Despite the odds, mayor’s challengers wage feisty campaigns

Published on October 14, 2011 by

Does anyone realize that there is still an election about to occur out there?

Believe it or not there is.

In the wake of incumbent Mayor Bill Finch’s overwhelmingly decisive 18 percentage point victory in the Sept. 27 Democratic primary for the city’s chief office, there is still a general election to be had on Nov. 8.

And although Finch should rightly be commended for his resounding victory, there are two other candidates whose names will appear on the general election ballot. Those two candidates are Republican Rick Torres and Independent Jeff Kohut.

For those who are familiar with Bridgeport politics, it is common knowledge that the winner of the Democratic primary is usually anointed mayor of our fair city. And that would seem to be the case as well this year.

Not since Mary Moran, who was voted out of office in 1991, has a Republican sat in the mayor’s seat.

In looking at things analytically, Finch has to be buoyed by his primary win versus challenger Mary-Jane Foster. She had run a spirited campaign and forced Finch into defensive mode after her much-trumpeted victory in court that kept her on the ballot. Foster ran a feisty campaign and was poised to forge an upset against the incumbent.
In actuality, it didn’t happen.

With a low voter turnout, a novice organization and an incumbent who is rather popular, Foster’s quest failed.

Those facts make one wonder as to how Finch could be defeated by either Kohut or Torres after a significant victory versus Foster.

Yet Kohut and Torres are both out there plugging away. And neither should be confused with Don Quixote tilting at windmills.

Torres signs are popping up throughout the city, particularly in Black Rock where the candidate lives and also owns the landmark Harborview Market. And he is driving a large red van that he is using as his candidate bus. This is indeed a very prominent vehicle.

Torres has also been campaigning while riding a Segway, another unique touch.

Kohut’s optimistic outlook for Bridgeport’s future includes targeting manufacturing to return to the Park City in full force. Specifically, he has been collecting signatures for a petition calling for GE to build a solar panel manufacturing facility at its Boston Avenue location.

The Lake Forest resident has also been critical of the Steel Pointe project, arguing that if the long-delayed project ever is completed, it will simply serve as housing for people who work in other Fairfield County communities.

Finch isn’t resting on his laurels either. He is aggressively pointing to a laundry list of accomplishments during his tenure in office. The mayor has also framed his successes for the city as being undertaken during the worst economic climate in recent memory.

His victory in the Democratic primary was also a significant win for the Democratic Town Committee and its chairman, Mario Testa. The party organization was able to get out its supporters despite the low turnout of 21 percent. Unfortunately for Foster, her campaign was unable to do that.

Foster should be credited for taking the high road and has pointed out that she is proud to have energized the voting public. There was some suggestion that she would run a write-in campaign, but the former candidate rejected that notion. As of this writing, it is not known if Foster will endorse any of the three remaining candidates.

So Bridgeporters, circle Nov. 8 on your calendars and go out to the polls and vote. As Park City residents, we should certainly be striving for a better showing than 21 percent.