Thwarting The Opposition, Mario’s Signature Strategy

Testa 2016
Mario Testa

One of the pleasures–some would call it power–of serving as Democratic town chair is discretion to select the date of the party endorsement for respective candidates. “Selective” is a key word for Mario Testa who has a history of choosing a late endorsement date to handcuff potential pain-in-the ass opponents from securing petition signatures to force a primary. Then there’s the Mario who chooses an early date, as was the case two years ago, to provide Joe Ganim more time to collect signatures to force a primary against incumbent Mayor Bill Finch.

Joe, turns out, didn’t need the extra time, he had a cavalry of supporters who turned around the sigs in less than a week. Others don’t command that kind of force and it’s instructive regarding three school board challengers, JoAnn Kennedy, Helen Losak and Eric Stewart-Alicea, planning a September 12 primary against party-endorsed Hernan Illingworth, Jessica Martinez and Chaila Robinson. It won’t be easy to collect the necessary signatures.

Each year the state issues an election calendar that includes a one-week window for respective parties to conduct conventions to endorse candidates. Two years ago Mario set the date early allowing petitioning candidates three weeks to collect signatures. He was unhappy with incumbent Finch and wanted Ganim on the ballot. This year he set the date one day prior to the last possible date for an endorsement, limiting the time to secure signatures. Why didn’t Mario schedule the endorsement the last possible day? At least two reasons. One, it prevents an opponent from filibustering the meeting until the stroke of midnight, forcing an open primary, something a young city councilman Chris Caruso almost accomplished in 1989 when the endorsement for mayor was scheduled on the last day possible. Two, it provides Mario cover for accusations of wiring convention dates to suit his candidates.

This election cycle, petitioning candidates have until 4 p.m. August 9 to submit signatures to the Registrar’s Office, just over two week’s time following the endorsement. It’s generally not a big deal for City Council candidates hustling doors for district primaries. Citywide candidates, however, must secure 2,245 certified signatures from registered Democrats in Bridgeport. That’s no layup for candidates lacking a mighty crew of volunteers. And you need to submit a few hundred more than 2,245 to guard against invalidated signatures.

Mario, of course, rarely declares publicly his signature strategy. Two years ago he announced he set the date early because he had a trip planned to his Italian homeland. At the time Ganim was competitive with Finch for the party endorsement, but Mario wasn’t taking any chances. Oh by the way, he also wanted Mary-Jane Foster on the ballot because Ganim operatives believed that her presence sucked votes from Finch, particularly in high turnout Black Rock, her base of support. The decision was prescient. The Foster campaign, according to elections officials, had just enough certified signatures with little room to spare. The extra time provided a ballot spot.

Would Finch have prevailed if Foster was not on the ballot? It’s debatable. But one thing is clear, both the Ganim and Finch camps believed she took votes from Finch.

So for citywide candidates and surrogates, the hunt is on for signatures and the clock is ticking.



  1. I have been a friend of Mario’s for over 20 years. I have defended him time after time on this blog. ICANT DO THAT ANYMORE.
    Mario is selling out the people of Bridgeport. He has decided that what ever this little felon wants (Ganim) Mario was going to work to get it the people of Bridgeport be damned.
    Mario has allowed the bag man for Ganim to be the acting Police Chief even though he is not qualified.
    Mario has made sure that all boards and commissions stay the way they are and basically do nothing.
    The new cash cow is the majestic and Poli’s building plus the 2 high rises across the street. That’s here the money is. the money from the schools is drying up so that the new source.
    Whats sad about this Mario could have been the hero of Bridgeport instead of the money merchant. Its been great knowing you but Good Bye.

  2. A genius; a genius he must be.
    Come one Lennie. Every one sees through this little game he plays. And the state Dems play right along with him.
    If you can not come up with 5% you might as well pack it in.
    That being said, get you arse out on the street and collect the 5% and then some.
    Show Mario how little respect you have for him.

