If It’s Drama You Like, Pull Up A Seat To Bridgeport’s Mayoral Race

This mayoral cycle has the makings of the best soap opera on the planet. There’s the drama of Joe Ganim exploring a comeback, Bill Finch pursuing a historic third four-year term, and the expected entry of University of Bridgeport executive Mary-Jane Foster, Finch’s 2011 primary opponent, who has experienced her share of drama from her days as a commercial and stage actress.

Not since 2003 has Bridgeport featured a crowded Democratic primary field. Could happen this year with three marquee names: Finch, Ganim and Foster. Lesser known names such as school board member Howard Gardner and perennial mayoral candidate Charlie Coviello are also in the race.

Bill Finch
Finch enjoys the power of incumbency.

In 2003, John Fabrizi squeaked a primary win over Chris Caruso in a field that included school board member Max Medina, State Rep. Bob Keeley, City Councilman John Guman and Coviello.

Fabs, as City Council president, had become mayor in April 2003 upon Ganim’s resignation following his conviction on federal corruption charges. Fabs won the general election in a competitive fight with Republican Enrique Torres.

Historically, a large field generally benefits the incumbent in a splitting of the anti-vote. Come on in, the water’s fine, right? For now, throw that argument out the window. This race has the potential for so many twists and turns, it’s impossible to project a beneficiary.

Finch enjoys the power of incumbency to raise money, make things happen and prime development announcements. He’s the odds-on favorite for the party endorsement in July, setting the stage for a September primary.

Ganim, media
Ganim addresses media after filing exploratory papers.

Ganim has some party support and nostalgia on his side that he must marry to futuristic proposals of his own. Nostalgia is not going to be enough because most electors vote on the future.

Foster’s getting into the race to frame herself as a viable alternative to both Finch and Ganim.

Polling indicates Ganim’s strength appears to be among black and brown voters who saw progress during his years as mayor. Foster has base support in white areas such as Black Rock and Brooklawn. If she’s not in the race, would a majority of her votes go to Finch? Or does Ganim have closet support that does not register in polling?

Some voters are romanticizing Ganim’s reentry into politics, but what will they think after Finch’s campaign operation unloads on his past? Will Ganim have enough dough to immunize himself from attacks?

Can Foster frame herself as viable alternative?

If so, with Finch and Ganim clobbering each other, would that provide an opening for Foster as the viable alternative? Depends on what she says and how she says it. She’ll need a rationale for running and an economic message to break through.

Then there’s the personality side to the race. Foster is not fond of Ganim or Finch. Finch and Ganim are not buds. Campaigns are staffing up as well.

Howard Gardner
Howard Gardner speaking at public hearing in support of government reform bill.

And what about Gardner and Coviello? Can they raise money? Also, will they build organizational strength to secure the nearly 2000 petition signatures required to make the ballot? That’s not an easy process.

So strap in. This could be a wild one on the way to a September primary.

Charlie Coviello is trying one more time.


  1. Catch the spirit, people. Politics in Bridgeport is better than the sports pages–it’s the ultimate diversion and OIB is no exception. Strap on your helmet, lace up your cleats and prepare for kickoff. Many bloggers enjoy the soap opera but they’re really here to determine a winner!
    Bonus: www .colorblends.com <–contrast in Bridgeport.

  2. Hi Len, although it rarely happens, this time I disagree with your political crystal ball. The word romanticizing is not the correct word when describing Joe’s serious supporters. By that I mean committed. Some of us know the difference between a mediocre Mayor and a good Mayor. Joe Ganim was and will be a good Mayor. Okay, bring on the corruption thing, bloggers. I’m going beyond that to the substance of what it takes to do the job. I engage with the everyday people of Bridgeport. Some don’t have the savvy the pols have, but they know what they want and don’t want. I never reveal my preference when asking who they are inclined to vote for. Don’t mean to disappoint the anti-Ganim folks, but I’m getting Joe Ganim for Mayor. Just saying!!!

    1. I am amazed at people’s perceptions of Joe Ganim. He quite literally sold this city down the river for his personal gain and yet he is held in esteem by many people. This man was lining his pockets and drinking fine wines while he was your mayor. The city would have been better off with no one at the helm than someone who once again reaffirmed the suspicions that Bridgeport was forever in the grasp of corrupt politicians.

