BRIDGEPORT — Aaron Turner will not use the Working Families third party line to keep up his fight to succeed his retiring mentor, state Sen. Ed Gomes.
Gomes, who represents both Bridgeport and Stratford residents of the 23rd state Senate District, made history by becoming the first candidate in the nation elected to a state legislature solely on the Working Families’ ballot line in a February 2015 special election.
That line is still there if Turner, who lost the Aug. 14 primary for Gomes’ seat to endorsed fellow Democrat Dennis Bradley, wants it. It would then be a three-way race in the November general election between Bradley, Turner and Republican John Rodriguez.
“I do have that option. But I’m not going to exercise it,” Turner said Monday.
Lindsay Farrell, the Connecticut Working Families Party’s executive director, confirmed, “He has told us he doesn’t want to run.”
The Working Families endorsed Turner over Bradley, even though the party supported Bradley in 2015 when he ran successfully for Bridgeport’s school board.
Turner said Gomes’ situation was different when the latter ran successfully three years ago as the Working Families Party candidate.
“It was a special election in the heart of winter. The only election in town,” Turner said.
At that time, Gomes was trying to retake the 23rd District seat he had lost in 2012 when he was defeated in that year’s Democratic primary by Andres Ayala. The special election was scheduled after Ayala resigned from the legislature to become commissioner of the state Department of Motor Vehicles.
Gomes, having been denied the Democrats’ endorsement for the special election, ran as the Working Families’ candidate and won.
Then in 2016, Bradley was endorsed by the Democratic Town Committee for Gomes’ seat, and the incumbent, with help from his Working Families allies, forced an August primary and prevailed.
Gomes in an interview Monday agreed with Turner’s decision not to continue his campaign, arguing it would be too challenging. Gomes noted how, in Democrat-dominated Bridgeport, “Once you win the primary you’re sort of sealed in there. There are people that just say, ‘Are you a Democrat?’ They vote the party line.”
But Gomes also encouraged Turner to remain in politics and run in a future election.
“As far as future runs, it’s always a possibility,” Turner said.
Farrell said the Working Families Party has no plans to remain involved in the 23rd Distirct race. She said the party will take a wait-and-see attitude toward Bradley.
“He got elected to the Board of Education and we supported him then, and then he immediately challenged Ed Gomes, one of our champions. That left a bad taste in people’s mouths,” Farrell said. “We hope we will be able to work well with him (in the legislature) and that he will serve the district well. Let’s see.”