The events of recent weeks have dramatically impacted the upcoming Democratic primary for mayor in Bridgeport.
To briefly recap, challenger Mary-Jane Foster was denied a spot on the ballot for mayor by Democratic Registrar of Voters Santa Ayala due to a technicality. The error was that Foster’s team submitted four candidates for a possible Board of Education slate when there only should have been three.
Although Ayala supplied the paperwork for Foster’s slate, she bounced Foster from the race even though she knew the paperwork was in error in advance. That left incumbent Mayor Bill Finch unchallenged in the race.
Foster took her argument to court and won, as Judge Barbara Bellis ruled in her favor. The judge took the process a step further by moving the date of the primary back two weeks, from Sept. 13 to Sept. 27, a significant victory for the Foster camp.
The developments were significant on several fronts, but two realities have occurred that could significantly impact politics as usual in the Park City.
First, Bridgeport is once again the laughingstock of the state if not the entire country. Last November’s debacle in the gubernatorial election was bad enough. Then the state took control of the city’s Board of Education through a backdoor process. And finally, Foster was kicked off the ballot.
We believe that Bridgeport residents have reached the breaking point and are ready to revolt against the city’s political machine. People were positively outraged that a candidate who had campaigned for months was systematically removed from the electoral process and they may very well answer with their votes.
There is little doubt that Mayor Finch was severely damaged by these happenings. Many people earlier this summer thought his re-election was a given. Finch has the power of incumbency and he had also amassed a sizeable war chest with which to finance his campaign.
Potential opponents including former mayors Joe Ganim and John Fabrizi, along with former state Rep. Chris Caruso, chose not to run for mayor this time around.
That left Foster, a first-time candidate and former Finch supporter, John Gomes, another political novice and former Finch employee, and Charlie Coviello, who has run for the mayor’s office several times. It looked like smooth sailing for Bill Finch.
But things started to happen. Foster ran an extremely aggressive campaign. Gomes and Coviello dropped out and joined the Foster team. The contest became nasty and suddenly Foster had a real chance of an upset.
Then Foster was kicked off the ballot.
We would like to believe the mayor had nothing to do with this event and he did take the high road saying that he wanted a primary all along. Well now he’s got his wish.
However, it is hard to believe that Ayala acted unilaterally in this affair. It is more likely that somehow party machinations were involved.
In any event, this will undoubtedly cost Finch votes. Some voters who in the past have voted with the party machine may now think otherwise. Voters who have been disenfranchised are now ready to vote against the powers that be. The electorate has been rejuvenated.
Ladies and gentlemen, we have an election on our hands. Now go out and vote.