      No honest business people want to play in this kind of arena. Businesses have been buying property and opening businesses in Bridgeport because they’ve seen real changes over the past decade. They’ve seen Bridgeport politicians serve time for their criminal actions. This rarely happened in the past. The black eye of corruption in our governance has held this city back for generations. Bridgeport desperately needs to stay on a straight and narrow path. Going backwards isn’t the course for our future. Please take the time to look around and see the economic activity that is actually taking place. Real jobs are being created in Bridgeport. There is genuine excitement in the business community. Will our schools be up to the task of providing the necessary skills these employers need from the ranks of Bridgeport citizens? We need to prepare for the future, not to clamor for the falsehoods and distant memories of the past.

      1. Mr. Wade, with all due respect the BPS are not your schools and “we” reside in Bridgeport. The children who attend BPS are not your children or grandchildren, they’re ours.

        I guess we should do everything to continue to attract “honest businesses” like Fletcher Thompson?

  3. Did anyone watch the live press conference Finch held with the family of the slain Portuguese store owner from the Hollow today?

    It was just disgraceful. He used the press conference to advance his re-election campaign.

    On three separate occasions he noted crime was at its lowest in the last 40 years. He mentioned how Columbus School had been renovated, they were in the process of renovating the park across from the store where this man was killed, etc.

    Can someone please tell me what any of this has to do with the murder of a kind and well-respected Portuguese business owner in broad daylight? Really, he just has no shame.

    I went to the memorial in front of the shop this afternoon to lay some flowers, and when I pulled up Joe Ganim was there speaking with a couple of his immediate family members. While I was there, 8-10 Hispanic, black, white, etc. community members told him they needed him to come back and fix Bridgeport. He received handshakes, hugs, and five of those he spoke with told him they would vote for him.

    I honestly don’t remember much of Joe Ganim as Mayor, however it is pretty apparent he has a very real connection with the people of Bridgeport.

      1. Maria, a traditional press conference with the Police vowing to apprehend these murders would have been appropriate. I agree, this ‘media event’ was disgraceful. I joke about the ‘ministry of public enlightenment’ but in this case it reflects poor judgement by Finch to go along with using campaign talking points in front of the grieving family.

        1. I agree. Perplexing use of airtime. Not every captive audience is the appropriate audience.

          This campaign cycle is a polarized one. Every move will be hyper analyzed. Finch’s think tank needs repurposing.

        2. Tom White, good point and I agree with you but Bill Finch is scared of Joe Ganim because he sees the handwriting on the wall so he has to use every chance he can to campaign even at the wrong place and the wrong time. He’s a loser and he knows it.

    1. Maria–in all seriousness, if not to promote himself politically, what other reason would Joe Ganim have to go to the scene of the crime? I just watched the video you posted of Finch speaking at the news conference, and I see nothing offensive.

      1. I agree with both Maria and Godiva. Both were shameless plugs or ploys. Finch would raise his crime is down thing in the midst of a holocaust and Ganim is showing up concerned, for the first time since he got out of jail, at every opportunity for self-promotion. You’d think these two could leave it alone when a tragedy like this occurs.

      2. When I visited the memorial, there were no reporters or cameras. Joe Ganim was there by himself, not with an entourage.

        I didn’t personally know the family, however I felt compelled to visit the memorial. Does that mean I went to score political points?

        1. No, Maria–the difference is you aren’t running for mayor, you’re just a sympathetic onlooker. You weren’t there schmoozing the people who were there hoping to garner votes for yourself. He’s an opportunist, plain and simple.

          1. Godiva 2011, there were only 8-10 people who stopped by the memorial while I was there, not 80. Joe Ganim could have walked into a diner or laundromat to find 8-10 people to schmooze. He honestly wasn’t being flashy, however those who visited were very pleased to see him.

  4. Oh, this is so cool. Lennie is inviting everyone along for the ride. He’s coach, tour guide, controller of the blogospheric agenda, keeper of the keys to the vault and owner of a hidden opinion which he’ll reveal as time advances.
    If Lennie were any better, we’d all be candidates for mayor! As it is, we all have a chance to “bust a post” and make a dent in the local political universe. You don’t wanna miss that train. Here’s the best part: you don’t need a ticket, you just get on board.

  5. Milkman, life is made up of human people with differences of opinion. Now be nice and accept that as life as we know it! We have enough negativity, use this space to show the kinder side of whomever you are!!!

  6. Milkman, I don’t see the economic development you see. Please point it out to me in specifics. Something of substance. Unfortunately, the leadership you see that is in power is all about that. Power. Nothing else. I need a mayoral candidate who speaks to the issues. People are listening to Ganim.


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