Lamont Wants To Avoid Campaign Mosh Pit With Ganim

Ganim, Lamont
Ned Lamont and Joe Ganim at a March forum. CT Mirror photo.

The Democratic convention is over; Ned Lamont is the endorsed candidate for governor. Now what? Mayor Joe Ganim’s petition drive continues in his quest to wage an August primary. Meanwhile, at some point soon the candidates should engage in a discussion, be it substantial or superficial, about avoiding a primary. It won’t be much of a conversation, to Ganim’s way of thinking, unless Lamont presents specifics on what he’d do for the state’s largest city Lamont will need in November against the Republican, be it Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, former Trumbull First Selectman Tim Herbst or entrepreneur Steve Obsitnik, all of whom have qualified for an August primary.

Lamont reached out to Ganim on the eve of Saturday’s convention vote. Ganim said the time to have the discussion is after the convention.

What can Lamont offer? How he presents it is just as important as what. If it’s one of those “I’ll do great things for Bridgeport” without specificity, Ganim’s gonna say, what else you got? Ganim will likely weigh what Lamont has to say until he knows his ballot status. The deadline to submit petitions is June 12. He’ll need more than 15,000 verified signatures from Democratic voters. Ganim operatives have fanned our across Bridgeport, New Haven, Hartford, Waterbury, New Britain and West Haven for the task. Signatures are submitted to the local registrar offices for review. Certification will come from the Office of the Connecticut Secretary of State. That is about one month away.

So what could Lamont offer Ganim? A commitment to support a competitive process for a Bridgeport casino, fully fund payments in lieu of taxes for a heavily tax-exempt city, money for major infrastructure improvements such as a new Congress Street bridge, additional education dollars for a school district facing deep cuts. How about reopening a governor’s office in Downtown Bridgeport? That was something Dan Malloy eliminated, in a kick in the teeth to the city, after taking office January 2011. Then-Governor Lowell Weicker opened a Bridgeport office in the early 1990s as a show of commitment.

Ganim may feel he’s in a better negotiating position if he’s qualified for the ballot. The Lamont people would like to avoid a primary, but if it comes they’ll place a positive spin on it as being good to raise Lamont’s profile on the issues.

Lamont and Bysiewicz convention
Susan Bysiewicz and Ned Lamont with family accept endorsement from Dems. Photo: H John Voorhees III / Hearst Connecticut Media

Lamont told Hearst Media, “I think we stick to the issues and not let it get mired into personalities–because sometimes if primaries get dragged down into the mosh pit, that is no help for anybody. I will focus like a laser on November, in reminding people how important it is that we elect a Democrat, a Democrat who represents real change.”

Does Ganim have a puncher’s chance?

This process poses risks for both Lamont and Ganim.

The wealthy Lamont is self-funding his race to the tune of millions while Ganim will be outspent heavily, raising money via large-dollar donations because his 2003 felony conviction precludes him from accessing $1.2 million in public dough for qualified primary candidates for governor. So Ganim’s spend-down in the final months of the primary will be dramatically less than Lamont. Strategically Lamont wants to avoid Ganim’s past, or allow surrogates to handle that. If it gets dirty it will be much harder to patch things up with Ganim for a general election. It’s also risky for the likable Lamont to attack Ganim, as well for urban voters who embrace a second-chance message.

The attack plan by Mayor Bill Finch in 2015 against Ganim backfired. Instead of ignoring Ganim and running on his record, the Finch political operation bashed him from day one. Many urban voters asked why is Bill Finch afraid of Joe Ganim? Coupled with Ganim’s retail skills, Finch’s strategy turned him into a trivia footnote: the only mayor in Bridgeport history to lose in a primary.

Ganim nonimation
Does the pragmatist have a puncher’s chance? Frank Gerratana photo.

Wouldn’t Lamont attacking Ganim’s past play well with a suburban-rural audience? Why do that when they’d likely be Lamont voters anyway at the risk of alienating urban voters he’ll need in the general election? Unless something kooky happens, the Republican in the general election will be a formidable foe, given the Connecticut electorate’s distaste for the direction of the state, that requires all hands on deck in urban areas for the Democrat.

Ganim’s the more skilled retail politician. Lamont doesn’t want to hand Ganim a wedge issue he could bring to urban voters. Realistically the only way Lamont reminds Democratic voters of Ganim’s past if his operatives feel Ganim has some campaign traction. Otherwise let it go.

There are risks for Ganim too that could bleed into his mayoral reelection. Most of the established campaign operatives–unions, teachers, progressives, state public employees, town committee members–are supporting Lamont. Combine that with Lamont’s heavy spending against Ganim’s marginalized pocketbook and it’s a potential recipe for ballot embarrassment. In addition, what if Lamont wins the general election? Will he remember Ganim ran a pain-in-the-ass primary against him?

It could buoy a stronger candidate against Ganim next year, including State Senator Marilyn Moore who’s being urged by local activists to challenge Ganim.

