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Political Expert Cites Goodwill, Patronage In Ganim Win In Bridgeport

Joe Ganim
Joe Ganim Photo Credit: Via Twitter Joe Ganim ‏@JoeGanim

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — After ex-convict Joseph P. Ganim’s comeback victory for mayor of Bridgeport, one political watchdog concluded that city residents are a forgiving bunch — who want something.

“I think this election tells a story about Bridgeport,” said Gary Rose, professor of politics at Fairfield’s Sacred Heart University. “There’s still a lot of goodwill and support for Joe Ganim. I also think a lot of people supported him because they’re thinking there’s something in it for them down the road.”

Like many city residents, Rose wasn’t surprised by Tuesday’s results. But he did remark on the definitive margin between Ganim’s numbers and those of his closest opponents, Republican Enrique Torres and independent Democrat Mary-Jane Foster. Three other petitioning candidates shared a tiny slice of the votes.

“I was surprised over the primary. I’m not surprised over the election results,” Rose said.

Ganim won the September primary, securing the Democratic nomination over current Mayor Bill Finch, who had been endorsed by the Democratic Town Committee in July.

Ganim is widely seen as part of the city’s longstanding Democratic “machine,” Rose said. Many supporters may believe they will get patronage jobs or other perks for getting the vote out for the former mayor of 12 years who spent seven more years in a federal prison on corruption charges.

“Bridgeport had a choice between stepping backward and stepping forward,” Rose said. Voters appear to have liked what they saw from Ganim when he was mayor from 1991 to 2003, he said.

Rose also reflected on Torres’ candidacy. Known as Rick until recent months, Torres decided to begin using his full first name in what Rose said might be an attempt to connect to the city’s growing Latino population. But Torres' decision to run as a Republican probably quashed any inroads there, Rose said.

Torres also ran for mayor as a Republican in 2003 and 2011. He ran an unsuccessful campaign for the 4th District Congressional seat in 2010. In 2013, he became the lone Republican on the Bridgeport City Council.

Could Torres run a successful campaign for mayor next time around?

“I don’t think it’s in the cards,” Rose said.

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