Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and Luke Bronin drop in on Democratic campaign workers Monday night. CTMIRROR.ORG
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and Luke Bronin drop in on Democratic campaign workers Monday night.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and Luke Bronin drop in on Democratic campaign workers Monday night. CTMIRROR.ORG

A Bridgeport mayoral contest featuring a comeback attempt by Joseph P. Ganim, the Democrat forced from city hall by his corruption conviction a dozen years ago, tops the list of races to watch today as voters choose chief elected officials in 130 cities and towns.

At the other end of the coastline, former Congressman Rob Simmons, 72, who lost his congressional seat in 2006, is attempting a lower-key return to elective politics as the Republican challenger for first selectman in Stonington, a seaport community of 18,000.

In all, voters go to the polls in 165 of Connecticut’s 169 communities to elect school boards, councils or other municipal office holders. The exceptions are four towns that still hold local elections in May: Andover, Bethany, Woodbridge and Union.

The races are a mix of the bitterly contested and pre-ordained, fights with strictly local consequences, those that could reflect on the potential of municipal officials looking to move up the ladder, and a handful that Republicans hope might be influenced by the unpopularity of the state’s Democratic governor, Dannel P. Malloy.

“Last year’s race was about me, where I beat them by 28,000 votes. They forget that,” Malloy said Monday night after dropping in on workers at Democratic state headquarters in Hartford. “Local elections are just that; they are local elections. Sure, there is a little carry-over flavor from anything that’s going on at any particular point.”

Fairfield tops the list of communities where the GOP hopes to take control of municipal government, said J.R. Romano, the Republican state chairman.

Chris Tymniak, the Republican challenger, has made the prospect of losing a major corporate employer, General Electric, a central element of his challenge to the Democratic first selectman, Michael Tetreau. GE is exploring a move out of state, blaming the state’s business climate and taxes.

Both state parties have supported their Fairfield candidates with mailers and other assistance, even though party officials say they typically can only help at the margins.

“For the most part, all politics is local,” Romano said. “I like to say we’re here to get you from the five-yard line to the goal line.”

Bridgeport and Hartford, respectively the state’s largest city and its capital, will pick new mayors: Both cities’ incumbent mayors lost Democratic primaries in September and will not be on the ballot today.

Malloy to work with ‘whoever is mayor’ in Bridgeport

Malloy backed the loser in the Bridgeport primary, Mayor Bill Finch. He’s made no secret of his discomfort at seeing Ganim, who served seven years in prison on federal racketeering and corruption charges, return to power.

“It’s an unusual election,” Malloy said. “It probably will receive, one way or the other, some national attention for its notoriety. But when the votes are counted, whoever is mayor we’re going to work with.”

Ganim is one of seven mayoral candidates on the ballot in Bridgeport. His two major opponents are Republican Enrique Torres and Mary-Jane Foster, a Democrat running as a petitioning candidate after finishing third in the primary behind Ganim and Finch.

Malloy has no reservations about Luke Bronin, who beat Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra in a Democratic primary and is heavily favored to top a field of four today. Bronin is Malloy’s former general counsel, and the governor intends to visit Bronin’s campaign headquarters today and attend his victory party tonight.

New London will elect a new mayor to succeed Daryl J. Finizio, who lost a Democratic primary to Michael Passero, a city council leader and former city firefighter. The Republican candidate is Raymond Vogel.

In all, there are more than a dozen races where the incumbent lost a primary or chose not to run. Mayor Scott Jackson of Hamden, a Democrat whom Malloy had tapped for some high-profile assignments, is among those not seeking re-election.

At least two Republican local officials who make no secret of their ambitions for statewide office are up for re-election: Mayor Mark D. Boughton of Danbury and First Selectman Timothy M. Herbst of Trumbull.

Boughton, 51, twice a candidate for the GOP gubernatorial nomination, is unopposed for an eighth two-year term.

Herbst, 35, is challenged by Democrat Vicki Tesoro. If Herbst can’t be unseated, Democrats at least hope to keep his vote totals down, perhaps taking a little luster off any future statewide campaign.

Three women, two Democrats and a Republican, will try to convert offices won in upsets two years ago into safe seats with second-term victories today.

In New Britain, Mayor Erin Stewart, 28, a Republican, faces a challenge from John McNamara, the Democratic town chairman. Democrat Anita Dugatto, the first female mayor of Derby, faces Republican Richard P. Dziekan. Julia Pemberton, the first Democrat to lead Redding in a quarter century, is challenged by Republican Eric Witt for first selectman.

GOP urban mayors up for 2nd terms

Stewart is not the only first-term Republican mayor up for re-election in a small city. Others are David S. Cassetti in Ansonia, Ken Cockayne in Bristol and Manny Santos in Meriden.

