AP Politics

AP Decision Notes: What to expect in Bridgeport’s do-over mayoral election

WASHINGTON (AP) — If it’s Tuesday, there must be a mayoral election in Bridgeport.

For the fourth time in five months, Democrat Joe Ganim, the incumbent mayor of Connecticut’s largest city, will face challenger John Gomes at the ballot box in his quest for an eighth term. Joining them once again will be Republican nominee David Herz.

Ganim and Gomes first competed in the Democratic primary in September, but a judge threw out those results and ordered a new primary and general election after evidence surfaced that Ganim supporters had stuffed multiple absentee ballots into outdoor ballot collection boxes. Ganim said these supporters broke the law but denied any knowledge or involvement in the scheme.

The originally scheduled general election was still held in November, but the judge’s order for new elections rendered the results meaningless. Ganim narrowly edged Gomes in the September primary as well as the November general election, where Gomes ran as an independent. Herz placed a distant fourth.

Ganim also prevailed over Gomes in last month’s do-over primary, this time by a more comfortable 13-point margin. Since then, Ganim has won the endorsements of two former rivals: Gov. Ned Lamont, who handily defeated him in the 2018 Democratic gubernatorial primary, and Lamond Daniels, a Democrat who ran as an independent last November.

Ganim first served as mayor from 1991 to 2003 before spending seven years in federal prison for corruption and extortion charges stemming from his time in City Hall. Voters returned him to office 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 considering his own run for mayor.

The mayor previously faced a primary challenge in his 2019 reelection bid, 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.

Bridgeport is a Democratic stronghold. President Joe Biden carried the city in 2020 with 79% of the vote.

Here’s a look at what to expect on election night:

ELECTION DAY

The do-over general election for mayor of Bridgeport, Connecticut, will be held on Tuesday. Polls close at 8 p.m. ET.

WHAT’S ON THE BALLOT

The Associated Press will provide coverage for the Bridgeport mayoral general election. The candidates are Ganim, Gomes and Herz.

WHO GETS TO VOTE

Any voter registered in Bridgeport may participate in the mayoral general election.

DECISION NOTES

Generally speaking, turnout for special elections tends to trail that of regular elections.

Turnout for regularly scheduled mayoral elections in Bridgeport is already relatively modest, with about 17% of registered voters participating in the November general election. As with any low-turnout election, a competitive race could hinge on just a handful of votes, which could slow down the race-calling process.

Ganim edged Gomes by just 251 votes in the September primary and by 179 votes in the November general election. In the three contests between Ganim and Gomes held since September, the total number of votes cast ranged from about 8,000 to about 13,000 votes.

In past races, Bridgeport has first released the results of votes cast on Election Day, followed by the results of mail-in ballots at the end of the night.

In the original primary and general election, Gomes was the vote leader among votes cast on Election Day, but Ganim pulled ahead once the absentee votes were counted.

The AP did not call a winner for the November general, since the new primary had already been ordered by that point.

Ganim’s margin was much larger in last month’s do-over primary, but since both the original primary and the general election were extremely competitive and absentee votes were at the center of this drama, it’s possible that there won’t be a race call in the do-over general election until the absentee ballots are taken into account.

The AP does not make projections and will declare a winner only when it’s determined there is no scenario that would allow a trailing candidate 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

As of Oct. 31, there were slightly more than 81,000 registered voters in Bridgeport, about 60% of them Democrats, 7% Republicans and 32% not registered with any party.



Turnout for the November 2023 Bridgeport mayoral general election was about 17% of registered voters. About 13% of all ballots were cast before Election Day. In the 2019 general election, turnout was about 21% of registered voters. About 7% of the votes cast were pre-Election Day ballots.

As of Thursday, nearly 1,500 pre-Election Day ballots had been cast, 94% from Democrats and just under 2% from Republicans.

HOW LONG DOES VOTE-COUNTING USUALLY TAKE?

In the Jan. 23 re-do mayoral primary, the AP first reported results at 8:08 p.m. ET. The election night tabulation ended at about 11:42 p.m. ET with all of the total votes counted.

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