So every one asks, what’s the end game for Ganim? Depends on his conversations with Lamont.



  1. Ned is going to be a Three Time Loser. Out of the starting gate he is too progressive. His Trifecta message of state workers, teachers and minimum15.00 wage will fall flat in the general election. As much as I hate to admit it, Sonny Fox is right, left and center on this one!

    Eight is Enough would be my GOP message! Dems need to preserve the House and win back the Senate!

  2. Joe Ganim is dealing from a position of weakness because Mario Testa and his 90 delegates can’t hurt Ned Lamont. Lamont collected 1,637 votes — 87 percent — to Ganim’s 244 votes, 12.97 percent of the 1,881 delegates voting. I mean what are we talking about here, let’s get real Joe Ganim can not over come Lamont with the voters.

    1. Did the assembled delegates boo, hiss, laugh or jeer when Ganim took the podium? He’s one of the contributing factors to our state being referred to as “corrupticut.”

      1. @TBK
        In the delegations to the rear of the Bridgeport contingent most of the delegates seemed amused that JG2 needed a City employee to nominate him and made his own seconding speech (candidates don’t get to make a speech until after winning the party endorsement).
        When he took the podium to speak there was tepid polite applause from the non-Bridgeport delegations.
        During his speech there was some attentive listening, some laughs when he mentioned his troubles and second chance. Many could be heard to say that Bridgeport may have given you a second chance but the felon image is not what the delegates want to represent the Democratic Party come election time.

  3. This idea of “what can Ned promise Joe for Bpt”,a promise of supporting a casino,fund a new congress st bridge,extra funding for our board of ED,etc,etc.This is Joe Ganim we are talking about,he isn’t interested in what LaMont can do for Bpt,Joe is interested in what LaMont can do for HIM.iT’S ALWAYS ABOUT JOE.
    Joe is more interested in advancing his own career,he can give a shit about Bpt(his actions prove that time and time again),Joe is going to want a job in Ned’s administration,plain and simple.

  4. As a voter and someone who pays attention to issues I see this as a lot of poor choices.
    I don’t think there are any good Republican choices.
    The prospect of Lamont appears to me as more Democratic bullshit. Its the “New Hillary” where it’s “all Dems on deck” or you lose your jobs and funding kind of thing. You saw where that got us with Hillary. I know the first thing Lamont will do is make Finch the new director of Economic Development once they kick him out of Discovery- that is, if Lamont wins
    I give the Republicans the best chance because people are fed up with the Dems.

  5. Bob Halstead, I think you hit the nail on the head. I voted Republican in the last two gubernatorial elections yet this time there isn’t a one that I would vote for this time.

    As a life long Democrat there isn’t any in this election cycle that I WANT to vote for. As a Black man there isn’t a Democrat that is WORTHY of my vote with their tax and spend mentality while cutting programs that adversely affect Black people of the State of Connecticut, underfunding Black schools across the State and their inability to bring jobs to the State, which again adversely affects Black people of the State.

    My moral conscience precludes me from sitting this election out, but I’m left feeling that neither party is Black people friendly and I’m left knowing that we as a people will not prosper from devil we will know or the devil we don’t.

  6. With the dubious nominated/primarying Party candidates, and equally as dubious, state- stewardship records of the Parties going back three decades, this political season in Connecticut is begging for an independent candidate with an exciting, credible message of the creation of economic-development progress/jobs creation, in the context of social and cultural progress. So far, none of the candidates in the gubernatorial race have come up with a clear plan, with specifics, to move Connecticut forward, in a timely way, in these regards.

    Right now, even Mississippi is kicking Connecticut’s ass in the economic competitiveness department!… Connecticut has become a Third World state run by its own Old-Money/Hedge Fund/Public Utility Oligarchy… Both major parties have proven to be dead-weight drgas to real socioeconomic progress in this state… Ned Lamont is just Dan Malloy with real a$$et$, and Mark Boughton is just a nice-guy Republican that will practice the constipated Republicanism of the past — “lower taxes and they will come…” (Danbury is doing well — but only because of their available space and NYS- border location…) The other Republican candidates involved in the primary range from politically-inept to wack-job reactionary, with ultra-parochial in the middle of that sandwich…

    It’s time for a smart, progressive-pragmatic independent to save us from the dry-rot policies of the two dysfunctional major parties…

    This is a wide-open gubernatorial-election year for the right independent with the right plan. History is trying to tell us that it is hardly worth the time to listen to the D’s or R’s this time around in Connecticut…

  7. I don’t think that Joe Scarborough is still a Connecticut resident. I think that he sold his New Canaan home and moved to NYC a few months ago… In any event, he’s still a conservative Republican at heart, and identifies too strongly with the Gold Coast to be a good fit for Connecticut’s 2018 needs… We need something along the lines of a Lowell Weicker-Stewart McKinney-Abraham Ribicoff hybrid…


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