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Candidates scramble for Marilyn Moore's CT Senate seat

Sen. Marilyn Moore announces on the Senate floor at the Connecticut State Capitol on Wednesday, May 8, 2024, that she will not seek re-election.
Joe Buglewicz
Connecticut Public
Sen. Marilyn Moore announces on the Senate floor at the Connecticut State Capitol on Wednesday, May 8, 2024, that she will not seek re-election.

Several candidates, including a former mayor and City Council member, have confirmed they are seeking State Sen. Marilyn Moore’s seat after she announced Wednesday she was declining to seek reelection.

Former Bridgeport mayor Bill Finch, who served as state senator for the same district 20 years ago, said he would prioritize job creation.

“I think that I could be that kind of catalyst that helps us understand how fighting climate change is going to create great jobs, for building trades, living wage jobs,” Finch said.

Finch joins other candidates who confirmed they are running for Moore’s seat, such as former Bridgeport City Council member Tyler Mack and Trumbull resident Sujata Gadkar-Wilcox, who previously ran for a state representative seat in 2018 and 2022.

They have limited time to woo potential votes. The convention to endorse Democratic candidates for federal and state legislative offices begins Tuesday, May 14 at 5:30 p.m. at Bridgeport City Hall. Approximately 58 delegates from the state Democratic Party within the 22nd district —comprising Trumbull, parts of Bridgeport and Monroe — will decide whom to endorse.

Finch said he doesn’t expect any candidate to get a majority of the vote for an endorsement, partly due to the suddenness of Moore’s announcement.

“We weren't anticipating this,” he said.

Mack confirmed his bid Thursday.

The 28-year-old, who was endorsed by Bridgeport Generation Now Votes, a reform-minded voter outreach group for his City Council elections, said he’s committed to serve.

From left: Bill Finch, Tyler Mack and Sujata Gadkar Wilcox

"I love Bridgeport. I love Trumbull. I love Monroe. And I really just want to give back and do what's best for the people," Mack said.

Despite this being the first time Mack would seek state election, Gemeem Davis, the co-director and president of Bridgeport Generation Now Votes, said he’s an experienced vote getter, despite his relative youth.

While the candidates are proclaiming their dedication to their district, Finch, who has decades of experience in Bridgeport politics, believes lining up enough delegates could be a challenge due to Trumbull having 21 delegates, Monroe having four and Bridgeport having 34. This could affect how many votes a candidate gets.

“Not only did he run good, clean campaigns in 2021 and 2023, he was the top vote getter in the south end and downtown districts,” Davis said.

The future winner would replace Moore, who first got elected in 2014 as a reform-minded candidate. She would later go on to challenge Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim in two ill-fated mayoral primary campaigns in 2019 and 2023. But Moore was unable to gain enough signatures to appear in last year’s primary.

Mack was endorsed during his council runs by Unrig Bridgeport, a reform-minded coalition that attacked Bridgeport’s party machine politics. Those criticisms came to a head during a highly contested 2023 primary where Ganim’s campaign, as well as challenger John Gomes’, were accused of absentee ballot fraud.

Gadkar-Wilcox, a Trumbull resident and Quinnipiac professor, confirmed Friday she would run.

“This seat requires somebody who understands that because it's three different towns; it requires somebody who understands the needs of all three,” Gadkar-Wilcox said.

Gadkar-Wilcox, unlike other candidates, has not served in an elected position, but was recently appointed by Gov. Ned Lamont to the state’s Human Rights Commission, and has taught human rights and constitutional law classes.

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