By: Kaila DeSaix
On November 5, 2019, Incumbent Mayor of Bridgeport, CT, Joe Ganim, officially won four more years, marking his seventh term in office. Ganim’s re-election campaign has been a controversial one. His rival in the Democratic primary election, Marilyn Moore, accused Ganim of winning the Democratic primary through absentee voter fraud. Ganim is not unfamiliar with accusations of political fraud and corruption. Ganim has been a controversial political figure since his seven-year stint in federal prison following his fifth term as Bridgeport mayor. Following his release from prison, his message of redemption and second chances won him an unlikely sixth term as mayor in 2015. Despite his successful comeback, some Democrats remain suspicious of his political dealings, as evidenced by his highly contested primary election win in September. This year’s election continued to be controversial up through the day before the general election when a decision was made by the Connecticut Supreme Court to proceed with the general election despite a voter fraud lawsuit still being on appeal against Ganim.
The lawsuit was brought by allies to Moore’s campaign – Bridgeport Generation Now Voters and PT Partners. The plaintiffs named are three voters from Bridgeport named Beth Lazar, Annette Goodridge, and Vanessa Liles. The organizations spoke in court on behalf of the plaintiffs. The plaintiffs claim that Ganim only won the primary against Moore because of absentee voter fraud. Bridgeport Generation Now Voters described various violations they allegedly uncovered while speaking with voters in Bridgeport. They alleged that this was clearly evidenced in the results of the election: Moore beat Ganim at the polls, 4,721 to 4,337 but Ganim managed to pull ahead by 270 votes with absentee ballots. The grassroots group, PT Partner, alleged that Ganim received these additional absentee votes by coercing vulnerable low-income and senior voters into voting for Ganim. Superior Court Judge Barry K. Stevens dismissed the case. He declared that the voters were not considered “aggrieved electors” under state law and therefore did not have the legal standing to bring the case to court. Despite the case being on appeal, the plaintiffs hoped that the Connecticut Supreme Court would halt the general election until the primary results were verified.
On November 4, 2019 the Connecticut Supreme Court listened to several oral arguments and deliberated on the issue of whether or not to still hold the Bridgeport mayoral election on November 5. Unsurprisingly, the court held that the election should continue as planned with Ganim as the Democratic candidate and Moore as an option for a write-on. The court expressed discomfort in the idea of upsetting the election date without evidence strong enough to indicate serious election law violations.
Despite the ruling on the lawsuit in favor of Ganim, Marilyn Moore expressed her commitment to moving forward with her campaign and instructing voters on the proper ways to write-in candidates. Likely due to her efforts in promoting herself as a write-in candidate for mayor, Moore won over 29% of the Bridgeport vote on November 5. The number of write-in votes dramatically overshadows the number of votes for Republican candidate, John Rodriguez, at less than 10% of the Bridgeport vote.