Divided Democrats Head for Primary, Republicans Unite Behind McCauley
July 25 - August 1, 2007
By ANDY HART, The Hartford News Staff Writer
Last Thursday’s Democratic Con¬vention came off pretty much as predicted. But how the next chapter – the Democratic Primary – plays out is anybody’s guess.
And the issue will probably remain in doubt until the general election in November as the Republicans are fielding a full slate of sixcouncil candidates as well as their strongest candidate for mayor in recent years, Stan McCauley.
The Republicans are aiming to recapture all three council seats reserved for minority parties. The three seats are currently occupied by Elizabeth Horton Sheff and Robert Painter, both of whom are not running this year, and Veronica Airey Wilson, who is seeking re-election.
But the Republicans will have to battle the Working Families Pary (WFP) for those seats. The WFP is expected to nominate three candidates for City Council after a meeting next week. One candidate, Luis Cotto, co-owner of the popular La Paloma Saberna Cafe on Capitol Avenue, has already announced that he is seeking the WFP’s endorsement.
Mayor Eddie Perez secured the Democratic endorsement at Thursday’s convention as did the five incumbent council candidates (Calixto Torres, James Boucher, Ken Kennedy, rJo Winch and Pedro Segarra). The sixth council candidate to win the party’s endorsement was newcomer Matt Ritter, son of former State Repre¬sentative Tom Ritter.
City Treasurer Kathleen Palm was also nominated for re-election by unanimous acclamation.
The Republicans held their Convention last Wednesday night at Hartford City Hall. McCauley, who has turned in impressive performances at recent debates between mayoral candidates, was nominated unanimously. The GOP’s six council candidates are Airey-Wilson, former Board of Education member Michael Lupo, Gerald Pleasent, Kevin Carroll, John Lupo Jr. and former Councilman Michael McGarry.
This is the first time the Repub¬licans have nominated a full slate of candidates in many years, but McCauley said, “To run anything less would not show our committment to victory in November. We are in this to win, we are in this for Hartford.”
Heading for a Primary
The Democratic Primary will be held on September 11. Candidates who were not nominated at the convention must collect ap¬proximately 1,400 signatures to petition their way onto the primary ballot.
At least one of the Democratic challengers, Paul Mozzicato, said he is enjoying the arduous process of collecting signatures. “It’s a great opportunity to meet people. I’m talking to so many people I’ve never known before...I think the petitioning process is something all the candidates should go through, challengers and endorsed alike. Maybe they [the endorsed candidates] shouldn’t have to get as many signatures, but it’s still good to get out there and hear what people think about how things are going in the city,” he said.
Although Mozzicato failed to win the endorsement, he did get 18 votes at the convention, the highest total among the unendorsed council candidates. Thompson Page got 15 votes while Beatice Roman, Andrea Comer, Eric Crawford, David Morin and Maria Diaz got 14 votes each. All seven are expected to run in the primary if they can collect enough signatures.
The convention’s roll-call vote for mayor was anti-climatic, despite some spirited exchanges between supporters of Perez and backers of State Representative Minnie Gon¬zalez. Gonzalez received 14 votes, mainly from her own Third District, while Perez pulled 43 votes. But Gonzalez’s political ally, Ramon Arroyo, said “This isn’t the end, this is the beginning. The real battle starts now.” Eight delegates cast their ballots for Frank Barrows, who is also staying in the race. Former Deputy Mayor I. Charles Mathews and State Representive Art Feltman did not submit their names for nomination but both have said they will continue their campaigns until the primary and possibly beyond
Earlier in the week, Mathews had said that Perez was virtually guaranteed to win the nomination since so many Town Committee members are either employed by the City or have contracts with it.
This fact was brought up at the Convention by another former Deputy Mayor, Nick Carbone.
Before any voting took place, Carbone said that Town Committee members who are employed by the City or have contracts with the City should not be allowed to vote at the Convention as it would constitute a conflict of interest.
Carbone said he had reviewed a list of the 70 Town Committee members and had found that nine were employed by the City, three worked for the Hartford School System (Perez is President of the Hartford Board of Education) and six had contracts with the City.
Carbone told Democratic Town Committee Chairman Noel McGregor that these 18 people should not be allowed to vote. McGregor referred the matter to Michael Collins, who was serving as Parlimentarian at the convention. Collins said the State Ethics Commission would have to issue a ruling on the matter and that if Carbone had a list, he should file it with them.
“I have a list and I will file that list with them,” said Carbone.
Feltman did not attend the Convention and, instead, held a rally across the street. About 50 people attended Feltman’s “Un-Convention,” in¬clu¬¬ding former City Council members John O’Connell and Eugenio Caro.
In his speech at the “Un-Convention,” Feltman said, “Because of the charade across the street [at the Democratic Conven¬tion] where people represent nothing beyond self-interest – we have to collect petitions to get on ballot to give Hartford voters a choice. Otherwise, Perez wins by default.”
MAYOR Eddie Perez (I) 43
Minnie Gonzalez 14
Frank Barrows 8
CITY TREASURER Kathleen Palm (I) 68
CITY COUNCIL Kenneth Kennedy (I) 55
Matthew Ritter 52
Pedro Segarra (I) 47
James Boucher(I) 46
Calixto Torres (I) 45
rJo Winch (I) 45
Paul Mozzicato 18
Thompson Page 15
Beatrice Roman 14
Andrea Comer 14
Eric Crawford 14
David Morin 14
Maria Diaz 14