Ganim supporters stick with him despite loss to Lamont.
Backers still support Bridgeport mayor’s gubernatorial bid despite loss to Lamont
HARTFORD — Once in a while, Bridgeport employees board a police department bus, turn it into a “mobile City Hall” and ride into different neighborhoods to deliver services.
On Saturday, it looked like that tour had stalled at the Democratic Convention.
There sat Bridgeport’s head of public facilities and his deputy, and the city’s lawyer and his deputy. Also, the police chief and assorted mayoral aides. The finance director. The health director.
All supporting their boss, Mayor Joe Ganim, in his unsuccessful bid for the gubernatorial endorsement.
Some were delegates casting votes, others, just cheerleaders.
Health Director Maritza Bond gave a passionate nominating speech for Ganim.
But having lost the delegates’ endorsement to Ned Lamont, Ganim must collect thousands of signatures to appear on the primary ballot. The woman whose office will be in charge of checking the authenticity of petitions collected in Bridgeport is Santa “Sandi” Ayala, the city’s Democratic registrar of voters.
Ayala and family members were delegates Saturday as well.
Longtime Ganim friend Police Chief Armando Perez had no vote to offer, just enthusiastic support.
“(Ganim) has the ability, the knowledge, the experience to make this state great again,” said Perez, who has been present for the mayor’s political highs and his lows.
During Ganim’s first administration in the 1990s, Perez was the mayor’s driver. And, though never charged with a crime, it was Perez who stored expensive wine at his home that Ganim received as part of the mayor’s pay-to-play schemes.
When Ganim successfully asked Bridgeport voters in 2015 to forgive his 2003 corruption conviction and re-elect him, Perez — then a captain — was often at his side.
Some of Ganim’s delegates Saturday have lessfriendly history with him. Tony Barr, for example, is a community activist who, two years ago, was arrested for allegedly threatening to shoot Ganim.
Barr said were Ganim to be elected governor, “Bridgeport will have to be the first priority.”
State Rep. Christopher Rosario was fired from his job running the city’s antiblight office by the returned Ganim. He said, “I’m looking at the bigger picture here. That was three years ago.”
Rosario offered politically practical reasons for backing Ganim’s nomination, like getting Bridgeport votes for his favored lieutenant governor and attorney general candidates.
And, Rosario added, “If the mayor’s seat was open, it’s definitely something I’d be interested in.”
Constance Vickers, head of Bridgeport’s Young Democrats, was also among the Ganim delegates. Vickers has pushed for new blood and fresh thinking in local politics, and Ganim — and veteran Town Committee Chairman Mario Testa — represent the exact opposite.
“The next governor of Connecticut needs to see the value and importance of Bridgeport … We’re treated like a stepchild,” Vickers said.
She said Ganim’s campaign, win or lose, would force that issue.
Testa, who was working the convention floor to cut deals for Ganim votes, recently said the mayor was like the son he never had. The mayor’s actual father, George Ganim, was at the convention, too.
“It’s a dream come true, I hope,” said George Ganim. “I have a great deal of confidence in my son.”