The magic of absentee ballots miraculously overturning an in-person election was on full display in Bridgeport, CT, on election day. But this is not just another “miraculous” come-from-behind win by a Democrat in the wee hours of the morning. Not just another case of just enough votes being found in the drop box and PO Box to squeak out another victory from the jaws of defeat. Nor is it another reminder that the quaint notion of showing up at the polls on election day, while adorable, isn’t what pushes candidates across the finish line in the after-hours counting.
The winner of Tuesday’s election in the largest city in Connecticut is incumbent Democrat Joe Ganim, who seems to have found 175 more absentee ballots than his opponent and former assistant John Gomes. It was just enough to overturn Gomes’s win in the in-person voting. But in this case, the voters may actually get another bite at the rotten apple that is Bridgeport politics, a redo of sorts.
The courts found last week that egregious drop box cheating may have given Ganim the win in the Democrat primary, so they have ordered a new primary. But the court couldn’t order a new general election. It seems city surveillance videos caught some purported Ganim supporters shoveling handfuls of ballots into drop boxes before the primary. “The videos are shocking to the court and should be shocking to all of the parties,” Superior Court Judge William Clark wrote. “These instances do not appear to the court to be random.” Ya think?
Bridgeport has a reputation as the slowest vote counter in state-wide elections, and in a close race always manages to push the Democrats over the finish line. In a tight race a few years ago, the city supposedly ran out of ballots on election day, so an obliging judge ordered polls to remain open for two hours after the rest of the state had finished voting as bags of new ballots were transported to the polls. Ahem.
Democrat leaders for years have said vote theft in Bridgeport is a “myth” and demanded that Republicans “show us the evidence of fraud.” Of course, there is never any fraud when a Democrat beats a Republican. Nada. Clean as a whistle. As Mark Twain wrote about the “Park City” in “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court,” “‘Bridgeport?’ said I. ‘Camelot,’ said he.”
Alas, when two Democrats fight it out, that’s another story. Then evidence of fraud abounds, and one is reminded of the saying falsely attributed to one of Bridgeport’s former mayors, Phineas Taylor Barnum, aka P.T. Barnum, “There’s a sucker born every minute.” But even Barnum’s original quote, “Many people are gullible, and we can expect this to continue,” makes the point.
Several people have been implicated in the investigation, and two members of the Democrat Town Committee have already taken the Fifth. However, all the judge needed to draw his own conclusions was the classic sports reporter phrase, “Let’s go the videotape!” There, you can watch classic ballot harvesting corruption, illegal in Connecticut, on display.
The state Supreme Court hid behind its judicial robes and refused to intervene after the ruling to postpone the Nov. 7 election. As it stands now, the lower court ruling still stands, and the Democrat primary will now be held AFTER the general election. Go figure.
This means that the Democrat nominee who got prime post position on the election day ballot will now have to win the Democrat primary to validate his right to have won the Nov. 7 election. Only in Bridgeport could the winner of the general election lose office in a party primary after the general election.
Ganim was elected in 2015, following a 7-year prison term for graft charges from his first stint as mayor. Ganim has apologized for what he did, and voters seemed to have forgiven him, but his popularity appears to be now fading.
According to unofficial results from the Connecticut Secretary of State’s website, Ganim won with only 41.28 percent of the vote to Gomes’s 39.99 percent. Two other candidates won the other 18.74 percent of the vote. Perhaps if Bridgeport had adopted ranked-choice voting, the huge spoiler vote might not have tilted the election, and one candidate would have merited a majority of support from Bridgeport voters.
As it stands, statewide voter turnout was only about 33 percent. Who knows what actually would happen if only half that percentage showed up to vote in a Democrat post-election primary?
Has Ganim been humbled by his narrow victory? You be the judge. After his win, he said, “Gomes and his crew have been beaten twice. In sports terms, they are two-time losers. Withdraw these claims. They have now lost their legitimacy. Respect the voters of the city of Bridgeport, and let us get on to do the progress and the work that we were elected to go by every day.”
What is that old Chicago saw about the politician telling his whining opponent, “Shut up, we stole this election fair and square”?
As mayor, Ganim can have the city appeal the judge’s decision to hold a new primary because of voter fraud. If that court ruling is overturned, his victory in November, no matter how many voters are told not to believe their own lying eyes, would stand, and corrupt elections in Bridgeport would be free to continue unfettered on their merry way.
As of now, no date has been set for a new primary.