Changing of the Guard

 
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Hartford Mayor-elect Luke Bronin (left) and current Mayor Pedro Segarra.

Yesterday, Hartford selected its new mayor. To be precise, it was primary day, and the Democratic Party selected its candidate. But in this Democrat-dominated Northeastern city, the winner of the primary is almost certain to win the general election in November.

The dynamic of the race was reminiscent of the that on the TV show “The Wire.” The incumbent mayor, Pedro Segarra, is a classic interest-group politician. Incompetent and dogged by reports of corruption and favor-peddling, his candidacy rested on his appeal as a true representative of the people of Hartford. He was also not above a direct appeal to ethnic and racial politics. “No one has shown me that Pedro is such a terrible candidate as to warrant that the Latino community lose its only chief elected official in the state of Connecticut,” said surrogate Edwin Vargas, a state representative.

Mayor Segarra’s challenger, Luke Bronin, is a white good-government technocrat. A friend of Governor Dannel Malloy, he has worked in the US Treasury department and served on an anti-corruption task force in Afghanistan as an officer in the Navy Reserves, and most recently served as Malloy’s general counsel. But he has never before held elective office. His candidacy rested less on his record than on the fact that he has friends in high places; some 35% of the state capital’s households (comprising 50% of its children) have income below the poverty line — the worst record of any large city in Connecticut — and those with jobs work predominantly in state or city government. The ability to bring in state money is seen by many as the key to the city’s finances.

The state and city party apparatus, frustrated by Segarra’s incompetence, threw its support behind Bronin. Segarra, meanwhile, backed by most of the city’s unions, characterized Bronin as an interloper. Bronin grew up in Greenwich, on Connecticut’s “gold coast” outside New York City, and attended Yale. He moved to the city only in 2013, and sends his children to expensive private schools in the next town over rather than the city’s dysfunctional public schools. Segarra openly questioned Bronin’s ability to relate to the city’s residents, about 40% of whom are African-American, 45% of whom are Latino, and (as noted above) are overwhelmingly poor. It is plausible to consider that as much as Bronin wants to use his talents to help the city, he also might be treating Hartford’s mayoralty as a stepping-stone to higher office.

In the end, Bronin had a decisive fundraising advantage. He took in $834,000 vs. Segarra’s $369,000, and blitzed the airwaves with a half-million-dollar ad campaign in the final weeks. The election split along racial lines. The city’s predominantly Latino South End went for Segarra; the predominantly African-American North End went for Bronin. Bronin pulled out a victory, 55% to 45%. Segarra has not ruled out an independent bid in November, but such a bid would be a longshot.

Either way, the next mayor will have his hands full. Police just reported the city’s 25th murder of 2015, making Hartford the murder capital of New England. (In contrast, there were 23 murders in Boston so far this year, and 9 in Hartford in 2014.) Businesses are fleeing, office towers sit empty, and residential buildings advertise vacancy. In many ways, Hartford’s problems resemble those of other Democrat-dominated US cities. And as in those other cities, neither of the choices on offer is sufficient. Neither liberal interest-group shakedown socialism nor liberal good-government state-boondoggle socialism will arrest the city’s decline.

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  1. Mate De Inactive
    Mate De
    @MateDe

    SOS, Do you see this as a positive change? He is a friend of Malloy.

    I would like to leave Connecticut but my husband is happy here, but I see bad times until we get a new Governor and legislature. GE is threatening to leave the state and other businesses are leaving, because Malloy and the democrats raised corporate taxes AGAIN in this state. This is not California with great weather to sweeten the pot in living here. One more bad winter and you’ll see more folks pulling up stakes and getting out of dodge.

    • #1
  2. Austin Murrey Inactive
    Austin Murrey
    @AustinMurrey

    Son of Spengler: here were 23 murders in Boston so far this year,

    23 in Boston in 2015?! What’s the BPD doing and how do you export that?

    • #2
  3. Son of Spengler Contributor
    Son of Spengler
    @SonofSpengler

    Mate De: SOS, Do you see this as a positive change? He is a friend of Malloy.

    I suppose, but I don’t think it really moves the needle.

