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Ganim Now Faces Rebuilding Trust With Connecticut Officials

(AP Photo/Bob Child, File)

Joe Ganim, the convicted former mayor of Bridgeport who reclaimed his old seat in a surprising political comeback Tuesday, must now rebuild relationships with Connecticut's governor and other leaders who shunned him during the election.

After handily defeating seven candidates, the Democrat said he now wants to work with federal, state and local officials to improve quality of life in the state's largest city.

"There's so much to do and so much more can be done with everyone pulling in the same direction as quickly as we can,'' Ganim said.

Some former detractors are extending olive branches.

At Tuesday night's postelection celebration, Connecticut Democratic Party Chairman Nick Balleto appeared on stage with Ganim, pledging support from the state's constitutional officers, including Gov. Dannel P. Malloy. Just the mention of Malloy brought a chorus of boos from the boisterous crowd, upset that Malloy didn't back Ganim in the general election. Malloy also said he would not vote for Ganim if he were a Bridgeport resident.

"He talked bad about him,'' said Eddie Moro, a Ganim supporter, referring to Malloy.

But a day after the surprising election, Malloy appeared more conciliatory toward Ganim, who served seven years in prison for public corruption. Malloy said he left a congratulatory message for Ganim and looked forward to working with him.

"Listen, Bridgeport made a decision and I've said all along, whoever the mayor is, the first selectman of any community, will be treated with great respect and we'll work with them,'' Malloy said. "It's who you represent that's important.''

Malloy said his administration is prepared to move forward despite knowing Ganim's record. He first served in office from 1991 until 2003, when he was convicted of 16 federal charges stemming from a scheme to steer city contracts in exchange for hundreds of thousands of dollars in expensive wine, custom clothes, cash and home improvements.

Ganim's comeback was fueled by a wave of good will from many who fondly remembered his years in office, crediting his leadership for lower taxes, safer neighborhoods and cleaner parks.

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