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Ganim, with help, balances campaign books

September 13, 2018

BRIDGEPORT — Mayor Joe Ganim spent nearly $850,000 in his unsuccessful bid for governor, and not only is out a $60,000 personal loan, but chipped in an additional $3,500 to help get his campaign’s budget in the black.

According to Ganim’s post-gubernatorial primary finance report, filed Friday with the state, Bridgeport’s mayor raised $840,708 and spent all but $167.57 trying to wrest the Democratic Party’s endorsement from Ned Lamont at the polls Aug. 14.

So the good news is Team Ganim, 30 days later, has no outstanding expenses to worry about.

The mayor does, however, have an unreimbursed $60,000 loan to himself. And Ganim also in late August contributed an additional $3,500 to his by-then failed cause — $2,000 of it on a credit/debit card, $1,500 of it a personal check.

The Bridgeport Democratic Town Committee, run by close Ganim friend Mario Testa, also pitched in $2,000 to help balance the post-primary books.

Ganim’s campaign for governor also raised nearly $4,000 in late August selling off equipment.

As previously reported, seven days before the Aug. 14 contest with Lamont, Team Ganim was running on fumes. His prior criminal conviction prevented the mayor from participating in the state’s so-called clean elections grant program, so he had $173,010 raised the old-fashioned way in his campaign war-chest.

Meanwhile Lamont was a self-funded Greenwich millionaire and cable entrepreneur.

During that final week Ganim did manage to bring in an additional $51,534.

Whether they supported the mayor or just wanted job security, city employees should be glad the governor’s race is over if only because they can stop giving some of their salaries to the boss’ political ambitions. As was the case with the Ganim campaign’s prior campaign finance reports, this last one was peppered with City Hall employees, some of whom had already cut generous checks — Police Chief Armando “A.J.” Perez, Economic Development Director Thomas Gill, David Dunn,the head of Civil Service, Associate City Attorney Mark Anastasi, Gina Malheiro, a mayoral aide and head of the Port Authority, Emergency Operations Director Scott Appleby and Steven Auerbach, who is in charge of the new downtown parking meters.

Controversial collections lawyer Juda Epstein and his family also, through personal contributions and a Political Action Committee— Southern Connecticut Citizens for Government Excellence — gave Ganim $10,000.

Epstein for years has been one of the go-to attorneys for Bridgeport when it comes to collecting unpaid sewer use fees. As such he recently has come under intense criticism from activists and City Council members who want to reform what they consider a too-punitive collections process that gives Epstein plenty of legal fees at the expense of poorer residents.

Ganim’s finance report also gives insight into his cash-strapped end-of-days strategy. The campaign spent $118,251 on television advertising, a few thousand dollars on Internet advertising, and hired get-out-the-vote staff for, on average, $120 to $140 worth of work, mainly in New Haven, Hartford, East Hartford, Waterbury, Stamford, Middletown and New Britain.

Given his big city credentials - Ganim ran Bridgeport from 1991 until his 2003 corruption conviction, then was re-elected in 2015 — the mayor’s gubernatorial campaign was focused on beating Lamont in urban areas. But that effort failed. Even on Ganim’s home turf of Bridgeport the race was closer than his supporters would have liked.

Speaking of that home turf, the mayor does seem intent on seeking another four year term next year.

Ganim had already begun fundraising in early 2017, but, since losing the primary, has declined requests for interviews from Hearst Connecticut Media about his political future locally.

According to his gubernatorial finance report, however, Ganim for Governor sold $2,547 worth of furniture and equipment to Ganim for Bridgeport 2019.

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