Finch And Foster Campaign Standoff, It’s Adam’s Family Versus Jason And The Argonauts

The Addams Family
Such diversity in City Hall. Do any of them speak French?

Political campaigns are creepy and kooky, mysterious and spooky–candidates Bill Finch and Mary-Jane Foster may be the faces of their respective campaigns–but it’s the strategists who drive the operations and make them ooky (what the hell is ooky?). Say hello to Adam Wood, Finch’s chief of staff and political yogi and Jason Bartlett, Foster’s campaign manager. They were co-chairs of Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential race in Connecticut when she lost to Barack. Gee boys, who do you blame for that one? Zing!

Jason fights off those skeletons.

In the bizarre world of Bridgeport politics where ballot shortages, candidate denials and court battles can take center stage, it’s operatives such as Wood and Bartlett who set the tone, craft messages, build the campaign infrastructure, oversee the direct-mail plan and electronic outreach and work the free media, either directly or through surrogates. While candidates try to inspire and touch the hands of voters, they’re fed ammo by the strategists.

Wood and Bartlett are both competitors who don’t like each other. It’s the nature of the beast. The battle among strategists tend to be on the same level as sports. (Think Yankees and Red Sox.) The personalities may be different but in practice they’re actually more alike than different: both strong advocates on behalf of their candidates, confident they’re doing what’s right for the campaign, stubbornly digging in, rarely giving up the point they’re trying to hammer home while anticipating charges and countercharges. I’ve had the opportunity to spar verbally with both. Sometimes you want to hug them, sometimes you want to slug them.

Wood is a laconic, distant, unpopular figure among many City Hall employees who say he’s a diabolical hatchet man for the mayor. He’s a Finch loyalist with a twisted sense of humor, who does not seem to mind his city employee reputation as long as he reaches his goal of reelecting Finch who trusts him implicitly. Wood, now in his mid thirties, got a taste for city campaigns as a boy wonder in his mid twenties. He doesn’t like limelight and has decided to stay on the city payroll as chief of staff rather than take a leave to officially steer Finch’s reelection effort as he did last year to become a strategist for Ned Lamont’s failed gubernatorial campaign. Kate Breslin appears to be a bright hired gun as Finch’s “campaign manager,” but make no mistake, Wood’s in charge of Finch’s reelection and has leveraged the power of incumbency to elevate Finch in the weeks leading up to the September 27 primary, heralding a number of streetscape capital improvement projects in the city and turning hizzoner into an ubiquitous figure.

Adam Wood
Adam wants to put the wood to the Foster camp.

By comparison, Bartlett is a flamboyant newcomer to Bridgeport campaigns but has adapted reasonably well to his baptism by fire. Bartlett has tasted elected office, having served two terms as a Democrat in Connecticut’s House of Representatives. Bartlett made headlines several years ago as one of the first openly gay black legislators in the country who represented an overwhelmingly white suburban constituency. He was reelected for a term before his defeat last year. It took Foster several months and a bunch of interviews to hire a manager she comfortably felt could help elevate her candidacy. Bartlett has freed her up to be a candidate while he operates the nuts and bolts involved in building a campaign structure against the traditional Democratic party apparatus supporting Finch.

Jason Bartlett
Jason wants Finch's argonuts.

Bartlett was the center of attention at the hearing before Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis to determine whether Foster would appear on the ballot. The Foster campaign claimed Democratic Registrar of Voters Santa Ayala illegally sabotaged Foster’s candidacy by ruling she had one too many candidates for Board of Education. The city claimed Ayala was correct. The judge sided with Foster.

Less than two weeks remain to primary day, September 27. Will Jason secure his golden fleece? Will Adam return his family to City Hall?



  1. If Wood is still a City Worker, why was he at a debate that went from 8am -10am at HCC the other day? Plus was he texting answers to the Mayor on a city cell phone and the Mayor was getting his answers spoonfed to him by city cell phone by other City employees too? So the taxpayers are really funding Bill’s campaign staff. Also those big green sign I believe violate the law regarding “franking privileges.” However, it seems Finch is so accustomed to breaking the law, what’s one more violation?

    1. It goes without saying Finch will respond to the accusations of lawless behavior by offering some sort of baffling answer that “We did everything aboveboard.” Yeah, right.

      Will someone notify the SEEC about these developments?

  2. The Pleasure Beach Pier will be the focus of the Sept 27 program. Some say give the mayor credit for getting funds and doing something in the right direction, others say you can’t actually go to Pleasure Beach anyway.

    There should be a public forum for discussion of these issues. Like what’s next when the boat building company moves out. What about getting the NRZ or city council to reach out locally to raise awareness in the various districts? And maybe let’s have a regular monthly electronic town hall meeting to reach more people.

    After all, what is the attendance for the many meetings the mayor has?

    For example, the mayor meets next Tuesday for the “Bridgeport Regional Sustainability Summit” with various community groups and some big people, and this is important stuff. Probably will get short short CT Post mention. Why not have meetings on live TV? Or create short media clips and go viral with highlights?

    And we have a lot of studies and out-of-town consultants. And reports sitting on shelves.

    Like take this one … the Parks Master Plan Survey review was a good idea, but broadcast of the meeting on TV had terrible audio so it was a waste to film and broadcast it. Hope no one got paid for that! For just $150 for a sound man, they could have made this major event available to the residents of the PARK city for the PARK survey.

    By the way, you can’t actually submit the survey anyway because it stops at question number 7 after several attempts and there is no contact support email. Very pretty map though and nice drag feature, though I won’t be counted.

    Here is what the city site says: “The City of Bridgeport and Mayor Bill Finch are undertaking a Parks Master Plan Process that includes a community survey to gather feedback about how Bridgeport residents and visitors use the park system, recreation programs, and neighborhood open spaces. The survey is available as an interactive survey (click here or on the image below) and as a printable pdf (click here). The web survey may be submitted directly online, and the print version can be mailed, or returned to City Hall.” I would have been the 192nd person to submit.

    1. If Bill Finch ever follows through on one of his promises and actually produces results I think I’d shake his hand and give him a Daniel Webster cigar …

  3. I already voted for change today as I cast by absentee ballot today for Foster and also voted for her entire ticket. Let’s see what the outcome will be Sept 27. I voted already and it feels good to vote for change today.

  4. File under: “Making It Up, Wish I were” … I was driving back from an appointment today and passed by Mt. Grove Cemetery. At the light, I noticed a USPS truck driving through the grounds, and thought: “AHA! Probably delivering absentee ballots to the dead … HAHAHA … ha … ha … er … um … oh …”

    Would Santa Ayala be Thing in this analogy … a big hand snatching away our votes and scurrying off into her box?

    1. Santa Ayala’s unlawful grip on the electoral process in Bridgeport is rapidly coming to an end:

      Judge Bellis is beyond Mario Testa’s influence. She ruled on the side of democracy and scolded Santa Ayala for her irresponsible and unethical behavior and will most likely do it again. Note that Arthur Laske III, the deputy city attorney representing Ayala, had no comment.

  5. And in a new development … the battle over minority contracting is heating up. Josh Grant’s letter to the editor today was surprising as he’s made it clear he is not a Finch fan … but seeing this just posted to, it’s clear the target of his letter isn’t going to sit quietly by without a response:

    It’s true Fabrizi got the minority contracting disparity study done and was in the process of implementing the ordinance when he imploded … and everyone knows the majority of the money Finch claims went to minority contractors under his administration is thanks to the ONE school he is responsible for building–the Discovery school–(not the five he’s claiming that were actually started by Fabrizi).

    Good job Mr. Cooper!


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