Greenwich native Luke Bronin may have won the Hartford Democratic Town Committee’s endorsement 49-0 on Monday, but Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra managed to take the spotlight when he rejected his own nomination and quickly walked out of the auditorium.
Trailed by dozens of screaming supporters outside the nominating convention at Bulkeley High School, Segarra didn’t stick around to explain his rebuff. The mayor got into a car and sped off before the majority of the crowd knew what happened.
“We’re taking it to the streets,” one supporter shouted from the crowd that had gathered on the steps outside.
“This nomination is a joke,” yelled another.
But Bronin had his own explanation of Segarra’s walkout.
“It’s very clear that he knew he did not have the support of the Democratic Committee,” he told reporters after accepting the endorsement.
The number of votes needed to reach a majority within the committee is 40. Bronin received 49 votes and Segarra received 0, with 23 abstaining. All of Segarra’s supporters abstained, though it is unclear whether all the abstainers were his supporters.
Bronin, the former legal counsel to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, said he thought the current mayor was trying to overshadow his victory. He said he hadn’t anticipated Segarra’s rejection of the nomination.
Although supporters confirmed the walkout was organized before the convention, Segarra told reporters last week that he expected to secure the endorsement.
“I don’t know how you can call the process corrupt when you say a week ago that you were expecting to get it,” Bronin said. “From the very beginning, I’ve been saying that we need a mayor who will take responsibility and hold himself accountable. What we saw today was a mayor who walked away when he knew he didn’t have the vote. To me that says it all.”
Segarra has called Bronin an “outsider” and “part of the machine” in the past, and did so again in a statement released after his theatrical exit.
“I will not stand by and let outsiders try to buy their way into office and take control of our city,” the mayor said in an emailed statement. “It would be an abomination for us to let political influence determine the character of Hartford that would be represented by someone who has never held political office or advocated on behalf of the City of Hartford.
In choosing to reject the nomination, Segarra made his re-election a little more difficult. In refusing what would have been the simplest way to get on the ballot for September’s primary, he now has to do it the hard way — by collecting approximately 1,700 signatures in two weeks to earn himself a spot on the primary ballot.
“Too much is at stake to hand over the reigns to an outsider who has absolutely no experience to be Mayor and no real relationship with the people here,” Segarra said.
The statement was released after Bronin spoke to reporters, but the newly-endorsed candidate did address similar remarks made in an op-ed by former state Rep. Jonathan Pelto calling him a “wealthy, white and privileged” candidate unfit to serve a city like Hartford.
“These politics of division have got to go,” Bronin said. “Me and my supporters represent all of Hartford.”
Both campaigns said that their next moves will be to gather support before the Sept. 16 primary. Since Democratic voters far outnumber Republicans in the city of 125,000, the Democratic primary is often considered the election.
As of now, Bronin is currently topping the race’s financial ladder, having raised about $610,000 with $500,000 cash on hand to Segarra’s $110,813.
Bronin and Segarra were the only two to be nominated for mayor at Monday night’s convention. John Gale and Robert Killian dropped out over the last two weeks and endorsed Bronin.