Justin Elicker may have provided the upset in New Haven, but Bridgeport’s Democratic challenger Marilyn Moore left the biggest questions on Connecticut’s primary night.
Moore, a state senator, came closer to incumbent mayor Joe Ganim than almost anyone had predicted, finishing with an unofficial tally of 5,021 to Ganim’s 5,269.
Moore won the count at the voting machines. It was only with the aid of absentee ballots that controversial two-time mayor Ganim was able to hold on to his spot on the November general election ballot.
“There’s going to be people sitting back, talking about we lost," Moore said. "But we didn’t lose, because the people who voted at the machines -- those people, we won. And we have to know that this is just the first step in showing people what’s possible.”
So will Moore be on the November ballot to challenge Ganim once again?
She’s said that’s her intention, but Tuesday night it was revealed that she has not collected enough signatures to petition onto the ballot.
“She needed 207 qualified signatures minimum, and according to both the Secretary of the State and the town clerk here in Bridgeport her campaign had only collected 168,” Hearst Connecticut reporter Brian Lockhart told Connecticut Public Radio.
Moore disputes the report that her campaign turned in just 14 pages of signatures. She said Tuesday night it was far more, and she has a receipt to prove it. The problem? She can’t find that receipt.
“We know we had at least 100 sheets. Everybody’s tearing the office apart, looking for the envelope with the receipt in it,” she said. “I am going to go through that office and find that receipt, and I’m going to go home to make sure I didn’t take it to my house.”
If that avenue is closed, Moore also briefly floated the idea of running on another existing line, by persuading a candidate to step down. But the party she’s targeting, the New Movement party, also appears to have failed to get onto the ballot.
“I think it’s going to raise broader questions about the rules of the game,” said Khalilah Brown Dean, professor of political science at Quinnipiac University, speaking on Connecticut Public Radio’s The Wheelhouse. “I don’t think that Ganim should take this as a mandate at all.”
Lockhart meanwhile said the options for Moore are dwindling.
“That basically leaves the very long shot of being a write-in candidate,” he said. “It’s not impossible, but it’s a huge uphill battle. Or potentially some sort of legal challenge, maybe a legal challenge about Ganim’s absentee ballot win. Maybe some sort of a legal challenge against the town clerk and the petition process.”
Moore for her part said she’ll take at least a little time to consider her strategy for November, but her determination was clear.
“A lot of people gave blood, sweat, tears, money - because they believe in Bridgeport,” said Moore to her supporters Tuesday night. “And I want you to continue to believe in Bridgeport, because we know this is not the city that it could be. And we know you cannot get it all in one day. But as I told you when I ran, I’m going to get on that ballot in November.”