Dude, Make Up Your Mind! State Senate Delegates Suffer Location Whiplash For Convention

UPDATE: You thought political conventions were finished? Heck, we’re just warming up. Tonight (Monday) at the Madison Avenue restaurant owned by Democratic Town Chair Mario Testa, delegates will endorse candidates in two State Senate districts occupied by Democratic incumbents Anthony Musto and Andres Ayala. The incumbents are expected to be endorsed, but Musto faces an August primary from political activist and healthcare professional Marilyn Moore and Ayala from City Librarian Scott Hughes, a newcomer to elected politics.

Marilyn with her campaign treasurer Bob "Troll" Walsh.
Marilyn Moore, left, with her campaign treasurer Bob Walsh.

The location and time for the Musto-Moore battle has been an exercise in informational whiplash. Delegates were first notified the location was Bridgeport, then Trumbull, then Bridgeport, but wait … it’s back in Trumbull again, but no, wait … it’s back in Bridgeport again. And notices for locations in Bridgeport and Trumbull that went out a few days ago created an understandable political schizophrenia for Moore supporters who feared a fast one was being pulled on them by the Musto people to play an endorsement shell game to deny her ballot access. You go there, and we’ll go here and that’s that! The folks at the Democratic State Central Committee who are supposed to schedule these things had a trying time communicating accurate details to delegates.

OIB contacted State Party Chair Nancy DiNardo about the date and time of the endorsement and she confirmed (with an apology for the confusion) the convention will take place Monday, 6 p.m. at Testo’s Restaurant. A notice, however, issued to delegates listed the time at 7 p.m. but what’s an hour among friends, right? Word of advice to delegates, arrive early to Testo’s, have a cocktail, because who knows when the vote will take place.

Looks like the convention for Ayala-Hughes contest will take place 5:30 p.m. at Testo’s, according to delegates who received notification.

To wage a primary, challengers must secure 15 percent of support at the party convention. Failing that they can petition their way onto the ballot through a process requiring certified signatures from five percent of the registered Democrats in the respective districts.

Moore has already raised the $15,000 required to secure an $83,000 grant through Connecticut’s Citizens Election Program of publicly financed races, a bucket of cash available to her once the State Elections Enforcement Commission signs off on her application, likely in June. Hughes, Musto and Ayala are also raising money through the voluntary program.

Anthony Musto
Anthony Musto

Connecticut’s 22nd Senate District covers Trumbull and portions of Bridgeport and Monroe. It’s the seat Bill Finch occupied for seven years prior to his election as mayor in 2007. The Bridgeport piece runs from the North End, along the West Side and into Black Rock, the traditionally higher-turnout areas of the city. Moore hopes to tap into the voter anger that vanquished all endorsed candidates for City Council and school board last September. Musto has the support of most of the city’s political establishment. He too will be financed by public funds and perhaps independent expenditures. State Party Chair Nancy DiNardo is his political godmother and is prevailing upon her political contacts to keep Musto in place.

Andres Ayala
State Senator Andres Ayala.

Musto and Moore faced each other in a close 2008 primary. Moore is expected to perform well in Bridgeport, Musto in Trumbull. How much can each carve into their respective community strongholds?

Connecticut’s 23rd Senate District covers about two thirds of Bridgeport and a portion of western Stratford. Ayala won the seat two years ago following a hard-fought primary against incumbent Ed Gomes and former State Senator Ernie Newton who is running for the State House seat he once occupied. Hughes must qualify for public financing to wage a competitive race. He also is stitching together a coalition of insurgents who hope to upend the political establishment.

Scott Hughes
Scott Hughes

On Wednesday a convention will take place at Testo’s Restaurant to endorse candidate for state representative, probate judge and registrar of voters.


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