Forget House of Cards. The mayoral race in Bridgeport has the makings of the best soap opera on the planet. There’s the drama of Joe Ganim exploring a comeback following his conviction on corruption charges in 2003, Bill Finch pursuing a historic third four-year term, and the expected entry of University of Bridgeport executive Mary-Jane Foster, Finch’s 2011 primary opponent, who has experienced her share of drama from her days as a commercial and stage actress.
Lesser known names are running as well adding to the crowded field of contestants in expectation of a Democratic primary in September.
So many candidates in the field even has political animal Governor Dan Malloy titillated. The governor visited Bridgeport the other day to address business and government officials on his transportation agenda, but with a nod to political priorities got right to the point in the Holiday Inn Downtown:
“There’s a little stiffness in the room so I just want to get this out of the way. Everyone who is not running for mayor of Bridgeport raise your hand.”
Finch was at the luncheon, as well as Foster. Ganim spent the afternoon on a neighborhood walk of the Hollow following the shooting death of a popular grocer a week prior.
Historically, a large field generally benefits the incumbent in a splitting of the anti-vote. Come on in, the water’s fine, right? For now, throw that argument out the window. This race has the potential for so many twists and turns, it’s impossible to project a beneficiary.
Finch enjoys the power of incumbency to raise money, make things happen and prime development announcements. He’s the odds-on favorite for the party endorsement in July, setting the stage for a September primary.
Ganim has some party support and nostalgia on his side from his days as mayor that he must marry to futuristic proposals of his own. Nostalgia is not going to be enough because most electors vote on the future.
Foster’s getting into the race to frame herself as a viable alternative to both Finch and Ganim.
Polling indicates Ganim’s strength appears to be among black and brown voters who saw progress during his years as mayor. Foster has base support in white areas such as Black Rock and Brooklawn. If she’s not in the race, would a majority of her votes go to Finch? Or does Ganim have closet support that does not register in polling?
Some voters are romanticizing Ganim’s reentry into politics, but what will they think after Finch’s campaign operation unloads on his past? Will Ganim have enough dough to immunize himself from attacks?
If so, with Finch and Ganim clobbering each other, would that provide an opening for Foster as the viable alternative? Depends on what she says and how she says it. She’ll need a rationale for running and an economic message to break through.
Then there’s the personality side to the race. Foster is not fond of Ganim or Finch. Finch and Ganim were not buds when Ganim was mayor and Finch in the Connecticut State Senate.
We’ll keep you posted as the political bombs are poised.
Top Image via WFSB/dennishouse.tv