Mayor Harry W. Rilling, a Democrat who unseated a GOP incumbent two years ago in Norwalk, seeks his second term. Mayor Neil M. O’Leary, a Democrat is favored to win re-election in a four-way race in Waterbury.

New Haven Mayor Toni Harp, a Democrat who won an open seat two years ago, has only token opposition.

Celebrating a political anniversary, Malloy described himself as nostalgic: “It was 20 years ago I was elected mayor of Stamford.”

Stamford’s City Hall turned Republican after Malloy chose not to seek re-election as mayor in 2009, the year before he won his first-term as governor. Democrat David Martin regained the mayoralty two years ago. The winner of a four-year term, Martin is not on the ballot this year.

Hit the ‘easy button’ in these races

Democrats have endorsed no candidate for the chief elected official in 28 communities: Cromwell, Danbury, Darien, Durham, Easton, Ellington, Farmington, Franklin, Goshen, Granby, Hampton, Harwinton, Ledyard, Litchfield, New Canaan, Newtown, North Stonington, Plymouth, Preston, Sharon, Wallingford, Warren, Washington, Westbrook, Willington, Wolcott, Woodbury and Woodstock.

Republicans made no endorsement in 18: Barkhamsted, Beacon Falls, Brooklyn, Canaan, Colebrook, Deep River, East Granby, Kent, New Haven, Norfolk, Plainfield, Putnam, Ridgefield, Salisbury, Voluntown, West Haven, Willington and Wolcott.

(A sharp-eyed reader of the above two paragraphs might note that neither major party endorsed a candidate in Willington and Wolcott. That’s not a typo. Both towns have incumbents unaffiliated with a major party: First Selectman Christina Beebe Mailhos of Willington and Mayor Thomas G. Dunn of Wolcott.)

There are also four communities where the major parties have settled on the same candidate.

In Bethlehem, the Democratic first selectman, Leonard J. Assard, was cross-endorsed by the GOP. Three Republican first selectmen, Arthur Brodeur of Eastford, Kevin Skulczyck of Griswold and Ralph F. Eno Jr. of Lyme, were cross-endorsed by Democrats.

Skulczyck is an unexpected choice for a free pass. He is a first-term selectman whose margin of victory two years ago was reported on election night as one vote. A recount gave him a two-vote win, 854 to 852.

And then there’s ‘Mayor Bob’

In Prospect, Mayor Robert J. Chatfield is opposed by a Democrat, Theresa Cocchiola Graveline. But Chatfield has been re-elected every two years since taking office in 1977, two years before the birth of the man expected to be Hartford’s next mayor, 36-year-old Luke Bronin.