  3. Not to digress, but I feel that it is worth mentioning on this blog that during my business/social forays about the city during a wide range of day-time and night-time hours, during weekdays and weekends, I have noticed — especially during the past 6 months — a proliferation of “party houses” at which there seems to be nearly 24-7 partying and or foot/bicycle/motor-vehicle traffic 24-7… Beyond the obvious traffic-safety hazards of blocked streets and reckless driving/parking in these neighborhood situations, the other implications are obvious…

    It seems that drug/alcohol “speak-easies” are the only growing sector of the Bridgeport economy… There are several houses with obvious drug-dealing/speak-easy activity that are operating in areas of heavy, essentially constant police presence. One such area is on Trumbull Avenue; another is in Nob Hill (there are more on the East Side/East End, West End North End/Lake Forest, but the former locations on Trumbull Avenue and on Louisiana Avenue have the more blatant, intense activity…)

    It seems impossible that the BPD patrols haven’t observed this activity and that many, many complaints from the involved neighborhoods haven’t been logged…

    The big, big question is; why has this activity been allowed to become on-going and with impunity?!…

    Something would seem to be very wrong with the modus operandi of the responsible local, federal, and state law enforcement agencies which are surely aware of this activity and yet have allowed it blossom and flourish right under their noses…

    It isn’t just BPD that has dropped the ball… The CT PD, FBI, ATF, DEA, et al., also know what is going on here, but don’t seem to give a
    $%#@… Maybe City Hall, the Governor’s Office, and our federal delegation are just happy to see some sort of increase in business/commercial activity going on in Bridgeport, regardless of what it might be?…

    Which way to the egress?! (Can’t sell your house: advertise it as suitable for rental to Sacred Heart students — it will move quickly at above market price…)

  4. The PD doesnt give a shit. They are to busy keeping track of their OT so they can retire. When I had all the trouble up here they told me it was someone out to get me, come to find out 4 other people had the same problem and were told the same thing. We only got a cop to show up at my house because we threatened to sue. As I was watching a workmen install cameras around my house the cop said could you add a few more. I gave him the finger and went inside.
    Nobody in power in this city gives a shit about us. Not the mayor, not the members of the council not any one. That is why SHU students fuck up our neighborhoods. I have a group next door in a house owned by a Bpt cop I am calling the city about this shit hole and if they don’t do something I will. I am tired of the weak soft spoken politician who will take the money and freebees but wont do their jobs. Things are just starting

        1. Ron what I wrote was a good bye note to a former friend. I am not on a campaign to get rid of Mario as town chair, That is for others to do or not do. I am tired of watching my city get raped by a select few and will do my small part to bring it forward

  5. The state Democratic Party doesn’t give a rat’s ass about the old boy’s club that is the Bridgeport Democratic Town Committee, not until they need Don Mario to deliver the votes on any given election day. 

    Living in Bridgeport will make a person more than a bit cynical about politics. The Democratic Party is controlled by an organization that makes Tamany Hall look like a sewing circle. The Republican Town Committee receives little help from the state or national committees. 
    After a convicted felon and disbarred attorney was re-elected mayor the city of Bridgeport was written off.  

    The BOE is fucked up beyond all recognition. Violent crime is on the rise, a bunch of shootings and stabbings in the past two week.  But Joe Ganim is more concerned with amassing a campaign warchest. 

    This is Bridgeport, go figure.

    1. This goes back to John Mandanici when he the mayor of Bridgeport and the federal corruption investigation that led to a large number of the mayor’s staff and federal programs going to jail. You got a job if you got voters.

  6. Come on bloggers, no one is indispensable or unbeatable, ask my friend John Stafstrom. Mario (uck) is only back because Dotti Guman and I put together a bloodless strategic move to topple stafstrom. It was almost Danny Roach who would have been the TC, but Danny was a stand-up guy and kept his word regarding the deal. I know that very few of you know what I’m talking about because you would have been a part of that TC election, but trust me, I was very much there, and played, regrettably, a part in the little guys return. The next time it won’t be “bloodless.”

    1. Memories, March 12, 2008 OIB entry:

      Lisa “Honey” Parziale, former president of the Bridgeport City Council, has earned her spot on the Democratic Town Committee by one vote. In a review of vote tabulations today by local elections officials, Honey was declared the winner. Unless, of course, party leader John Stafstrom pulls a Chris Caruso and takes it to court. Now a date can be set for selection of the next party chairman. Will it be the continuation of the Stafstrom/Cynthia King combo, Black Rock District Leader Danny Roach or former chair Mario Testa who appears to be lining up a number of commitments to regain his old power post.

    2. Toppling is all good but it will be a failure unless you have a clear plan for the future and the drive and determination to undo previous administrations’ fuckups. There are many of those. The current administration is still cutting deals at the expense of city residents.

  7. Lisa, that was a good plan to move John out but to move Mario out there must be a change in the 90 member DTC in March 2018 and that starts now. I read all the time how much people hate Mario but they do nothing to make the change.

    1. Ron, he was knocked out by Stafstrom until we changed it. It’s not that hard if you strategized with the right people. Now that’s all I’m giving up for now.

