Shelton’s Lauretti for Bridgeport mayor?
SHELTON — He took the annual Columbus Day Parade away from Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim.
So does Shelton Mayor Mark Lauretti, a Republican, want Democrat Ganim’s job as well?
And being a former restauranteur he may be able to trade political recipes with Mario Testo, the longtime Bridgeport kingpin who doesn’t do a bad job in the kitchen.
That odd rumor — Lauretti has been Shelton’s mayor for 27 years and would need to move to Bridgeport — began circulating Wednesday night. Lauretti’s term ends next year, as does Ganim’s, who is running for re-election.
The trial balloon being floated brought laughs and disbelief from many Shelton political leaders.
“I’m speechless,” said Dave Gioiello, Shelton’s Democratic town chairman, while unsuccessfully attempting to repress laughter.
Lauretti could not immediately be reached for comment Thursday. But Mike Garrett, Bridgeport’s Republican chairman, decided to call Shelton’s mayor after being contacted about the rumor by Hearst Connecticut Media.
Garrett subsequently told Hearst that Lauretti said, “At this point in my political career I am not ruling anything out.”
“He did say under the right leadership Bridgeport could be a great place,” added Garrett.
Garrett said he would be open to Lauretti’s candidacy.
“Take a look at employment in Bridgeport as opposed to employment in Shelton,” he said. “I think the Republicans would look at his record in Shelton and find his candidacy favorable.”
And should Lauretti decide not to run as a Republican—his longtime party who he’s recently had issues with during his run for governor, is becoming a Democrat a possibility?
“We do have a big tent,” said Gioiello. “I’m not sure its that big.”
One Shelton Republican leader and Lauretti supporter was surprised to be told of it.
Still he remarked: “Everything he touches turns to gold. Look at the Columbus Day Parade we had a big crowd downtown.”
But John Anglace, another longtime Republican and Lauretti supporter, believes it’s just “rhetoric. He’s done a great job here but he still has his hands full. Our people wouldn’t want him to leave.”
It says a little bit about the challenges Bridgeport’s sorely outnumbered GOP faces when it looks to an out-of-towner to run for mayor. Garrett admitted, “I don’t have (other) names I can give you presently” who want to represent the local Republican Party against Ganim on next year’s mayoral ballot.
And while Lauretti, were he to move to Bridgeport and run, might be criticized as a carpetbagger, he does have city connections. He was a teacher and a coach at Central High School and last year was the grand marshal of the Columbus Day Parade.
That event, after 109 years in Bridgeport, was held earlier this week in Shelton after Lauretti agreed to be the host when Ganim tried to force the parade to help pay for police overtime.
Heck, Ganim, who was mayor from 1991 until 2003, was living in Easton before deciding to mount a successful 2015 comeback for his old job and renting an apartment in the city.