OP-ED | Election 2015: What to Watch for on Election Night
Posted to: Analysis, Election 2015, Opinion, Bridgeport, Fairfield, Hartford, Meriden, Middletown, New Britain, Norwalk, Stonington, Trumbull
Yes, the time of year when election signs are plastered all over town is just about over. Municipal elections are finally here! What should we be watching for on election night 2015?
Obviously all eyes will be on Bridgeport, where ex-felon Joe Ganim won the Democratic nomination back in September to everyone’s disgust. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has very publicly refused to endorse the Democratic nominee, telling reporters, “I have not endorsed the Democratic candidate and I’m a Democrat. I guess there’s a message there.”
When asked why he advocates second chances — a reference to Malloy’s criminal justice reform program — but not in Ganim’s case, the governor hemmed and hawed before saying, “There are second chances… and then there’s well beyond that.”
Right now all hope that Ganim, who went to prison for corruption during his last time as mayor of Bridgeport, will be kept out of the mayor’s chair rests on independent candidate Mary Jane Foster. Foster finished a distant third in September’s primary and lacks the common touch that comes so easily to Ganim, but she may yet win if enough Bridgeport residents agree with just about everyone outside their city that electing Ganim would be less a second chance than letting the fox back into the henhouse and hoping he behaves himself this time.
But I doubt they care what people outside Bridgeport think. Don’t be surprised if Ganim runs away with this thing.
Another story that might make national news is going on in Stonington, where former U.S. Rep. Rob Simmons is running for first selectman. Simmons, a Republican, has always remained popular east of the river even after he narrowly lost to current U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney in 2006. However, town politics are always very different from state and national politics, so it’s anyone’s guess if Simmons will get another chance to serve the public. If he loses, it might end up being a big story.
There are plenty of other races around the state to watch, including one in New Britain. You’d think losing a baseball team and raising taxes would spell doom for first-term Republican Mayor Erin Stewart, but in a shock move she was endorsed by police and fire unions. Usually they support Democrats, and Stewart’s opponent has close union ties, but they apparently feel included and listened to enough that they threw their support to her.
If I had to guess, Stewart is going to wield that sparkly pink sledgehammer of hers (she really has one) on election day and come out a winner.
Oh, and the Hardware City’s getting a new independent league baseball team to replace the Rock Cats at New Britain Stadium. Not a bad turnaround.
Speaking of mid-sized cities, Meriden, Middletown and Norwalk all have interesting races this time around. In Middletown Mayor Dan Drew is facing off against Republican Sandra Russo-Driska in a litigious race that has seen both campaigns file complaints about fundraising with the State Elections Enforcement Commission. I’d be surprised if Drew loses this one.
Both Norwalk and Meriden have first-term mayors facing fairly strong challenges — there’s slightly more chance for Republican Manny Santos of Meriden to lose, given Meriden’s much stronger Democratic lean, but either race could prove to be an upset.
The state parties are wading into two hard-fought races for first selectman, one in Fairfield and one in Trumbull. The Trumbull race is particularly interesting because the Republican incumbent, Tim Herbst, narrowly lost a bid for state treasurer in 2014, and is expected to seek state office again in 2018. The state GOP has an interest in keeping Herbst around, while Democrats would love to see him lose.
Lastly, there shouldn’t be much in the way of drama in Hartford’s general election, though there are already signs that Luke Bronin, who won the Democratic primary in September over incumbent Pedro Segarra, might have his work cut out for him. Former Mayor Thirman Milner backed independent candidate Joel Cruz Jr. in a letter to the Hartford Courant instead of the man who won his party’s endorsement.
As always, there will be surprises and upsets, but incumbents will largely rule the night. It may be tempting to read more into some of the results, especially if Republicans are making significant inroads in places where they usually don’t do so well, but that temptation is best avoided. All politics is local, perhaps, but local politics are even more so.
Be sure to actually get out there and vote!
Susan Bigelow is an award-winning columnist and the founder of CTLocalPolitics. She lives in Enfield with her wife and their cats.
DISCLAIMER: The views, opinions, positions, or strategies expressed by the author are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, or positions of CTNewsJunkie.com.