged violations of campaign finance laws. Bradley is awaiting trial that has been delayed over an evidentiary dispute.

Newton is a delegate so he will have his own vote as well as East End District Leader Ralph Ford and a few others on the list. Democratic Town Chair Mario Testa crafted the list with input from district leaders. Based on the list it doesn’t appear Testa overtly wired the list to block Newton from the 15 percent. The chairman also has appearances to maintain with district leaders such as Ford who have supported him. So some horse trading is often involved in fashioning the delegate list.

In the event Newton comes up short of the 15 percent he can petition his way onto the ballot by securing signatures from five percent of district Democrats but that is labor intensive and saps precious resources.

Gaston is participating in the state’s Citizens Election Program of publicly financed races that will avail roughly $100,000 if he qualifies for the primary grant as he did two years ago securing low-dollar donations. Newton is raising money outside the program the old-fashion way with a maximum $1,000 personal donation. Bradley managed a competitive race that way spending about half of what Gaston did.

Newton’s name recognition is also strong in the district with an East End base of support.

List of Bridgeport delegates:


One comment

  1. Posted this in two locations today for efficient coverage. Apologize in advance to those who read and disagree. For those who may agree with the observations and comment, please join in, as evidence that Bridgeport readers are UNIQUELY positioned to offer comments about “autocratic practices” for decades!!

    For most of my years of residence in Bridgeport I have been registered as a Democrat, though that did not limit by ballot on any given Election Day to Democrats, alone. I try to maintain an informed status on the needs, desires, and situation of my neighbors, whether local Bridgeport, State of Connecticut or fellow Americans. I tend to pay attention to the policy positions, if any, and/or the past service provided by candidates to the community and what will likely be advocated by them if and when Town Committee members gather to select them for a place on the ballot.
    Monday evening in Council Chambers, while waiting for the Miscellaneous Matters hearing around 6PM and the 6:30 PM Public Speaking session, I was able to be present for the Democratic Town Committe meeting. They came to order with members identified by a roll call and proceeded to “business”. No statement as to their MISSION or VISION was requested or presented. But perhaps they do not do that as many community serving organizations do. And a decision on whether to vote by acclamation or by roll call vote seemed constipated with no one speaking up until Ernie Newton seized the opportunity to frame a motion. Loud seconds followed.
    And despite the threats by TC leader as to roll-call votes keeping the group together “all night” the votes were called, answered by acclamation, and recorded. People who I thought really enjoyed their “special fellowship” mostly evaporated as the Chamber filled to overcapacity with parties supporting different ways of securing peace in the MiddleEast, which is not a matter that of City Charter process. But silense by representatives and leaders, also, is not strange in the City of Bridgeport. More genuine conversations or discussions will be positive if the interest in having the community practice democracy, or merely allow a limp American flag be a substitute for active, honest, and trustworthy individual participation, in my opinion. What do you think? Time will tell.


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