United DTC backs Finch, Ganim run seen as unlikely

Published on August 2, 2011 by

Despite being in the throes of an increasingly contentious mayoral race, the Bridgeport Democratic Town Committee continues to maintain a unified front.

Last week, not only was incumbent Mayor Bill Finch endorsed for re-election, but every sitting City Council member also received the nod from the DTC. And all 20 members of the City Council are Democrats.

The solid front of the town committee could well be a tribute to the leadership skills of Chairman Mario Testa, who enjoys nearly unanimous backing from the city’s Democrats. Or it could simply be the fact that to get anywhere ahead politically in the Park City usually requires marching lock, stock and barrel with the DTC.

One of the more intriguing aspects of this political season has been the will he or won’t he approach of former Mayor Joe Ganim. After being released from a seven-year stint in federal prison, Ganim has kept a relatively low profile but has not vanished totally from the political radar screen.

He has not ruled out running for his old office in City Hall Annex, instead coyly keeping the door to a run somewhat ajar.

On those rare occasions when he has spoken to the media since his return to Connecticut, Ganim has not been shy about tweaking Finch. He has been especially critical of Finch concerning economic development issues.

If Ganim does run for the top slot it will certainly place many Democratic leaders in an awkward position. Many still are loyal to the former mayor from his glory days at the city’s helm, when most insiders expected him to take a shot at running for governor in 2002. How those former Ganim loyalists would react if he challenges Finch remains to be seen. However, the prevailing opinion is that Ganim will not be entering the political fray this year.

“There is no way he will be in the Democratic primary,” said one prominent Democrat who spoke to the Independent on condition of anonymity. “He’s having fun playing with Finch right now, but he’s got a lot on his plate right now that he has to get taken care of first.”

One of those factors is Ganim being fully restored to the bar and resuming his law practice. That fact encouraged another leading Democrat to suggest that if he does run for the mayor’s office in 2011, he will do so as an unaffiliated candidate.

“He doesn’t have the time frame to challenge anybody in the Democratic primary, but I wouldn’t rule him running as an independent in the general election in November,” said the source. “And I think he could win. He’s already been forgiven by most of the people in this city and most people still remember all the good he did when he was in office.”
With Ganim, former mayor John Fabrizi and former state Rep. Chris Caruso not running, Finch was expected by most observers to be a virtual shoe-in, but that has changed in recent weeks.

With his support of the state taking over the Board of Education, Democratic rivals Mary-Jane Foster and John Gomes have hammered Finch at every turn, with Foster especially being on the attack. And with entries into the race of independent candidate Jeff Kohut and Republican Rick Torres, there are now considerable options for those voters not on the Finch bandwagon.

The latest development is the departure of former Democratic hopeful Charlie Coviello from the race. He has thrown his support behind Foster and is instead running for the Bridgeport of Education. Of course the local Board of Education no longer exists and there will not be an election for such a position, but Coviello has never been shy about tilting at windmills.