Donald Eversley, recently an economic development guru in Providence, Rhode Island, is Mayor Bill Finch’s pick to serve as chief development official.
On paper Eversley has an accomplished background: Brown University, graduate Penn Law School, nearly four years as president of the Providence Economic Development Partnership. Eversley was appointed by Providence Mayor David Cicilline, but his contract was not renewed last year, according to the Providence Journal. Cicilline announced it was simply a case of wanting to reorganize government.
Eversley’s appointment comes after an exhaustive search and nearly eight months since Finch assumed office. Eversley also had worked in Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration. Finch is a big Bloomberg fan.
One month away from Aug. 12 and our local version of Tsunami Tuesday, a day of Democratic primaries for congress, state senate and a bunch of state house seats.
Let’s start with the congressional race in which Lee Whitnum, whose claim to fame was a fling with John Kerry between marriages in the early 1990s, challenges Democratic endorsed Jim Himes also of Greenwich. Himes should have no problem lancing Whitnum while building up his name recognition and campaign skills for the big show against Congressman Chris Shays of Bridgeport in November. I love the dichotomy of the general election race: a Greenwich Democrat against a Bridgeport Republican.
The state races add a different dimension with the prospects of Connecticut’s public financing system. Democratic-endorsed state senate candidate Anthony Musto, the Trumbull town treasurer, faces a challenge from Marilyn Moore, former legislative aide to State Sen. Ed Gomes. The senate district occupied by Republican Rob Russo includes Trumbull, and parts of Bridgeport and Monroe. Musto, a nice guy with star looks, has the backing of the Dem establishment. He’ll qualify for the public financing. Moore, out there sweating for donations in the hope of receiving free loot, cannot be competitive without the public financing.
State Rep. Chris Caruso is being challenged by City Councilman Carlos Silva. Caruso’s off to a late start putting together a campaign organization. He just recently secured a treasurer OIB friend John Soltis, but the incumbent is so popular in his legislative district that he can afford to start late. The strategic mistakes and organizational gaffes that marred Caruso’s citywide mayoral primary loss to Bill Finch last September, cannot bite him in his home district.
Incumbent State Rep. Andres Ayala was denied the Democratic endorsement by Lydia Martinez, who had previously occupied the assembly seat that covers the East Side. Andres lost a town committee battle over there in a fight with his uncle Tito Ayala in March. Yes, you can choose your friends, but not your relatives, but that doesn’t mean blood always sticks together, especially in city politics.
City Councilman Eze Santiago will try to parlay support of the party establishment into a victory in the 130th State Assembly seat that covers the South End and portions of West End and East Side. He’s being challenged by party veteran Chico Rivera and newcomer Sylvester Salcedo. Once again, public financing is a key component to making that race competitive.
In the East End, State Rep. Don Clemons, who enjoys support from most party regulars, faces a challenge from Bill Stewart who’s backed by Paul Ganim, the Judge of Probate, and brother of Joe. Paul Ganim has been making the rounds as he tries to position himself for a possible mayoral run in 2011.
Former City Council and Board of Education member Auden Grogins has qualified for the public money in her challenge against the endorsed State Rep. Bob Keeley. This one, in particular, has the attention of Democratic Town Chair Mario Testa who supports Keeley. It’s not so much that Mario adores Keeley, it’s more about factions of the party Mario is fighting with that support Grogins. Mario wants Keeley to win to assert control over the party. For instance, John Stafstrom, the former party chief that Testa dethroned, supports Grogins. This one has a variety of dynamics at play, the longest-serving legislator in the city’s history being challenged by a long-time pol with a strong voter base in Black Rock, a key precinct in the assembly district. Despite losing her citywide Board of Education seat last September, Grogins was the leading voter getter at Black Rock School, the highest turnout precinct in the city. She’s working hard. Keeley should do well in his home precinct at Central High School.
That leaves Longfellow School, a small turnout area, but still important in the mix. That precinct generally serves voters east of Ellsworth Street, including P.T. Barnum apartments. Testa ran Finch’s primary day operation at Longfellow last September and delivered for Finch. Testa’s performance for Finch was one of the reasons their relationship has become shaky. The town chairman feels that Finch ceded too much credit to Stafstrom in Finch’s primary win over Caruso.
But Grogins has her share of support in Longfellow School as well. Black Rock District Leader Danny Roach knows the Longfellow territory well. He, too, delivered for Finch. Remember all the chatter about Caruso blowing out Finch at Black Rock School? Didn’t happen. Finch actually won the precinct by one vote.
Primaries are strange birds, with a premium on voter identification and dragging them to the polls.