Map Wars–NAACP To Challenge Senate District Changes

Get ready for another election challenge. Officials with city and state branches of the NAACP say they will file a legal challenge to a redistricting plan of neighboring State Senate Districts that they claim unfairly impacts minority voters in incumbent Ed Gomes’ district.

Last year the State Senate districts occupied by Anthony Musto and Ed Gomes were reconfigured, required every 10 years to reflect population shifts, by a redistricting panel that included legislative leaders in Hartford. The changes to the 2012 state legislative districts has angered some African American activists and political leaders who claim “people of color” were shifted into Musto’s district and white voters into Gomes’ district.

State Senator Anthony Musto represents Trumbull and portions of Monroe and Bridgeport. His 22nd State Senate District has picked up the backyard voting base of State Senator Ed Gomes (23rd Senate District) in the Wilbur Cross voting precinct including the Trumbull Gardens housing project. Some African American leaders are concerned this could dilute the voting power of voters. The reshuffling of thousands of Bridgeport residents (the NAACP says it’s far more than the redistricting panel’s numbers) into Musto’s district makes the 22nd District more Democratic. Gomes’ district is already so overwhelming Democratic that redistricting officials could carve out a portion of those voters to help save Musto in a tough general election. The NAACP claims that was the intent. Musto also lost a portion of Republican-leaning Monroe. Musto represents the district Bill Finch occupied for seven years before becoming mayor. It includes all of Trumbull.

Even former State Senator Ernie Newton, who’s seeking to regain his old senate seat, is grousing about the changes–although the shift could help Newton in a primary challenge against Gomes–claiming cribbing the base of Gomes’ district is unfair to the incumbent state senator, especially at a time he was without input and recovering from an illness last year. Newton and NAACP officials say the district was gerrymandered to help Musto at Gomes’ expense. Musto says he had little input into the process.

Looking at the changes geographically, however, makes sense, according to redistricting panel leaders. The Bridgeport portion of the district had been split and now it is contiguous. The unchanged Bridgeport portion of Musto’s district includes North End precincts such as Winthrop and Blackham schools, the Brooklawn area of the West Side at the Central voting precinct and Black Rock. A portion of the Upper East Side above Boston Avenue that included Beardsley Park, a stretch of Noble Avenue, Huntington Turnpike and numerous side streets represented the split portion of the district. Remember all the hullabaloo about that detention center for girls that Governor Jodi Rell wanted to place on Virginia Avenue? That was part of Musto’s district. In the reconfiguration it will be in the district Gomes now occupies. In fact the entire Upper East Side will now be in the 23rd Senate District including Crown Street where Finch resides. By pure land mass the 23rd District covers about 70 percent of the city and takes in a small portion of Stratford.

Now let’s look at the politics to the changes in the geographically North End area, a portion of it the Whiskey Hill neighborhood. Trumbull Avenue, Platt Street, Woodrow Avenue, Saunders Avenue, and Pitt Street, to name a few, have been shifted to the 22nd District. Even Gomes’ home address on Soundview Avenue is a stone’s throw from the State Senate division lines. Ed Gomes has had relationships with these resident voters for years. They would most likely vote for him in a presumed Democratic primary next August. With the redistricting changes Gomes loses those voters.

By pure numbers of reliable voters the shift may represent just a few hundred, but that could be significant in a primary. When Gomes and Newton squared off in a special election to fill the State Senate seat occupied by the late Alvin Penn, Newton won by a few hundred votes. Gomes performed the strongest in the areas now shifted to Musto’s district. Gomes replaced Newton in the State Senate, as a result of a special election, when Newton was forced to resign following federal charges.

Newton is gearing up for his old seat. State Rep. Andres Ayala has formed an exploratory committee with an eye toward challenging Newton and Gomes for the party nomination. Gomes, however, has not officially announced his reelection intentions, but he was at the meeting Thursday night conducted by NAACP activists at the East End Baptist Tabernacle Church to discuss the legal challenge. Gomes appears to be regaining his strength following heart surgery so an August 2012 primary is a battle to watch.

Old Senate District map.

New Senate District map



  1. To those of us who live in the upper East Side, where they put the lines means nothing. These politician who represent us could give a shit less. We are on the fringe of their districts and they treat us like second-class citizens. Musto was a zero, Gomes has done nothing, neither has Newton. Change all the lines you want, who gives a shit.

  2. *** People of different colors shifted in and out of Gomes’ and Musto’s districts after 10 years, how unfair!!! Do they all get to vote at least one time now in their “new districts” being that their individual votes due to skin color in their “old districts” apparently had more clout? Is there a major difference between votes due to skin color when tallying at the polls? Is it a matter of who’s best for the job or skin color when it comes to supporting a political candidate in Bpt? The more things change the more they stay the same, no? *** YOUR VOTE COUNTS! ***


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