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Out-of-town cash, star power backs Moore’s run against Ganim

March 6, 2019

BRIDGEPORT — State Sen. Marilyn Moore says she has what it takes to run Connecticut’s largest city.

But she is relying on cash from beyond Bridgeport’s borders to help her run against well-financed incumbent and fellow Democrat Mayor Joe Ganim.

On top of her city-based fundraisers, Moore is seeking dollars at events in Hartford, Danbury, Westport and Greenwich.

“I’ve got a lot of local ones (planned), but not big, not the $1,000 contributions,” Moore said Tuesday. “How many people do I know in Bridgeport who can afford to give me $1,000?”

The 70-year-old is also turning to some political star power — fresh faces who have shaken up Connecticut’s electoral landscape by challenging the status quo.

On Thursday, Moore’s former legislative partner, recently retired state Sen. Ed Gomes, D-Bridgeport, and Eva Bermudez Zimmerman, the labor organizer from Newtown who last year unsuccessfully challenged Susan Bysiewicz for lieutenant governor, are scheduled to host a fundraiser in Hartford.

Moore and other local minority political leaders backed Bermudez Zimmerman’s bid to diversify the top of the Democrats’ statewide ticket.

“Senator Moore is not only a mentor to me, but to many young women of color trying to make a positive impact in our most vulnerable communities,” said Zimmerman.

Moore, if elected mayor, would be Bridgeport’s first minority chief executive, and the second woman to hold that office.

First-year state Sens. Julie Kushner of Danbury, Will Haskell of Westport and Alex Bergstein of Greenwich all confirmed they want to host fundraisers for Moore’s mayoral bid.

“I’m excited about her vision for Bridgeport,” Haskell said. “I believe many in my community will be as well.”

Bergstein said, “The future of Bridgeport is critical, and Marilyn is a person of integrity who is deeply committed to doing what is best for Connecticut.”

Another fan of Moore’s is freshman U.S. Rep. Jahana Hayes, of Connecticut’s 5th District, who recently appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine. Moore hoped Hayes would host a campaign event.

“I think she is amazing and I love her,” Hayes said.

While all of this outside support might be good for Moore’s campaign coffers, it does open her up to criticism that she does not have a strong base of support in the city she wants to run.

Outsiders and grass roots

Ganim could not be reached for comment Tuesday. But John Ricci, Bridgeport’s public facilities director who helped elect Ganim in 2015 and is closely involved in his re-election campaign, said, “You’re running in Bridgeport, you’d like to get your support from Bridgeport.”

“She may be able to raise money from outside of town, but how does that translate to support at the polls for her?” Ricci said.

Ricci acknowledged that out-of-towners have also cut campaign checks to Ganim. But Ricci maintained that the mayor still enjoys the same “grass-roots support” in Bridgeport that helped him unseat Democratic Mayor Bill Finch in 2015’s primary.

Moore claimed that since launching her mayoral campaign in January she has raised $12,000. Her first finance report must be filed with the town clerk by April 10.

Ganim banked a significant amount of money for his re-election in 2017, then took a lengthy break to focus on his gubernatorial run. The mayor’s campaign finance paperwork shows he raised $194,000 and has $173,800 on hand.

His campaign had tentatively scheduled a fundraiser at Democratic Town Chairman Mario Testa’s North End restaurant for March 22, but that is not moving forward. Ganim and Testa had a brief falling out in February after the mayor fired Deputy Public Facilities Director Joe Tiago, who dates Testa’s niece.

However, Ganim and Testa have since made up.

Anthony Paoletto, Ganim’s campaign treasurer, said the campaign is planning “a big kickoff” for sometime in April, likely at a venue other than Testa’s.

“We’re just trying to figure out where and when, because so many people have called to support him again and want to host,” Paoletto said Tuesday.

Moore has yet to announce whether she will try to face Ganim in a Democratic primary in September, or focus on getting on to the November general election ballot. If she chooses the former, Ricci said, another $100,000 is probably all Ganim would need.

“$275,000 is more than adequate for a primary,” Ricci said.