Candidates for the Top Municipal Offices
130 cities and towns are electing mayors, first selectmen and other top offices.
Ansonia Mayor Edward J. Adamowski David S. Cassetti
Ashford First Selectman Michael J. Zambo Michael J. Zambo
Barkhamsted First Selectman Don Stein No Endorsement
Beacon Falls First Selectman Christopher J. Bielik No Endorsement
Bethel First Selectman Matthew S. Knickerbocker William I. Duff Matthew S. Knickerbocker (WF) William I. Duff (I)
Bethlehem First Selectman Leonard J. Assard Leonard J. Assard
Bolton First Selectman Gwen E. Marrion Robert R. Morra
Bozrah First Selectman Glenn A. Pianka Jonathan C. Gilman Kitty McCue (PC)
Branford First Selectman Mark Rabinowitz James B. Cosgrove Jacey Wyatt (IBV)
Bridgeport Mayor Joseph P. Ganim Enrique (Rick) Torres David Daniels, III (PC) Mary Jane Foster (PC) Christopher J. Taylor (PC) Tony Barr (PC) Charles J. Coviello, Jr. (TNM)
Bristol Mayor Ellen A. Zoppo-Sassu Ken Cockayne
Brookfield First Selectman Steve Dunn William N. Tinsley
Brooklyn First Selectman Richard Ives No Endorsement
Canaan First Selectman Patricia Allyn Mechare No Endorsement
Canterbury First Selectman Kim Kelly Roy A. Piper
Canton First Selectman Thomas Sevigney Leslee Hill
Chaplin First Selectman Irene Schein Matthew Cunningham
Chester First Selectman Lauren S. Gister Carolyn S. Linn
Clinton First Selectman William W. Fritz, Jr. Bruce Farmer Vin Cimino (CFP)
Colchester First Selectman Kurt Frantzen Art Shiloski
Colebrook First Selectman Thomas D. McKeon No Endorsement
Cornwall First Selectman Gordon Ridgway K.C. Baird
Cromwell Mayor No Endorsement Enzo Faienza
Danbury Mayor No Endorsement Mark D. Boughton
Darien First Selectman No Endorsement Jayme J. Stevenson Robert A. Werner (PC) Christian Noe (PC)
Deep River First Selectman Richard H. Smith No Endorsement
Derby Mayor Anita Dugatto Richard P. Dziekan
Durham First Selectman No Endorsement Laura L. Francis
Eastford First Selectman Arthur Brodeur Arthur Brodeur
East Granby First Selectman James M. Hayden No Endorsement
East Haddam First Selectman Mark B. Walter Edmund Gubbins
East Hartford Mayor Marcia A. Leclerc Tom Ogar
East Haven Mayor Michael P. Speer Joseph Maturo, Jr. Salvatore R. Maltese (I)
East Lyme First Selectman Steve Carpenteri Mark C. Nickerson
East Windsor First Selectman Denise Menard Robert L. Maynard
Easton First Selectman No Endorsement Adam Dunsby
Ellington First Selectman No Endorsement Lori L. Spielman
Essex First Selectman Norman N. Needleman Bruce Glowac
Fairfield First Selectman Michael C. Tetreau Christopher Tymniak Christopher Tymniak (I)
Farmington Chairman of the Town Council No Endorsement Nancy Nickerson
Franklin First Selectman No Endorsement Richard L. Matters
Goshen First Selectman No Endorsement Robert P. Valentine
Granby First Selectman No Endorsement B. Scott Kuhnly
Greenwich First Selectman Frank Farricker Peter J. Tesei James C. Reilly (PC)
Griswold First Selectman Kevin Skulczyck Kevin Skulczyck
Haddam First Selectman Melissa J. Schlag Lizz Milardo
Hamden Mayor Curt Balzano Leng Bob Anthony
Hampton First Selectman No Endorsement Allan R. Cahill
Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin Theodore T. Cannon Joel Cruz, Jr. (PC) Patrice Smith (PC)
Hartland First Selectman Wade E. Cole Christopher Gust
Harwinton First Selectman No Endorsement Michael R. Criss
Kent First Selectman Bruce K. Adams No Endorsement
Killingworth First Selectman Catherine Iino Robert Drew Blaine G. Isakson (KC)
Lebanon First Selectman Stephen F. Salisbury Betsy Petrie Barbara A. Griffin (PC)
Ledyard Mayor No Endorsement Michael Finkelstein
Lisbon First Selectman Jeremiah E. Shea Thomas W. Sparkman
Litchfield First Selectman No Endorsement Leo Paul, Jr.
Lyme First Selectman Ralph F. Eno, Jr. Ralph F. Eno, Jr.
Madison First Selectman Joan Walker Thomas Banisch
Marlborough First Selectman Amy J. Traversa Catherine D. Gaudinski
Meriden Mayor Kevin M. Scarpati Manny Santos
Middlebury First Selectman Michael J. McCormack Edward B. St. John
Middlefield First Selectman Peter T. Neidhart Edward P. Bailey Robert K. Johnson (PC)
Middletown Mayor Daniel T. Drew Sandra Russo-Driska Daniel T. Drew (WF)
Milford Mayor Benjamin Blake Paula Smith Paula Smith (MIP)
Monroe First Selectman Dan Hunsberger Steve Vavrek
Montville Mayor Ron McDaniel Tom McNally
Morris First Selectman Barbara E. Bongiolatti Tom Weik
Naugatuck Mayor N. Warren “Pete” Hess Tamath K. Rossi
New Britain Mayor John H. McNamara Erin E. Stewart Alfred P. Mayo (PC) John H. McNamara (WF)
New Canaan First Selectman No Endorsement Robert E. Mallozzi, III Michael J. Nowacki (PC)
New Fairfield First Selectman Theda Lambert Susan Chapman
