BRIDGEPORT — Despite losing two Democratic primaries and a general election to incumbent Mayor Joe Ganim, challenger John Gomes announced on Wednesday that he would continue his campaign for the city’s top spot, setting a second court-ordered election in motion for February.
The three recent elections — the original primary and general election, and a primary redo last week — named Ganim the winner, and many, including Gov. Ned Lamont, said they would like to “turn the page” on the Bridgeport mayoral race.
But at a Wednesday news conference, Gomes said no amount of pressure could convince him to concede to Ganim.
“Selected few are desperate to get back to business as usual, but this is not business as usual,” he said. “We have a problem in Bridgeport that cannot be solved without the help of those in elected office.”
The new general election will be the fourth Bridgeport election in seven months, and was ordered by Judge William Clark in November. He concluded that election fraud took place after city surveillance footage captured Ganim supporters stuffing stacks of absentee ballots into dropboxes ahead of the Sept. 12 primary.
Two other candidates set to appear on the February ballot — Republican David Herz and petitioning candidate Lamond Daniels — have dropped out of the race, but Gomes’ decision to continue has cemented the Feb. 27 election.
Gomes also said Clark’s ruling should serve as a reminder to those who called for his withdrawal after losing to Ganim by 1,077 votes in the Jan. 23 primary do-over, noting Bridgeport needs to address its history of systematic election abuse.
“Win or lose, we will never give up on Bridgeport,” he said. “It’s our city and it’s our time.”
Soon after Gomes’ announcement, however. Ganim called his opponent’s spot on the Feb. 27 ballot into question.
According to a letter obtained by News 12 Connecticut on Wednesday, Bridgeport Independent Party Chairman Wilfredo Martinez told Gomes that his nomination with the party was “out of order.”
After losing to Ganim in the September primary, Gomes appeared on the Nov. 7 general election ballot as an Independent Party candidate. But in his letter, Martinez said Gomes’ nomination did not meet the state’s deadline. Given the confusion, he also asked the challenger to concede.
During his own news conference, Ganim questioned why Gomes would force the city to spend another $120,000 on a fourth election, especially given Martinez’s letter.
“He’s not satisfied with the last three losses and wants to do it again, so we’re here today,” Ganim said. “There’s a legal question whether he can even be on the ballot, and he seems like he’s sidestepping that.”
Ganim said Gomes has been “abandoned” by the Democratic Party twice now, and called his nomination with the Independent Party a sham.
At Gomes’ campaign headquarters, however, two members of the Connecticut Independent Party — John Fahan and Shawn Brown — stood beside the candidate and backed his party nomination.
Regarding Martinez’s letter, Brown said there was no question about Gomes’ legal standing on the ballot. The local party leader can have his own opinions, he said, but the chair of the state Independent Party, Micheal Telesca, supports the challenger.
“Just like John Gomes, we don’t say one thing and do another,” Brown said. “It was the chair’s idea to support, so we’re going to follow through.”