The incumbent mayor of Bridgeport, Connecticut has just won his Democrat primary election in a confusing battle tainted with allegations of voter fraud.
Democrat Mayor Joe Ganim has just declared victory in the mayoral race for the third time this election cycle.
Strong allegations of voter fraud leveled against Ganim’s campaign forced a judge to step in and order a primary election do-over, as Slay News reported.
The ruling meant that residents of Bridgeport, the state’s largest city, headed to the polls for the third time in four months to elect a mayor, even though Ganim had already won the general election.
The re-run of the primary took place on Tuesday.
With 99% of precincts reporting on Wednesday, Ganim defeated challenger John Gomes by about 1,000 votes, 4,948 to 3,901.
However, those numbers are not yet official.
This vote, held more than two months after the general election on November 7, was actually a primary election for the Democrat nominee for Bridgeport mayor.
And it was also the second primary election held this election cycle.
The first Democrat primary election was held on September 12.
In the original Democrat primary, challenge Gomes appeared on the cusp of unseating Ganim.
In the initial hours after returns came in, Gomes held a steady lead.
However, once absentee ballots were counted, Ganim edged out Gomes for the Democrat nomination by just 251 votes total.
Within days, the Gomes camp cried foul.
However, the campaign brought receipts and released damning surveillance video footage from City Hall.
As Slay News reported at the time, the video appeared to show Wanda Geter-Pataky, a city employee and a long-standing supporter of Mayor Ganim, stuffing ballot boxes with stacks of absentee ballots.
The evidence of voter fraud was so compelling that on October 25, about two weeks before the general election, Judge William Clark overturned the results of the primary election between Ganim and Gomes.
“The volume of ballots so mishandled is such that it calls the result of the primary election in serious doubt and leaves the court unable to determine the legitimate result of the primary,” Clark wrote in his decision.
The judge ordered lawyers for the two campaigns to coordinate with local officials to arrange another primary election.
Meanwhile, the general election went on as scheduled.
Ganim was listed as the Democrat nominee and Gomes was listed as an independent candidate.
Ganim won that election.
However, since Ganim’s position as the Democrat nominee was still in doubt, local authorities held yet another Democrat primary election this week.
Once again, Ganim prevailed.
“Obviously this isn’t my first time, but it is, again, humbling for me to know that thousands and thousands of voters, of people in the city of Bridgeport, trudged through the weather today, overcame voter fatigue, and made a strong statement of voting and voting for us to continue the progress in the city of Bridgeport,” he told a crowd of supporters.
“I want to celebrate this victory for our city.
“I want to celebrate this victory for our party and for everyone who remains committed to improving the quality of life for the people that we serve in this great city.”
A second general election had been tentatively scheduled for next month.
Nevertheless, Ganim’s latest victory may have made that election unnecessary.
As of early Wednesday morning, Gomes had not conceded the race or made any decisions regarding that additional general election, the AP reported.
“We have challenged the status quo and nothing will be the same,” Gomes said.
“What we’ve done is build an army that’s stronger than ever and we are coming.”
Mayor Ganim has a long and chequered history in Bridgeport politics.
The Democrat was first elected to city mayor more than 30 years ago in 1991, when he was in his early 30s.
However, 12 years later, Ganim resigned after he was convicted of several crimes related to political corruption.
He spent seven years behind bars, but after he was released, he ran for the mayoral office once again in 2015 — and won.
He then won re-election in 2019 and apparently once again in 2023.
Geter-Pataky and another member of the Ganim team, Eneida Martinez, may face criminal prosecution at some point in connection with the alleged fraud in the primary election last September.
That would hardly be a first for Geter-Pataky, however.
Geter-Pataky already likely faces criminal charges for alleged voter fraud in connection with the 2019 Bridgeport mayoral primary race.
Ganim just barely won the 2019 race after a significant absentee ballot dump late in the evening pushed him over the top.