WASHINGTON (AP) — Connecticut voters throughout the state will elect mayors in Tuesday’s off-year general election, with one notable race taking place in the shadow of a complicated legal drama.
A state judge on Wednesday ordered a redo of the Sept. 12 Democratic primary in Bridgeport, the state’s largest city. In that contest, incumbent Mayor Joe Ganim defeated challenger John Gomes by 251 votes out of 8,173 cast. The Gomes campaign later sued the city, demanding a new primary after obtaining evidence of possible illegal ballot box stuffing days before the original primary. The date for the new primary has not been set, but the general election on Tuesday will proceed as planned.
The candidates in Tuesday’s mayoral election in Bridgeport are Ganim; Gomes, who filed to run as an independent after losing the primary; Republican David Herz; and independent Lamond Daniels. The Associated Press will tabulate vote results of the Tuesday election but will not declare a winner until the legal challenges have been resolved.
Ganim is seeking an eighth term as mayor. He previously served from 1991 to 2003 before spending seven years in federal prison for corruption and extortion charges stemming from his time in office. Voters returned him to the job in 2015 and 2019. Gomes served in Ganim’s second administration as the city’s acting chief administrative officer until he was demoted in 2016 and later as an assistant chief administrative officer until his termination in July 2022. Gomes has suggested publicly that his ouster was in retaliation for being rumored as a possible mayoral hopeful. Ganim previously faced a primary challenge in his reelection bid in 2019, when he narrowly defeated state Sen. Marilyn Moore by 270 votes. That result was also challenged in the courts, but a judge ultimately upheld the victory.
In the town of Derby, located about 10 miles (16 kilometers) west of New Haven, incumbent Mayor Richard Dziekan is running as an independent for a fourth term after losing the Republican primary to alderman Gino DiGiovanni Jr., who was charged by federal prosecutors in August with illegally entering the U.S. Capitol during the riot on Jan. 6, 2021. DiGiovanni, who was elected alderman 10 months after the attack, has acknowledged being at the Capitol that day but has denied any wrongdoing.
The Democratic nominee is former alderman Joe DiMartino. In 2021, Dziekan narrowly won reelection over DiMartino by a 48-vote margin. Republican Donald Trump outperformed Democrat Hillary Clinton in Derby in 2016 — 52% to 45% — despite losing statewide by almost 14 percentage points. Joe Biden won back Derby for Democrats in the 2020 general election with 51% of the vote.
Other notable mayoral races will be held in Hartford and New Haven. Bridgeport, Hartford and New Haven are Democratic strongholds. Biden carried all three cities in the 2020 presidential election with vote margins of at least 60 percentage points.
Here’s a look at what to expect on election night:
Connecticut’s municipal general elections will be held Tuesday. Polls close statewide at 8 p.m. ET.
WHAT’S ON THE BALLOT
The Associated Press will provide coverage for four mayoral races in Bridgeport, Derby, Hartford and New Haven.
WHO GETS TO VOTE
Voters must be registered in a town holding an election to vote in that town’s contests on Tuesday. The deadline to register before Election Day was Thursday, but voters may also register in person on Election Day.
Although the AP will not declare a winner in Bridgeport until all legal challenges are resolved, it will tabulate the votes there as they are reported by election officials. The AP will declare winners of the mayoral elections in Derby, Hartford and New Haven.
Off-year municipal elections tend to be relatively low-turnout events. In a competitive contest, particularly in small to midsize towns, the margin between the first- and second-place candidates may be a relatively small number of votes. This may slow the race-calling process as a handful of absentee, provisional or other untallied ballots could play a decisive role in determining the result.
The AP does not make projections and will declare a winner only when it’s determined there is no scenario that would allow the trailing candidates to close the gap. If a race has not been called, the AP will continue to cover any newsworthy developments, such as candidate concessions or declarations of victory. In doing so, the AP will make clear that it has not yet declared a winner and explain why.
Connecticut law requires an automatic recount if the margin is less than 0.5% of the total votes cast or fewer than 20 votes but not more than 1,000 votes. The AP may declare a winner in a race that is eligible for a recount if it can determine the lead is too large for a recount or legal challenge to change the outcome.
WHAT DO TURNOUT AND ADVANCE VOTE LOOK LIKE
In the November 2022 general election, there were nearly 2.5 million voters registered in Connecticut. Of those, 36% were Democrats, 20% were Republicans and 42% were not affiliated with any party.
In the 2019 general election, voter turnout was at 21% in Bridgeport, 40% in Derby, 15% in Hartford and 20% in New Haven.
As of Thursday, a total of 1,108 voters had cast ballots before Election Day in Bridgeport, 92% from Democrats and 3% from Republicans. In Derby, it was 177 votes already cast, 52% from Democrats and 19% from Republicans. In New Haven, 372 ballots have already been cast, 78% from Democrats and 8% from Republicans. No advance vote data is available for Hartford.
In 2021, 17.6% of the Bridgeport vote was cast before Election Day, 22.2% in Derby, 4.8% in Hartford and 6.6% in New Haven. In 2019, the pre-Election Day vote was at 7% in Bridgeport, 6% in Derby, 10% in Hartford and 5% in New Haven.
HOW LONG DOES VOTE-COUNTING USUALLY TAKE?
In the Sep. 12 primary in Bridgeport, the AP first reported results at 8:12 p.m. ET. The election night tabulation ended at 12:28 a.m., with more than 99% of the votes counted. In Derby, there were only two vote updates in the September primary. First votes were reported at 8:59 p.m. ET, and the final update came four minutes later, with 100% of the votes counted at 9:03 p.m.
In Hartford, first votes were reported at 8:06 p.m. ET, and the election night tabulation ended at 12:13 a.m. with 98% of votes counted. In New Haven, first votes were reported at 8:02 p.m. ET, and the election night tabulation ended at 10:33 p.m. with 73% of votes counted. New Haven had counted all but one vote by noon the next day.