BRIDGEPORT (AP) - Joe Ganim made a stunning return to politics in 2015, when he was elected mayor of Connecticut’s largest city after serving seven years in prison for corruption during his first tenure as Bridgeport’s leader.
Now the Democrat is knocking on doors and greeting people in cars and on the streets in Bridgeport and other cities, hoping to pull off another improbable and even bigger victory - becoming Connecticut’s next governor.
Coming just shy of winning enough delegate support at the recent Democratic state convention to secure a spot automatically in the Aug. 14 primary, Ganim says he has nearly reached the goal of collecting signatures from roughly 15,500 registered Democrats to petition his way onto the ballot.
He’s delivering a message of liberal populism to urban voters, many of whom appear unconcerned by Ganim’s prison record and view him as someone who cares about them.
“We see it as someone coming up from being held to the bottom,” said Bridgeport resident Louis Lacend as he signed one of Ganim’s petitions last week. “He’s doing the best he can and people see that.”
Ganim, who was first mayor from 1991 to 2003, was sent to prison for steering city contracts in exchange for hundreds of thousands of dollars in expensive wine, custom clothes, cash and home improvements. He was released in 2010.
Nevertheless, the 58-year-old former inmate thinks his personality and message resonate with many voters.