BRIDGEPORT – On Wednesday November 1, Superior Court Judge William Clark ordered a new mayoral primary for Bridgeport. The new primary will presumably happen sometime in December. The decision by Clark comes after mayoral candidate, John Gomes’ attorney Bill Bloss presented video evidence showing several political operatives connected to Mayor Joe Ganim’s campaign allegedly stuffing absentee ballots into drop boxes located around the city. In his ruling, Clark said, “The videos are shocking to the court and should be shocking to all parties…” He further writes:
“The court finds the plaintiff (John Gomes) has met its burden of proof and established violations in the placing of absentee ballots into drop boxes by partisans who were not designated to handle such ballots and that the volume of ballots so mishandled is such that it calls the result of the primary election in serious doubt and leaves the court unable to determine the legitimate result of the primary.”
Wednesday’s ruling comes as good news for Bridgeport voters who have been subjected to absentee ballot abuse and fraud for decades with no relief. It’s been an open secret in Bridgeport that the Democratic Party led by chairman Mario Testa and Mayor Joe Ganim rely on political operatives like the parties vice-chair, Wanda Geter-Pataky and others to manipulate election results through the absentee voting process. Geter-Pataky and former council woman and current city council candidate Eneida Martinez for their part in this year’s election scandal pled the 5th on the stand rather than answer questions about their activity.
So, what does Judge Clark’s groundbreaking ruling mean for Bridgeporters as we head to the polls on Tuesday, Nov. 7th? The short answer is we are not exactly sure. Judge Clark left the details about how the process for a new primary will work pretty vague in his ruling.
Below, we take a stab at answering some of the most pressing questions Bridgeport voters have been asking. Keep in mind that more clarification from the Judge is likely forthcoming as the court and the city moves through this unprecedented set of circumstances.
- What happens now that the Judge ordered a new primary? Judge Clark ordered all parties involved; the defendants (lawyers for the city of Bridgeport and Secretary of the State), and the plaintiff (John Gomes and his lawyer) to work out a plan and date for the new election. They have 10 days to complete the task. The public can expect to know the date of the new primary by November 10.
- Why isn’t Tuesday’s General election being cancelled? The Ct Supreme Court confirmed in the 2019 Bridgeport absentee ballot case Lazar v. Ganim that no one, not even the Judge or the Secretary of the State can change an election date once it’s on the calendar. So the Nov 7 general election must go on like normal. All of the candidates that previously qualified to be on the general election ballot are on the ballot. Those candidates represent multiple offices – Mayor, Town Clerk, City Clerk, City Council, Board of Education and Sheriff. Ballots for this election are already printed and Bridgeport voters have already started voting using absentee ballots.
- Will Tuesday’s election count? Yes and no. The only race affected by this court case is the mayor’s election. We think that because the Judge ordered a new primary, only the votes cast for mayor on November 7th will be invalid – so they won’t count.* However the elections for all other positions i.e. Town Clerk, City Clerk, City Council, Board of Education and Sheriff will count.
- Because the Judge ordered Bridgeport to hold a new primary will Senator Marilyn Moore and Lamond Daniels have an opportunity to re-qualify for the primary election? Our guess is no. There was no evidence presented in the case that indicated that there was a problem with the petitioning process.
- If there’s a new primary election and John Gomes wins, does that mean there will be a new general election too? Yes. We anticipate that if John Gomes wins the new primary election, a new general election will happen in January 2024. He will then be the official Democratic Party candidate. Joe Ganim will loose his spot on the general election ballot as the top Democrat.
- We read that the SEEC has opened an investigation into whether Mayor Joe Ganim actually lives in Bridgeport. If they conclude that his main domicile – where he lays his head every night – is not in Bridgeport therefor he was never qualified to be mayor in the first place, will he still be allowed to run for mayor? It’s not likely that the SEEC will complete that investigation before the new primary and general election so his residency will have no bearing on this new election.
- Why haven’t people been arrested? Didn’t Mayor Joe Ganim’s campaign get caught in 2019 for absentee ballot abuse, manipulation and fraud when Marilyn Moore ran against him? Bridgeport voters are still waiting to hear about the status of possible criminal investigations by Connecticut’s Chief State’s Attorney office stemming from the 2019 mayoral election. We do know that three people connected to Mayor Joe Ganim’s 2019 campaign including Wanda Geter-Pataky and Councilman, Alfredo Castillo were recommended by the state elections enforcement committee (SEEC) for criminal investigations.
This post was updated from a previous version published on Nov 1, 2023. When/if more information becomes available we will update the content accordingly. Interested in reading the Judges ruling for yourself you can do it here.
*Bill Bloss, attorney for John Gomes has offered several possible scenarios about what could happen as a result of Tuesday’s election for mayor, indicating he believes the votes for mayor will count. But until we get clarification from the court, we’re just not sure. Judge Clark ordered a new primary, period. He did not offer “what ifs” about Tuesday’s results. Check out this CT Post article for more details.