Christine Stuart / ctnewsjunkie
Joe Ganim concedes (Christine Stuart / ctnewsjunkie)

BRIDGEPORT, CT — Forty minutes after the polls closed Tuesday The Associated Press called the Democratic gubernatorial primary for Ned Lamont. Shortly afterward, Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim was on the phone congratulating him for a “spirited primary.”

Ganim said he told Lamont that’s he’s “pretty tough” and the two had a good conversation about a “struggle for a better Connecticut” and how they make it better.

“Tonight that fight does not end,” Ganim told a crowd of about 60 supporters. “The Democratic Party comes together … now we need to get on the same page.”

Lamont’s decision not to go on the offensive against Ganim, who served seven years in federal prison for public corruption, paid off. There wasn’t much excitement for Lamont from voters for his candidacy, but he was able to win the support of the party establishment at the convention forcing Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim to petition his way onto the ballot.

The mood at Ganim’s headquarters was one of exhaustion. Supporters said they had stayed up all night placing signs and getting ready for the election that would prove everyone deserves a second chance.

The message resonated in Bridgeport, but it wasn’t enough to win over the entire state which has one of the highest levels of income inequality in the country.

Martha Luciano of Farmington said she voted for Lamont because he seemed “down to earth.”

In New Haven, voters lacked enthusiasm for Lamont.

To win, Lamont needs an enthusiastic turnout in New Haven, home to the largest contingent of Democratic voters in the state. Current Gov. Dannel P. Malloy needed an 18,000-vote plurality here to win the job; U.S. senators have relied on similar margins.

Throughout the city Tuesday, even voters who chose Lamont shrugged their way to the polls. It was striking how difficult it was to find a single enthusiastic comment from a voter, even a Lamont voter, for the candidate. At polling place after polling place, the reaction was a marked difference from the ardor expressed for a different candidate, Eva Bermudez Zimmerman, the Democratic challenge candidate for lieutenant governor. Bermudez Zimmerman, like Ganim, was counting on the urban vote; her better known opponent, party-endorsed Susan Bysiewicz, didn’t even bother campaigning much in the city or putting up signs at most polling places. Bermudez Zimmerman captured about 54 percent of the vote in New Haven, and all the visible passion.

Lamont, the endorsed Democratic candidate and the great-grandson of J.P. Morgan’s chief executive, largely self-financed his campaign. In 2010, when he lost the Democratic nomination for governor, he spent about $9 million, mostly from his own coffers. This year he’s spent far less.

Lamont has raised about $2.57 million, a majority of which came from a personal loan, and has spent about $1.6 million. About $1 million of that has gone toward television advertisements.

As an ex-convict, Ganim was barred from participating in the public-financing system and has been forced to raise money on his own. He petitioned his way onto the ballot and has loaned his campaign $60,000 while raising nearly $740,000. He had spent about $246,000 of that as of the end of July.

His supporters were excited about his candidacy and willing to work hard for the mayor who won back the job after a jury convicted him for tax evasion and racketeering.

Lamont has criticized Ganim for making the race about Lamont and not focusing on the future of Connecticut.

Ganim said he was working to make sure Connecticut was working for everyone, not just a few.

“I want to congratulate Ned and his entire team on their victory tonight,” Democratic Party Chairman Nick Balletto said. “I also want to congratulate Mayor Ganim on a hard-fought campaign. This primary was about an exchange of ideas, and Ned earned this win by crossing the state and talking to voters about what he stands for and what his plans are to lead the state forward.”

Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim concedes primary 2018

Posted by on Tuesday, August 14, 2018

New Haven Independent reporting was included in this report.