One day before the Democratic nominating convention, Unite Here! announced its endorsement of Hartford Mayor Eddie Perez’s re-election campaign.
Juanita Brice, a member of Unite Here!, said in 2004 when the Hartford Hilton was going to close the workers went to Perez for help to save their jobs and the city stepped up to buy the hotel saving their jobs. “We need to put him back because he has a dream and a vision,” for the city, Brice said.
Perez took the opportunity Wednesday to address his accomplishments and his opponents.
“Hartford has been on a real come back, and a real reason for that is the way the members of this union and the rest of the city’s residents and workers have come through for our economy and our community,” Perez said. He said the hotel serves as an example of this.
He attributed the come back to the way “we do politics in this city.” He said “gone are the old ways of complain and blame, divide and conquer.”
As for his opponents, Perez said “They can’t attack our record of results. They can’t defeat the growing sense that Hartford is going in the right direction. So they are left to take petty personal potshots at my administration and my supporters.”
But there are a few in Hartford who feel that in securing his political position Perez alienated some members of the Democratic faithful. If he hadn’t, maybe the field of Democratic candidates challenging him wouldn’t be so numerous. There’s state Rep. Art Feltman, I. Charles Mathews, Frank Barrows, Rev. Patrice Smith, state Rep. Minnie Gonzalez, and Raul DeJesus.
Perez said the six Democrats “have been running a Seinfield campaign—a campaign about nothing.”
“Nothing except petty politics and personal attacks,” Perez said. “Here’s the thing. You can tear me down all you want. But that’s not going to prevent one more urder or create one more job or send one more child to college.”
Many of his challengers would dispute this statement and are likely to respond to Perez’s accusations Thursday night at the nominating convention. The following day any of the candidates who don’t receive the Democratic Town Committee’s endorsement will be allowed to file their petitions to get their names on the Sept. 11 primary ballot.
They will need 10 percent or about 2,000 signatures to qualify for the primary.
A few months ago, Mathews said his campaign “likes our chances.” He said 75 to 85 percent of the vote is in the north and west end were voters are the most frustrated with Perez. He said the Perez administration lacks a tax policy and a neighborhood investment plan. The first thing Mathews would do if he were elected is reduce the number of staff in the mayor’s office and beef up public works and licensing and inspection staff “to get the services to the people.”
Last month former Hartford Mayor Mike Peters endorsed Mathews. Maybe he sees a bit of himself in Mathews. Peters lost the Democratic nomination to Carrie Saxon-Perry and ended up winning the race by about 600 votes.
Feltman is so sure the Democratic nominating convention will not reflect the will of the voters that he has decided not to attend. Instead, Feltman is holding a non-convention convention across the street from Thursday’s nominating convention.