Lau­retti to run for mayor of Bridge­port?

New Haven Register (New Haven, CT) - - NEWS - By Michael P. Mayko and Brian Lock­hart

SHEL­TON — He took the an­nual Colum­bus Day pa­rade away from Bridge­port Mayor Joe Ganim.

So does Shel­ton Mayor Mark Lau­retti, a Repub­li­can, want Demo­crat Ganim’s job, as well?

It sounds un­likely, but Lau­retti, a sea­soned politi­cian, was happy to keep peo­ple spec­u­lat­ing Thurs­day.

“I have a good base in Bridge­port,” Lau­retti said, re­spond­ing to a sud­den spurt of ru­mors over 24 hours that he was eye­ing that City Hall over the bor­der. “At this stage of the game, any­thing is pos­si­ble.”

Lau­retti, who has chalked up 14 two-year terms as chief ex­ec­u­tive of Shel­ton, added, “I’ve al­ways said Bridge­port is a city of a lot of po­ten­tial un­der the right lead­er­ship.”

The Shel­ton mayor said if he did run for that job in Bridge­port — af­ter mov­ing to the city, ob­vi­ously — “I don’t think it’d be as a Repub­li­can. Prob­a­bly un­af­fil­i­ated.”

Like Lau­retti’s term in Shel­ton, Ganim’s term in Bridge­port is up for voter scru­tiny in Novem­ber 2019.

Lau­retti is not ex­actly a stranger to Con­necti­cut’s largest city. He taught and coached bas­ket­ball at Cen­tral High School, was a Bar­num Fes­ti­val ring­mas­ter and a co-grand mar­shal of the 2016 June­teenth Pa­rade mark­ing the abo­li­tion of slav­ery.

“Me, a white Ital­ian from Shel­ton,” Lau­retti said.

In 2017, Lau­retti was the grand mar­shal of Bridge­port’s 109th Colum­bus Day pa­rade.

He re­cently agreed to host this week’s 110th an­nual pa­rade in Shel­ton be­cause of a dis­pute be­tween or­ga­niz­ers and the Ganim ad­min­is­tra­tion over the cost of po­lice over­time.

Lau­retti said when he has walked Bridge­port pa­rade routes, peo­ple come off the side­walks to shake his hand and wish him well.

“That’s flat­ter­ing,” he said. “It’s a recog­ni­tion of what we’ve been able to ac­com­plish in Shel­ton.”

Given the Bridge­port GOP’s ane­mic reg­is­tra­tion num­bers com­pared with the Demo­cratic party’s, Lau­retti might have a bet­ter shot of un­seat­ing Ganim as an un­af­fil­i­ated con­tender.

But Bridge­port Repub­li­can Chair­man Mike Gar­rett said af­ter speak­ing briefly with Lau­retti on Thurs­day that the lo­cal GOP would em­brace some­one with the Shel­ton mayor’s track record.

Asked whether there were any Bridge­port Repub­li­cans con­sid­er­ing tak­ing on Ganim, Gar­rett said, “I don’t have names I can give you presently.”

Lau­retti would likely be crit­i­cized as a car­pet­bag­ger. But Ganim, Bridge­port’s mayor from 1991 un­til 2003, was liv­ing in Eas­ton when he de­cided to mount a suc­cess­ful 2015 come­back for his old job.

He rented a Bridge­port apart­ment and won.

Ganim did not re­spond to a re­quest for com­ment for this story.


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