Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim outside the federal courthouse in Hartford. Mark Pazniokas /
Under state law, this makes him a candidate. Twitter

There are many ways to become a candidate for governor under Connecticut law. One of them is to do what Bridgeport Mayor Joseph P. Ganim did Wednesday: Open a Twitter account under the name, “Joe Ganim for Governor.”

Ganim, who could not immediately be reached for comment, told News 12 he would file papers on Jan. 3 creating a candidate committee, but under state campaign finance laws he legally became a candidate the moment his Twitter account went live with the message: “I’m seeking your support for the office of Governor of Connecticut.”

Under state law, that is a “triggering event” ending his eight months as an exploratory candidate. His exploratory committee had raised $146,460 and had $88,602 in cash on hand as of Sept. 30, the close of the most recent campaign filing period. The current period ends on Dec. 31.

Because of his criminal record, Ganim is barred from participating in the state’s voluntary system of publicly financing campaigns. Ganim served seven years in a federal prison for a kickback scheme he led during his first stint as mayor, from 1991 until his forced resignation in 1993.

A federal judge recently dismissed Ganim’s challenge of the state law barring him from public financing, which provides $1.5 million to qualifying candidates for a major-party primary and $6.5 million for the general-election campaign of a major-party nominee.

He said then he probably would decide in January whether to go forward. A spokesman Wednesday confirmed Ganim’s intention to file papers next week and announce his candidacy.

Ganim, 58, made a political comeback in 2015, defeating Mayor Bill Finch in a Democratic primary and then winning election. He opened an exploratory committee in April.

He becomes the second Democratic mayor in the race to succeed Gov. Dannel  P. Malloy, following Middletown Mayor Dan Drew. A third, Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin, has an exploratory campaign.

Malloy is the first governor to be elected while participating in the voluntary program, defeating two wealthy, self-funding opponents in 2010: Ned Lamont in a Democratic primary, then Republican Tom Foley in the general election. Foley ran using public financing in 2014, when Malloy was re-elected.

All six constitutional statewide officers and the vast majority of members of the General Assembly were elected using public financing under the CEP, as the Citizens’ Election Program is known, which costs the state more than $30 million in a gubernatorial election year.

Ganim is likely to be the only Democratic candidate not participating in the program. Oz Griebel, a business leader who announced his candidacy as a petitioning candidate for governor last week, said he will not participate, as is expected to be the case for at least two Republicans.

Update: The Twitter account went inactive Thursday, with his campaign calling it unauthorized and the likely work of “an enthusiastic supporter.” An authorized one, @JoeGanim2018, went live, and a Ganim spokeswoman said the mayor will formally kick off his campaign for governor next week.

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.

Leave a comment