HARTFORD-- The Hartford Democratic Town Committee held a meeting Monday night to pick the party's nominee for mayor.
However, before the voting began, incumbent Mayor Pedro Segarra announced he was not seeking the party's nomination, despite his ongoing campaign for reelection. The current mayor called the nominations process "corrupt," and said he would prefer to take his campaign directly to the streets and appeal to voters.
Segarra's opponent, Luke Bronin, secured the nomination after Segarra's announcement. A nominee needed 40 votes of the committee's 78 members to win the nomination, and Bronin received 49.
"From the very beginning I've been talking about the need for a mayor who takes responsibility and who holds himself accountable, " said Bronin. "What we saw tonight was a mayor who walked away when he knew that the didn't have the votes and to me that says it all."
Many of Segarra's supporters abstained from voting after he announced he wouldn't accept the nomination, while others walked out of the convention with the mayor. Segarra needs to gather 1,700 to qualify for the primary on September 16.
Mayor Segarra's camp released a statement on his shocking move just minutes after the announcement:
There comes a moment in one’s life when you must stand up for what is right and walk away from what is wrong. Tonight was one of those moments.
I chose not to accept the nomination of the Democratic Town Committee because I am in this race for the people of Hartford and not the politics.
I will not stand by and let outsiders try to buy their way into office and take control of our city.
It would be an abomination for us to let political influence determine the character of Hartford that would be represented by someone who has never held political office or advocated on behalf of the City of Hartford.
Tonight we say: let the people decide and not a few political insiders trying to stack the deck in their favor.
Too much is at stake to hand over the reigns to an outsider who has absolutely no experience to be Mayor and no real relationship with the people here.
Our campaign and the great people of Hartford will do everything to insure the people’s victory on Sept. 16.
This election has always been about the people of Hartford. Tonight, I walk with them.
Earlier in the day there was no sign that Segarra would back out of the nomination race. After the nation's largest property services union threw its support behind Segarra for reelection, he said he hoped the momentum would carry on into the night.
"If he gets the endorsement, it shows his connection with the inside machinery," said Segarra of his opponent, Luke Bronin. "It doesn't show his connection with the people of Hartford. I'm the one that has that connection."
Meanwhile, Bronin said, "Nothing counts until the votes are counted. I don't take anything for granted. I think we're in a strong position."
He also responded to Segarra's claims that if he received the nomination, it would be based on his political connections. "The Democratic Town Committee is 78 members that are elected, and represent communities all over the city," said Bronin.
Segarra also called Bronin an outsider, saying that he was the obvious choice for Hartford voters. "I think that the people of Hartford have made it very clear that they want someone with strong connections to the city that they don't want an outsider to be the person that leads the city," he said.
However, Bronin disputed his outsider status, saying, "I've thought of Hartford as home for the better part of ten years. I'm never going to be able to say that I grew up here, but this is where my wife and I chose to make our home, this is where we chose to raise our family."