    As the state has become less friendly to free enterprise, it has lost population — but not uniformly. The cities are representing a bigger and bigger share of the state. So the statehouse is filled with Democratic grievance politicians, who have no sense of responsibility or reality. They are happy to just give GE the finger as it leaves the state, and blame “the rich” when things get worse.

    As a result, even smart & sensible Democrats, like Malloy & Bronin, are in a shrinking minority. They can’t make sensible changes (state pension reform, etc.). And the GOP’s base is disappearing. (Of course, it doesn’t help when you nominate losers with a track record.) The bottom line, as I see it, is that the state is on a spiral toward bankruptcy; and its cities are leading the way.

    • #3
  4. Mate De Inactive
    Mate De
    @MateDe

    Son of Spengler:

    The bottom line, as I see it, is that the state is on a spiral toward bankruptcy; and its cities are leading the way.

    Great, Maybe Joe Scarborough will save us. HA

    • #4
  5. Tuck Inactive
    Tuck
    @Tuck

    Son of Spengler: And the GOP’s base is disappearing. (Of course, it doesn’t help when you nominate losers with a track record.)

    The GOP are pikers in that regard, too…

    “Former Bridgeport Mayor, Out of Prison, Declares Victory in Primary”

    Gotta love the Times and their blinders:

    “Former Mayor Joseph P. Ganim, five years after completing a prison sentence for corruption, declared victory in this city’s Democratic primary on Wednesday night, taking another step in a comeback bid to reclaim the mayor’s office.”

    They fail to mention in the entire article that it was Ganim’s corruption during his previous stint as mayor that landed him in prison.

    Who needs organized crime when you have the Democrats?

    • #5
  6. HeartofAmerica Inactive
    HeartofAmerica
    @HeartofAmerica

    My company is closing one of our distributions centers located in CT and consolidating all of the business back in the Midwest. That plant had been there over 30 years. I can guarantee you that the cost of doing business in CT is much higher and more complicated than here.

    • #6
  7. Bigfoot Coolidge
    Bigfoot
    @Bigfoot

    Son of Spengler: As a result, even smart & sensible Democrats, like Malloy & Bronin, are in a shrinking minority. They can’t make sensible changes (state pension reform, etc.). And the GOP’s base is disappearing.

    That is an exceptionally generous characterization of both Malloy and Bronin

    • #7
  8. Mark Thatcher
    Mark
    @GumbyMark

    We saw in the last legislative session the first move of the Democrats on a new tactic to keep the state afloat – regional government.  I expect we will see this renewed with added vigor as the situation gets more desperate.  It’ll be sold as creating efficiencies for strapped smaller local governments but the real goal is to siphon as much money as possible from the suburbs to Hartford, New Haven and Bridgeport while minimizing the ability of folks in smaller communities to object.

    I find the efficiency argument amusing since it was the Democrats who abolished county government more than 50 years ago on grounds of improving efficiency.

    • #8
  9. Son of Spengler Contributor
    Son of Spengler
    @SonofSpengler

    The city is now up to 26 homicides for the year.

    • #9
  10. Son of Spengler Contributor
    Son of Spengler
    @SonofSpengler

    Bigfoot:

    Son of Spengler: As a result, even smart & sensible Democrats, like Malloy & Bronin, are in a shrinking minority. They can’t make sensible changes (state pension reform, etc.). And the GOP’s base is disappearing.

    That is an exceptionally generous characterization of both Malloy and Bronin

    Probably. The local Democrats I know describe them as reasonable, though. This leads me to think they are similar to the Canadian liberals who, when faced with the reality of the finances, made necessary reforms. But in Connecticut, these technocratic Democrats are totally ineffective, because they are sandwiched between a GOP that will (rightly) not settle for half-measures and an unrealistic loony left coalition that has taken over their party.

    • #10
  11. Mate De Inactive
    Mate De
    @MateDe

    Son of Spengler:

    Bigfoot:

    Son of Spengler: As a result, even smart & sensible Democrats, like Malloy & Bronin, are in a shrinking minority. They can’t make sensible changes (state pension reform, etc.). And the GOP’s base is disappearing.

