Fallout from the contested Democratic primary vote for Bridgeport mayor has taken another turn, as Secretary of the State Denise Merrill has called for an investigation into the vote and another write-in candidate has emerged for the November election.
Merrill has responded to accusations of voter fraud by state Sen. Marilyn Moore, who was defeated in the Sept. 10 Democratic mayoral primary, by asking the State Elections Enforcement Commission (SEEC) to investigate the matter.
Moore defeated incumbent Mayor Joe Ganim 4,721 to 4,337, but an absentee ballot tally of 967 to 313 pushed the sitting mayor to a 5,304 to 5,034 victory. Moore has questioned the validity of such an overwhelming 654 absentee-vote margin.
“Although my office does not have authority to investigate allegations, we stand ready to assist SEEC in any way we can,” Merrill said in a written statement. “I intend to use the full authority granted to my office to ensure that free and fair elections are held in Bridgeport, and across Connecticut, on Nov. 5th.”
Last week, Moore announced she was launching a write-in bid for the election. Ganim has said he welcomes the investigation into the primary.
Meanwhile, independent consultant Jeff Kohut announced over the weekend his own plans to run as a write-in candidate. Kohut’s announcement did not include a direct reference to Ganim, Moore or Moore’s charges, instead calling on voters to stop “sitting on our assets” and work together to “triple our tax-base and create tens of thousands of living-wage jobs – and set about choosing and implementing the specific plans to do so within a 5- to 10-year window.”
Kohut also ran for Bridgeport mayor in 2011, when he was defeated by incumbent Democrat Bill Finch. Finch lost the 2015 Democratic primary to Ganim.