It’s been a long journey from a hot August summer into the cool of the October autumn, but Tuesday night, following a court-ordered new Democratic primary, City Councilman Marcus Brown cemented his hold on the predominately North End 127th State House District defeating long-term incumbent Jack Hennessy, according to unofficial returns.
Brown blew out Hennessy with the walk-in vote larger than the August numbers, with more 60 percent of the vote covering three precincts, backed by the city’s political establishment that coalesced against anti-vaxxer Hennessy, his Campaign Manager City Councilwoman Maria Pereira, as well as operatives whose race card and gay bashing backfired.
Walk-in and absentee ballot votes show Brown with a commanding 635-499 lead over Hennessy, according to unofficial returns, covering the Winthrop, Blackham and Read precincts.
As city campaigns go, this one hit modern bottom with Hennessy followers trying to persuade North End voters at doors to stick with the 72-year-old white guy against the 30-year-old new guy who happens to be black and gay, showing them pictures of Brown with his white life partner Tom Gaudett who also serves as campaign manager.
Hennessy, senior member of the city’s legislative delegation, and Pereira failed to understand the incumbent’s disconnect from the district’s changing demographics of what was white, now more brown and black.
Pereira viewed Hennessy as nothing more than a vessel to build a future power base against the city’s Democratic establishment that closed ranks against her bellicose rhetoric. On Tuesday Brown leveraged more than 40 political insiders, including a number of City Council members, to persuade, pull, encourage and drive voters to the precincts. And they did it with glee, even those outside the district.
When you break bones, poke the bear, insult, ridicule; be careful what comes back around.
Two operatives who know their way around, former State Rep. Chris Caruso, a two-time mayoral contender and Bill Garrett who introduced Hennessy to city politics 20 years ago loathed the changing direction of the incumbent. They showed up together at Blackham School precinct to vote.
When votes were counted in the August primary, Brown had a five-vote lead, triggering an automatic recount. Brown swept the machine vote but the absentee ballot charge organized by Pereira kept it close.
In a strange turn of events during the recount, nine ballots were misplaced, handing Hennessy a one-vote advantage.
Brown ran into court. Superior Court Judge Barry Stevens ordered a hand recount of all the ballots. Brown received a two-vote lead.
Hennessy filed a counter claim, alleging four absentee ballot applications were signed by relatives of the electors.
Stevens ordered a new primary, declaring it was impossible for him to certify a winner.
He gave both camps less than two weeks to organize a new vote, a strange decision considering all that entails a vote pull.
The Brown camp engineered a formidable turnout in the do-over primary.
Hennessy will occupy a November ballot spot on the Connecticut Working Families Party line, but Brown is the overwhelming favorite, as the Democratic standard bearer, to represent the district.