  8. Right now there are no serious candidates to take Mario’s job. When Stafstrom had it the patronage was just as prevalent but nastier. Stafstrom was a prick (play on words)
    No matter who has this job they will have jobs to hand out.

    1. Andy, your district leader in the 138 district, Maria Pereira, put a her candidate from 138 district run against Mario and this guy only got 6 votes out of 90 and Maria couldn’t even get all of her DTC members to vote for him. Remember, you don’t have to be a member of the DTC to be the chairman of the DTC but who wants that position?

  9. Thanks again for the laugh Andy. The TC primaries are around the corner and then the horse trading begins. It only took one vote to put me in a position, with the help of my friend Dotti Guman, to take out Stafstrom. The move was complicated, Mario and Danny had to make a pledge to keep their word on the outcome, Danny did and Mario made it back by a sliver of a few votes. Don’t ever rule out a political play, again, no one is unbeatable. It only took one vote! Thanks for the reminder Len!

  10. Mario Testa is the cancer in Bridgeport Good Governance. Testa needs
    to be be cut out and thrown away. This is not a very pretty situation. It’s all-out warfare to throw Testa out on the street. Nothing less and nothing more.That is the only goal. Today. Next year. Sooner or later,Testa needs to be thrown out.

  11. All of these posts describe the basics of political reality: There is patronage in party politics and patronage wheeling and dealing — dirty, more often than not — in every city in the world, and at higher levels in every country in the world.

    And all political positions — party and government level — are occupied by people with agendas who wheel and deal to accomplish their agendas…

    In the final analysis, only the socioeconomic backdrop of the political stage is relevant… The more distressed the backdrop, the rougher the political game…

    It is Bridgeport’s poverty that brings out the “savage” in the Bridgeport political beast. But there is a political beast involved in all politics. Just look up Route 8 to Derby, Shelton, and Ansonia (et al.) and down Route 1 to Fairfield, Westport, Stamford, Greenwich (et al.). Before state and federal money was shoveled back into Stamford in the late 70’s (to the present), Stamford politics was a filthy snake pit and the Stamford PD was notoriously corrupt… (And Stamford still isn’t as antiseptic as some might want us to believe…)

    It’s all about the poverty folks. When a place is prosperous, the prevalence and seriousness of political shenanigans diminishes and the political in-fighting and intrigue becomes more genteel…

    Nothing will change in Bridgeport politics or municipal government functionality — including the effectiveness of the public school system — until living-wage jobs return en masse to the city. And the latter will not happen until our attention is turned outward toward the direction of our socioeconomic oppressor/exploiters down county…

    While we waste tremendous energy and time chasing our own political tail, the decks in Hartford and Washington remain rigged against us… (The folks down-county and in the burbs love it when we cut each other to pieces — it makes it much easier for them to hog the $pie$ and keep Bridgeport noses to the wheel for their benefit…)

    Look at how the good guys — the “squeaky-clean” guys — in our state delegation got cowed into towing the down-county, “no-casino-for Bridgeport” agenda in Hartford this year… You don’t think that Malloy and Blumenthal, and Himes, as well powerful suburban party people/campaign contributors and powerful suburban constituents didn’t make a few phone calls to these guys before the casino vote to make sure that they understood that their re-election and political futures were tied to that vote?! And just how much have these squeaky-clean guys done for the city in retrospect?! About as much as the “dirty” “Testa guys”… -0, in the final analysis…

    And you think that much of anything that originates/happens in this city politically really has much of an effect on our essential well-being?! Please! Get real! Go and picket Himes’ and Blumenthal’s and Murphy’s and Malloy’s offices and nail a Bridgeport prosperity ultimatum to their doors if you want anything real to happen…

    This is the job of our delegation — especially the “squeaky clean” guys that hate Ganim and Testa and love the “common folks” of Bridgeport… If Ganim and Testa are guilty of being self-serving/bought-off and corrupt, so are these squeaky-clean political “mavericks” who talk the talk but don’t walk the walk in Hartford and DC, and from whence their campaign contributions flow, for Bridgeport…

    Real leadership doesn’t whine and complain — it creates and deploys solutions (from the political to the economic). There are no cojones or ideas in operation among the elected and hopeful of the “squeaky clean; just more self-righteous, self-serving BS (I can think of a few exceptions among a couple of political new comers and a couple of old hands not presently in elected office…).

    To those seeking election: Don’t knock on my door with another BS “corruption” message, or I’ll work for your opponent. If you aren’t capable of presenting a plan/solutions for the city’s problems — in the context of addressing the rigging of the deck against Bridgeport down-county — then I have no interest in listening to you, much less voting for you…


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