Challenger for mayor in Bridgeport says he's staying in race depsite losing do-over primary
A challenger to the mayor of Connecticut’s largest city announced Wednesday that he's staying in the race, despite losing a do-over Democratic primary ordered by a judge who threw out the results of the last one because of allegations of absentee ballot stuffing.
“I have met with my supporters and we have decided not to abandon this campaign because all voters have a final say as to how should we elect the next mayor for the great city of Bridgeport,” John Gomes declared.
Gomes is eligible to appear on the ballot for the special Feb. 27 general election as the Independent Party candidate.
Gomes has come under pressure to bow out of the protracted and complicated race after incumbent Mayor Joe Ganim won last week's primary. Ganim is seeking re-election to a third four-year term since having served seven years in prison for corruption during his first stint as mayor from 1991 to 2003.
Gomes has continued to accuse Ganim's campaign of absentee ballot fraud. But while Gomes has said he will continue to campaign for the position, he's doing so as the Bridgeport chair for the Bridgeport Independent Party has also called on Gomes to drop out, but the state party organization continues to back him.
When asked why he thinks his fourth attempt to defeat Ganim will go any differently, since he's still accusing Ganim's campaign of fraud, Gomes said his continued campaign is itself, a statement against the city's status quo.
"To give up is to concede and to concede is to accept and to accept is to repeat history and to repeat history means that Bridgeport will never change," Gomes said.
Gomes and two other candidates — Republican David Herz and petitioning candidate Lamond Daniels — have been urged to step aside by Bridgeport City Council leaders. Gov. Ned Lamont also said recently the city needed to move on.
Daniels received the second lowest vote share, getting a little over 13% of the vote.
He released a letter announcing he would drop out.
“I have recognized that the institutional advantages of incumbency are not within my reach as a mayoral candidate.” Daniels said. “Therefore, I do not see a rationale for continuing an unwinnable campaign in the new general election.”
Gomes first ran for mayor in the September mayoral primary, with initial results showing Ganim originally won.
But Gomes immediately claimed the primary was tainted, accusing Ganim’s campaign of electoral fraud. Gomes’ campaign filed a lawsuit to toss the results of the primary. The original results were thrown out in Superior Court by late October after a judge said they could not be trusted due to absentee ballot fraud allegedly committed by Ganim campaign volunteers.
The decision forced another primary in January even as the general election went ahead as usual in November.
Gomes continued to claim Ganim’s campaign engaged in absentee ballot fraud, but Ganim’s team hit back with similar accusations.
Ganim ended up winning a more decisive victory in the Jan. 23 primary, winning a little over 56% of the vote, according to official state results.
Secretary of the State Stephanie Thomas announced Tuesday that 14 absentee ballots were accidentally not counted. However, despite the oversight the results of that election remain unchanged, she said.
Gomes said the vote tallies were not in his favor on primary night, a marked change from his initial reaction during the September primary, when he immediately claimed the primary vote was tainted by fraud.
This story has been updated. The Associated Press contributed to this report.