City Council members Aidee Nieves and Maria Valle have proven themselves mighty vote producers on the East Side, a critical component in city faith leader Herron Gaston’s quest to defeat incumbent State Senator Dennis Bradley in the August 9 Democratic primary.
Gaston’s latest mail piece, in English and Spanish, focuses on his backing from Nieves, Valle and Board of Education member Erika Castillo.
The past few election cycles the Nieves-Valle tandem has blown out the campaign operation of City Clerk Lydia Martinez, the political godmother of Bradley who put his prestige on the line to help Martinez in those losses for City Council seats and town committee representation.
Politicians keep score. Nieves and Valle are well aware of Bradley’s failed effort to take them out. On paper, the Gaston-Bradley race is competitive with both camps enjoying operatives who can churn out votes in what is expected to be a low turnout.
Based on political support, Bradley appears strongest in the East End and South End precincts, Gaston sturdy on the East Side and some other portions of the district, as the party-endorsed candidate, that covers about two thirds of Bridgeport and portion of western Stratford.
Bradley, fluent in Spanish, is of Dominican and Mexican heritage so he can clearly connect with the Hispanic community. His supporters, in addition to Martinez, include City Council members Jorge Cruz and Alfredo Castillo, all of whom are seasoned campaigners.
How’s Bradley’s federal predicament, awaiting trial for alleged campaign finance fraud, playing in neighborhoods? In the larger picture that depends how Gaston is being framed as the alternative. The campaign is highlighting his bona fides as a city minister, community leader and relationship building without a direct hit on Bradley’s situation. It’s a subtle approach: Bradley’s in limbo, he’s stripped of committee assignments, the district needs undistracted representation.
The district is heavily black and brown with a strong suspicion of law enforcement so the pile-on factor must be weighed. They are also communities suspicious of politicians, so it cuts both ways. There’s a balance.
Absentee ballots could decide this contest. The race is on to bank as many as possible to transcend the walk-in vote.
Will this campaign turn dirty in the final week or so? The mud could sling. It’s really a question of landing less mud on you than the opponent. Keep a power washer handy.