    That is an exceptionally generous characterization of both Malloy and Bronin

    Probably. The local Democrats I know describe them as reasonable, though. This leads me to think they are similar to the Canadian liberals who, when faced with the reality of the finances, made necessary reforms. But in Connecticut, these technocratic Democrats are totally ineffective, because they are sandwiched between a GOP that will (rightly) not settle for half-measures and an unrealistic loony left coalition that has taken over their party.

    Malloy is corrupt. He brought a lot of businesses to Stamford by buying them off, using tax payer money to build a company a new building and offset their taxes for 10 or 15 years. He did that for UBS. UBS was great for Stamford but now their tax holiday is up and they are downsizing the looking for someplace else to move. That’s a lot of jobs and the city is trying to figure out what to do to keep them here. This state is a mess and I don’t see anything changing in the forseeable future.

    • #11
  12. Tuck Inactive
    Tuck
    @Tuck

    HA HA HA: “Gov. Dannel P. Malloy declined Thursday to offer an endorsement for any of the three Democratic candidates for Bridgeport mayor.”

    • #12
  13. Tuck Inactive
    Tuck
    @Tuck

    Mate De: Malloy is corrupt. He brought a lot of businesses to Stamford by buying them off, using tax payer money to build a company a new building and offset their taxes for 10 or 15 years.

    You know, I could live with corrupt if it was corrupt, smart, and efficient, in the old Tammany Hall model.

    Malloy is corrupt and stupid.  He brought companies like UBS to Stamford by lowering their tax burden, and because CT was a lower-tax state than NY.

    Now he’s in Hartford busily raising our taxes, and he seems to never have considered that companies will want to move out of the state.

    One wonders if his handlers have to remind him to breathe.

    UBS is also being crushed by Dodd-Frank.  Apparently all the foreign banks operating in the US are looking to reduce operations and/or get out.

    Chris Dodd: another corrupt Connecticut politician.  Although he’s smart enough to have enriched himself, constituents be damned.

    • #13
  14. Mate De Inactive
    Mate De
    @MateDe

    Tuck:

    Mate De: Malloy is corrupt. He brought a lot of businesses to Stamford by buying them off, using tax payer money to build a company a new building and offset their taxes for 10 or 15 years.

    You know, I could live with corrupt if it was corrupt, smart, and efficient, in the old Tammany Hall model.

    Malloy is corrupt and stupid.

    No argument here. I was pretty shocked he go reelected, although I guess I shouldn’t have been as the Republican party in the state are morons. They were been given the gift of Malloy and democrats passing the biggest tax increase in decades, including the gas tax when gas prices were through the roof and we decide to run the guy who LOST to Malloy the last time. Who does that?

    • #14
  15. Tuck Inactive
    Tuck
    @Tuck

    Mate De:

     and we decide to run the guy who LOST to Malloy the last time. Who does that?

    A blue state where all the smart Republicans have moved out.  I’d move out if my job wasn’t keeping me here for the time being.

    • #15
  16. Mark Thatcher
    Mark
    @GumbyMark

    Tuck:
    UBS is also being crushed by Dodd-Frank. Apparently all the foreign banks operating in the US are looking to reduce operations and/or get out.

    Chris Dodd: another corrupt Connecticut politician. Although he’s smart enough to have enriched himself, constituents be damned.

    Isn’t it interesting that Dodd (D-Countrywide Financial) and Frank (D-Fannie Mae) ended up with their names on the signature financial reform legislation.

    • #16
  17. Son of Spengler Contributor
    Son of Spengler
    @SonofSpengler

    Here’s an article on Bronin’s successful efforts in the North End: http://www.courant.com/news/connecticut/hc-hartford-luke-bronin-won-hartford-pedro-segarra-0920-20150920-story.html

    • #17
  18. Tuck Inactive
    Tuck
    @Tuck

    Joe Ganim’ had a landslide victory in Bridgeport, despite a federal corruption conviction.”

    So if you’re wondering what’s wrong with Bridgeport, it’s pretty clearly the voters.

    To the OP, Bronin won in Hartford, 7,084 to 1,722 for second place.  The Republican in the race got 408 votes.

    • #18

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