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Moore, Stallworth negotiating mayoral bids

January 17, 2019

BRIDGEPORT — Maybe they should flip a coin.

State Sen. Marilyn Moore and state Rep. Charlie Stallworth are in talks to decide which of them would be the better candidate to challenge Mayor Joe Ganim in this year’s municipal election.

“We’re just trying to work it out,” Moore said Thursday.

This was the week Moore, 70, and Stallworth, 54, were supposed to decide whether they would take on Ganim, who has already raised over $170,000 toward another four-year term.

Stallworth, who played a key role in returning Ganim to City Hall in 2015 — he was first mayor in the 1990s — in late December told Hearst Connecticut Media he was considering running himself and would decide by mid-January.

Moore last week told Hearst she was “leaning toward” a mayoral bid and would have a formal announcement this week.

Instead they are in private talks to avoid dividing voters to Ganim’s benefit.

“We’re in conversations, trying to put all of our thoughts and ideas together to see who would make a better candidate to move the city forward,” Stallworth said. “Let’s pull the communities together.”

“If we’re going to move forward, it doesn’t help for us to divide ... so someone else can step in,” Moore said. “That’s not doing the best for the people of Bridgeport. So we want to be very thoughtful in our approach.”

Were either elected, Moore or Stallworth would become Bridgeport’s first black chief executive.

Moore has for a few years been considered a mayoral contender. She has cultivated a reputation for operating independent of the Democratic Town Committee, run by close Ganim friend Mario Testa, and also has not been afraid to criticize the mayor.

In contrast, Stallworth, pastor of East End Baptist Church, played a huge role in 2015 in helping convince voters to re-elect Ganim. And while his relationship with Ganim publicly fell apart over the last three years, Stallworth had until December mostly remained mum about the mayor’s job performance.

“The dream that existed then (2015) in conversation with him is not the dream that was fulfilled in the actual unfolding of the administration,” Stallworth told Hearst in December.

Still, for the last few weeks some political insiders have speculated that Stallworth is part of a conspiracy to weaken Moore’s chances against the incumbent by entering the race.

“The very thought of that is obnoxious to me,” Stallworth said, promising that if he does not run, he will never cut a deal with the incumbent and endorse Ganim for another four-year term.

Moore said she believes Stallworth.

“He might have another agenda (for considering a mayoral bid) but I don’t think he would sit down and try and work things out because that’s not what they (Ganim and his allies) would want,” Moore said.

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