Mayor Joe Ganim has found an extra gear reminiscent of a skill set that elevated him a statewide political player in the 1990s.
His state of the city speech before the business community this week at a concert and entertainment venue arguably Ganim’s mightiest development project since his return to the mayoralty in 2015 showed he’s dialed in: confident, spreading the accomplishment wealth with city council members, state legislative delegation, public safety hires with renewed vigor.
When Ganim feels it, the people around him do as well. It’s up to candidates to inspire, not the supporters.
Who cares he was aided by a teleprompter. A lot of pols have that but it’s like they’re reading, not connecting.
Amphitheater, Honey Locust Square in the East End, Cherry Street Lofts West End, Boys & Girls Club North End, Downtown housing, 300 new market-rate units in Black Rock, new Bassick High School under construction, modern libraries, street paving, bulk trash pickup, stable taxes, balanced budgets, peace in the police department.
A hefty list of things to sell in an election year.
Not all is a tasty, peaches flambe. Ganim’s had hiccups: allowing lawyers to flaunt FOI regulations, disconnected police department leadership in his first term that bled into second until the emergence of new Chief Roderick Porter, police staffing issues, dubious hires, gaffes here and there.
Not the kind of thing, however, that sets the electorate’s hair on fire compared to the progress.
His opponents (what else is new?), surrogate benefactors of other candidates and usual-suspect haters who marinate in misery, pooped on his state of the city presentation drawing back in mock horror about the audacity of his recital accomplishments irrespective of the venue: the city’s musical and community gem that’s drawing hundreds of thousands and feeding Downtown restaurants.
That happened without Ganim, right?
None of them behold a rejoinder worthy of voter penetration. “Yeah, buts” must come with a resonating parry that contrasts what he’s doing with what they will do.
Announced opponents, John Gomes, new guy Lamond Daniels or State Senator Marilyn Moore and by extension her conflicted public relations arm Bridgeport Generation Now cranks, don’t know how to burrow into the brains of voters who will decide a Democratic primary and general election.
Gomes, by far, has waged the strongest argument for change with quality use of social media, raising a surprising amount of loot and bringing new people to the table.
Moore is “the same old Marilyn” according to one high-profile pol who supported her in 2019 but is not this time around. She has no original ideas and is simply a tool for Gen Now acolytes to control.
Daniels is trotting out the usual, canned, left wing hyperbole with no meat on the bones. He’s the idealistic fresh face with finger in the air hoping the wind blows his way. Many Moore supporters from four years ago, to his outreach credit, have gravitated his way unhappy with her lack of vision and flaccid retail skills.
Moore lost a change-agent opportunity to take out Ganim in 2019 when Ganim came off a head-scratching run for governor after a majority of voters delivered him on a second-chance message.
Rationale for running for public office is a key jump point for setting up everything else you do.
For Moore it’s a parenthetical (I’m a black woman, it’s time). Fine, but that’s a hard sell unless the incumbent is severely damaged. Most electors still vote on the future and they want to know so…What will you do in charge?
Moore has no answers. None. She has a state senate base that cannot be discounted but her persona relies on ideas fed her not what’s in her head.
Gomes has the most competitive contrast: he and his handlers have a sense for what gains some attention, but he still must overcome the political insider feeling, at least, that he’s running a revenge-factor race because Ganim wasn’t obsequious to his role as a leading government official.
Look around and even Ganim detractors such as Jeff Kohut who supported his 2015 return then soured on his response have written in the OIB comments section, historically driven by anti-incumbency interests, that something dramatic must happen for Ganim not to win another term.
It’s a crazy business and something unexpected could happen. If not, what will opponents do to change the course of this race?