BRIDGEPORT – Former Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim's 12-year run ended with a corruption scandal that sent him to prison for seven years. On Wednesday, Bridgeport voters made it clear they want him to get a second chance.
Officials at Ganim’s headquarters told Fox CT the Registrar of Voters informed them that their candidate had won the Democratic nomination for mayor by approximately 400 votes, including absentee ballots, of more than 12,100 cast in the state's largest city. Ganim said the key to this victory was Bill Finch’s ineptness.
“We're the highest taxed city in the country,” said Ganim. “The crime continues to spiral out of control in certain neighborhoods. There are schools that are underperforming and we need jobs.”
Ganim said while he is focused on the future, he has definitely learned from his past indiscretions, adding many residents recall that his time in City Hall was fruitful for the city.
“That was, even with the difficult days, the greatest period of economic prosperity the City of Bridgeport's seen in, I don't know, half a century,” said Ganim, who lost his law license when he was sent to prison. His request to restore it last year was denied by the state Supreme Court, which noted Ganim’s “failure to either explain or acknowledge any responsibility for his extensive criminal wrongdoing or to express remorse for that wrongdoing."
Wednesday, one of Finch’s volunteers repeatedly asked residents, walking into Dunbar School to vote, if they preferred “Production or corruption? Which one do you want? Vote line A.”
They voted instead for change.
"We started this journey together so many of us so many months so many months ago as only a dream inspired by the suffering in many ways and the disenchantment of so many people in the city of Bridgeport who wanted to only have a better quality of life," said Ganim to his supporters.
Among the big endorsements Ganim received was the city's police union.
Finch, however, refused to concede saying Wednesday night's numbers weren't official yet, but as of 10 p.m. there was an air of disappointment among the crowd.
The current Mayor appeared on stage in front of a full house and gave a rousing pep talk to supporter vowing not to give up the campaign which he said, he can still win. Finch had strong words for Ganim calling him "corrupt" and "a thief" in reference to his prison sentence.
"Republicans will want to stop the poster child for corruption in our state," said Finch Wednesday night. "It would be a disaster for this city, setting the city back eight years."
Finch will run as the Job Creation Party Candidate in the November general election.
"I have trust in the voters," said Finch.
Finch was endorsed by local and state Democratic leaders, including Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.
Sacred Heart University political science professor Gary Rose believes state Democrats will continue to support Finch due to concerns about the party's reputation.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.