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Bridgeport gears up for another election, 4th matchup between Mayor Joe Ganim and John Gomes

Incumbent Mayor Joe Ganim (left) and JOhn Gomes (right).
Molly Ingram
Incumbent Mayor Joe Ganim (left) and John Gomes (right).

Tuesday is the redo election for the mayor of Bridgeport. This is the fourth match-up between incumbent Joe Ganim and challenger John Gomes.

Sabrina Garone, host of the WSHU podcast After All Things, spoke with reporter Molly Ingram about what to expect.

SG: So this race for mayor has become a bit of a marathon. How did we get to this point?

MI: So the first primary election back in September was overturned by a judge. He cited videos of Ganim supporters, specifically Wanda Geter-Pataky, going back and forth to the absentee ballot box with handfuls of ballots. The judge said that was reason to believe there was fraud in that first election. Ganim has denied he was involved with that fraud. I should mention that there have also been claims from the Ganim campaign that Gomes was involved with absentee ballot harvesting on his side. Gomes denies that too.

So they went through the general election in November, knowing that the results didn't really matter because they had to redo the primary in January already. So they redid that, Ganim has so far won all three races that they've been in. But Tuesday is the big one. This one should decide once and for all who Bridgeport’s mayor will be for the next four years. I should note that Ganim is the endorsed Democrat. Gomes is running as an independent, and Republican David Herz is still in the race.

SG: The race has gotten a lot of attention, not just in our region, but around the country as well. Can you speak to that a little bit?

MI: Yeah, so the race has gained national attention. People like Elon Musk and Donald Trump were speaking about it. They say it's evidence that there are widespread voter fraud issues with mail-in ballots around the country. Now, according to the Associated Press, absentee ballot fraud is actually very rare. The situation in Bridgeport has become something they've pointed to as 'Hey, you know, this is what happens when you let people vote absentee.' But that's just not supported by evidence.

SG: Can we expect this race to be any different?

MI: This race is different in the sense that hopefully, it's the final election night for a while in Bridgeport. I mean, all eyes are on both campaigns not only to see who wins but if the loser concedes. John Gomes has lost all three races so far, and he has not conceded on election night yet. In the last week, Ganim has received some pretty big endorsements from the state’s top Democrats. They include Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont, Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy, and Representative Jim Himes; it's still too early to tell whether that will make a difference in Tuesday’s race.

SG: And what are you hearing from voters? Are they over it at this point, or is that enthusiasm still there?

MI: People definitely have a lot of election fatigue. And it's in a city where turnout is always low. There were about 13,000 votes cast in the November general election for mayor. That kind of turnout is not good in a city with more than 140,000 people. In terms of who will win tomorrow, Ganim won the last election between these two, the January primary redo, by more than 1,000 votes. He only won in the September primary by 250. So we can't begin to predict what will happen, but the most recent data shows a big surge for Ganim.


Molly is a reporter covering Connecticut. She also produces Long Story Short, a podcast exploring public policy issues across Connecticut.
Sabrina is host and producer of WSHU’s daily podcast After All Things. She also produces the climate podcast Higher Ground and other long-form news and music programs at the station. Sabrina spent two years as a WSHU fellow, working as a reporter and assisting with production of The Full Story.