November 25, 2015   |   Lou Colagiovanni
November 25, 2015
(ANTIMEDIA) Joseph P. Ganim shocked the political establishment after he was elected the next Mayor of Bridgeport, Connecticut. Why was his election so shocking? Because he was the mayor from 1991 to 2003—until he was convicted of 16 felonies, including racketeering, extortion, bribery, two counts of filing a false tax return, and eight counts of mail fraud. Ganim spent seven years of his life in federal prison as a result of the convictions.
Political pundits originally saw Ganim’s candidacy as a sideshow with no hope of electability, but the joke was on them. In September, Ganim defeated Bridgeport’s incumbent mayor, Bill Finch, by 400 votes during the Democratic primary.
Mary-Jane Foster, the Vice President of the University of Bridgeport, was Ganim’s closest opponent and lost the election by a landslide margin of almost 2 to 1. Imagine that—the voters prefered a convicted felon known for making backroom deals over an illustrious member of the community who has dedicated her life to education.
Foster was stunned by Ganim’s victory. “I couldn’t be more surprised. I expected that I would be elected the next mayor of Bridgeport. Voters were clearly willing to give Joe Ganim a second chance,” she commented.
Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy acknowledged Ganim’s triumph. “The voters have spoken, and I want to congratulate Joe Ganim on his victory. I am committed to moving Bridgeport forward, and, as I have said, I will continue to put the best interests of the community first,” he said.
Though unusual, a mayor being convicted of a felony does not automatically mean the candidate cannot win reelection. Marion S. Barry Jr., the former Mayor of Washington, D.C., was convicted of smoking crack cocaine in 1990 and sentenced to six months in prison. Barry’s arrest meant he could not run for reelection, but the voters brought him back to the mayoralty from 1995 to 1999.
In a showing of sheer political gamesmanship, Ganim was able to convince one of the FBI agents who originally arrested him in 2003 to endorse his campaign. Ganim was also endorsed by the local police union.
Ganim was gracious in victory. “We not only made history, we’ve defined a new course for this great city. Some will call this a comeback story, but for me, this is a city I feel I never left. I never stopped caring,” he said.
Time will tell if Ganim will go back to his old tricks, but for now, it seems the voters of Bridgeport prefer a man who admits to twisting arms over a more politically correct, docile candidate.
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