BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — There’s a controversy brewing in Bridgeport surrounding the mayoral primary. Mayor Joe Ganim appears to have won. But his challenger, John Gomes, claimed the election was stolen.
“Not only will my voice speak that very clearly, but the voice of every voter that supported me and those who were turned away,” said Gomes.
“Whether it’s Gomes or Trump, you hear that kind of stuff. I’m sure they certified the results today. If he has issues with them, I’m sure there’s a process he can take a look at, but it’s a little bit of sour grapes at this point. We’ve seen this movie before. Disgruntled losers frankly,” responded Ganim.
Just 250 votes separates Joe Ganim from John Gomes. Gomes was in the lead, until late at night when the absentee ballot tallies were added.
“We’ve seen people taking absentee ballots, which we have evidence were actually being filled out for other people,” claimed Gomes. “We have complaints that we will be mounting toward the state for them to look at.”
Gomes has vowed to fight on to November.
“I will be running on November 7. I’ll be on the independent line,” said Gomes.
FOX61 sat down with Gomes at his campaign headquarters in Bridgeport. He is accusing the Ganim campaign of illegally soliciting absentee ballot applications.
“At the end of the night, our numbers were almost 500 votes ahead, and if you look at the total applications that were mailed out, we were concerned about that from the beginning. We communicated that with the Secretary of State. We said 4,000 absentee ballot applications are in the streets. That’s unheard of,” remarked Gomes.
Specifically, Gomes accuses the Ganim campaign of targeting seniors and low-income voters and working with public housing managers to deny them access to elderly and affordable living complexes. FOX61 took the accusation to Ganim.
“I don’t really follow some of the nonsense that comes out from different press releases in the political cycle," he said.
He goes on to say that seniors are one of his strongest bases of support.
“We had a huge turnout with seniors. Many of them did and do mail in. I’ve always had not only a soft place in my heart for our seniors along with youth but they’ve been a strong base of support for anyone who wants to be successful in political office. They’ve been near and dear to me and my strongest supporters," said Gomes.
State Sen. Marilyn Moore knows a little something about Bridgeport politics. She faced Ganim in 2019. She won the tally on the in-person ballot machines but lost on the absentee count.
“It’s history repeating itself and DeJaVu,” said Moore.
A criminal investigation is still pending into three of Ganim’s aides related to that race.
“They know that there are people who have broken the law or who are suspected of breaking the law with ballots. It’s posted that there is going to be a criminal investigation but they are so bold they continue to do it,” said Moore.
Moore said Bridgeport’s dubious history of election irregularities is contributing to voter apathy and low turnout at the polls.
“Why bother to go? People see it as a rigged system. So you’ve disenfranchised the voter,” said Moore.
Ganim told FOX61 he’s turning his focus to November.
“I’ll be out, which I enjoy doing. Walking and knocking on doors at public events and staying connected in the neighborhoods," said Ganim.
But he also lobbed his own claim that someone aligned with the Gomes campaign was involved in unauthorized campaign activity.
“It appears she’s unauthorized in a voters apartment. A senior who I am told may have a handicap or dementia, going into there rummaging and looking for something,” said Ganim.
Gomes told FOX61 he hasn’t decided yet if he will file a lawsuit challenging the results of the September primary.
The Secretary of the State’s office noted that the vote count relies on manual entry into the system from the registrars. No voting machines or databases are connected to the internet. They also noted no vote is official until it’s certified by the city clerk. The Bridgeport primary race, while close, isn’t close enough to trigger an automatic recount.
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