Ernie Newton, a politician who should know a thing or two about the legal system since he has spent the last decade in and out of prison, has a theory as to why incumbent mayor Bill Finch lost the recent primary in Bridgeport. According to Newton, it’s really pretty simple: Finch spent more time talking about ex-mayor Joe Ganim’s time behind bars than Finch’s own accomplishments as mayor. Ordinarily, that might be enough to sway the voters, but as Newton pointed out—in Bridgeport everyone knows somebody who’s been in jail. It’s no big deal.
It’s an exaggeration of course, but there’s some truth to it. Beyond that, most people in jail claim innocence, as do their families and friends, It’s not a big leap for them to think that Ganim might have been railroaded also, though the preponderance of evidence is overwhelming—he belonged in jail. But in Bridgeport and in most big cities, who usually goes to jail? The poor minorities of course who can’t afford a shrewd lawyer to get them off. Not too many young white males occupy prison cells for minor drug transgressions and trivial infractions; but don’t worry, all those cells in this prison-riddled country are being filled with their poor/minority counterparts.
Joe Ganim’s hardcore supporters claim that he did a great deal to resurrect Bridgeport in the early part of this century; unfortunately he apparently used dishonest means and he never failed to feather his own nest. Bill Finch seems to have continued to move the city forward—legally—and probably deserved the chance to continue. I don’t know—I don’t live in Bridgeport. It is ironic though, that candidates are always urged run on the issues but seldom do, Bill Finch could have done so and won. Instead, he’s scrambling just to get on the ballot.
I doubt if this will slow down attack campaigns, but it is something to consider.