New Hartford First Selectman Mike Companik Daniel V. Jerram John M. Burdick (NHU)
New Haven Mayor Toni J.N. Harp No Endorsement Ronald Smith (PC) Sundiata C. Keitazulu (PC)
New London Mayor Michael Ernest Passero Raymond Vogel
Newington Mayor Christopher Banach Roy Zartarian
New Milford Mayor David Gronbach Patricia Murphy
Newtown First Selectman No Endorsement E. Patricia Llodra
Norfolk First Selectman Susan M. Dyer No Endorsement Matthew T. Riiska (PC)
North Canaan First Selectman Susan J. Clayton Douglas E. Humes, Jr.
North Haven First Selectman John Joseph Bimonte Michael J. Freda
North Stonington First Selectman No Endorsement Shawn P. Murphy Robert L. Testa (PC)
Norwalk Mayor Harry W. Rilling Kelly L. Straniti Harry W. Rilling (WF)
Old Lyme First Selectman Bonnie Reemsnyder Catherine Carter
Old Saybrook First Selectman J. Colin Heffernan Carl P. Fortuna, Jr.
Orange First Selectman Ken Lenz James M. Zeoli
Oxford First Selectman Kathy Johnson George R. Temple
Plainfield First Selectman Paul E. Sweet No Endorsement
Plymouth Mayor No Endorsement David V. Merchant William A. Heering (PC)
Pomfret First Selectman Maureen Nicholson Craig Baldwin
Portland First Selectman Susan S. Bransfield Daniel P. Colby Lambros Lambrinides (AI)
Preston First Selectman No Endorsement Robert M. Congdon
Prospect Mayor Theresa Cocchiola Graveline Robert J. Chatfield
Putnam Mayor Anthony P. Falzarano No Endorsement
Redding First Selectman Julia Pemberton Eric Witt
Ridgefield First Selectman Rudolph P. Marconi No Endorsement Rudolph P. Marconi (I)
Rocky Hill Mayor Claudia Baio Henry Vasel
Salem First Selectman Kevin Lyden Ed Chmielewski
Salisbury First Selectman Curtis Rand No Endorsement
Scotland First Selectman Daniel D. Syme Daniel D. Syme
Seymour First Selectman Zani Imetovski W. Kurt Miller
Sharon First Selectman No Endorsement Brent M. Colley
Shelton Mayor Michele B. Bialek Mark A. Lauretti
Sherman First Selectman Donald Lowe Clay Cope
Simsbury First Selectman Lisa Heavner Philip Purciello Robert H. Kalechman (PC) Joan Coe (PC)
Somers First Selectman Timothy R. Potrikus Lisa Pellegrini Linda Louise LaCasse (PC)
Southbury First Selectman Ed Edelson Jeff Manville
Sprague First Selectman Catherine A. Osten Dennison Allen
Stafford First Selectman Tony Frassinelli Richard L. Shuck, Jr. Tony Frassinelli (OP)
Stonington First Selectman George A. Crouse, Jr. Rob Simmons
Suffield First Selectman Melissa Mack Edward G. McAnaney
Thomaston First Selectman William N. Gloade Edmond V. Mone
Thompson First Selectman Kenneth L. Beausoleil Stephen L. Herbert Sr.
Trumbull First Selectman Vicki Tesoro Timothy M. Herbst
Vernon Mayor Teri-Lynn Rogers Dan Champagne
Voluntown First Selectman Robert Sirpenski No Endorsement
Wallingford Mayor No Endorsement William Dickinson Donald Robert Kennedy (PC)
Warren First Selectman No Endorsement Craig B. Nelson
Washington First Selectman No Endorsement Mark Lyon Deborah L. Forese (PC)
Waterbury Mayor Neil M. O’Leary Jose L. Morales Lawrence V. DePillo (I) Jimmie L. Griffin (PC)
Waterford First Selectman Peter W. Davis Daniel M. Steward
Westbrook First Selectman No Endorsement Noel Bishop
West Haven Mayor Edward M. O’Brien No Endorsement
Weston First Selectman Gayle Weinstein Nina Daniel
Willington First Selectman No Endorsement No Endorsement Christina Beebe Mailhos (ASP)
Wilton First Selectman Deborah McFadden Lynne Vanderslice
Windsor Locks First Selectman J. Christopher Kervick Denise T. Balboni
Wolcott Mayor No Endorsement No Endorsement Thomas G. Dunn (PC) Steven R. Olmstead (PC)
Woodbury First Selectman No Endorsement Barbara K. Perkinson William J. Butterly, Jr. (PC) Sean Murphy (PC)
Woodstock First Selectman No Endorsement Allan D. Walker, Jr.
* designates incumbent (AI)= American Independent Party (ASP) =A Sentinel Party (CFP) = Clinton First Party (CIP) = Colchester Independent Party (I) = Independent Party (IBV) = Independent Branford Voters Party (KC) = Killingworth Conservative (MIP) = Milford Independent Party (NHU) = New Hartford United Party (OP) = Open Party (RB) = Realistic Balance Party Party (TBL) = The Bottom Line Party (TNM) = The New Movement Party (TP) Trolley Party (WF) = Working Families Party (WTP) = We The People Party ( PC)= Petitioning Candidate
( rwic) = registered write-in candidate
Secretary of the State’s Office
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Mark PazniokasCapitol Bureau Chief

Mark is the Capitol Bureau Chief and a co-founder of CT Mirror. He is a frequent contributor to WNPR, a former state politics writer for The Hartford Courant and Journal Inquirer, and contributor for The New York Times.

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