Lauretti to run for mayor of Bridgeport?
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.