Mayor Luke Bronin of Hartford will be facing six Democrat mayoralty opponents, nearly all of whom insist that the bonds of affection that tie former Governor Dannel Malloy’s chief counsel to the city of Hartford are not, shall we say, fierce.
The lede in a Hartford Courant story ominously titled “Luke Bronin has again promised to serve a full four years as Hartford mayor. Will voters believe him this time?” pretty much sums up the general discontent: “Mayor Luke Bronin said this week it’s his intention, if re-elected, to spend all four years in office, and to support Gov. Ned Lamont in his own potential bid for a second term. But the familiar pledge, given during an interview with The Courant, carries less weight than it did four years ago when the 38-year-old, then a candidate heading into the mayoral primary, made what turned out to be an empty promise.”
Bronin had promised to serve a full four year term as mayor. After he had been elected, Bronin announced his bid for governor. Like a worm penetrating an apple, doubt began to course in the brains of future Democrat mayoralty opponents.
Author, ghostwriter and mayoralty hopeful Aaron Lewis is quoted in the story: “In a city that was really going through some tremendous difficulties — economic difficulties, our education system was at an all-time low, we were going through a lot of stuff — there were a lot of people who believed he was going to bring us proverbially to the Promised Land. But he didn’t take that seriously. I think his actions have proven more about what his heart is saying more than anything else. Actions speak louder than words, and his actions really proved to us what he thinks about the city.”
Democrat primary opponent Brandon McGee said, “We all have to remember Hartford is full of people whose deficits and determinants have been used to advance personal agendas. That’s been happening for a long while. The people may not remember all the details of what happened, but I’m sure they’ll definitely remember how it felt to have somebody try to bail out after selling them a campaign full of promises.”
J. Stan McCauley, another challenger, has said that Bronin, “grossly underestimated the gift he was given.” Influential supporters had showered Bronin with support and, more importantly, with political contributions. They were left at the altar by the deceitful mayor. He pointed to attorney John Gale, who had raised more than $100,000 for his own mayoral campaign before dropping out to back Bronin.
“For (Bronin) to run for governor in light of that sacrifice was just a slap in the face, because he said he would never do anything like that," McCauley is quoted in the Courant story. “It’s not just a political move, it’s an insult to the sacrifice those people made.”
Speaking of insults, former Hartford mayor Eddie Perez, who is running for his old seat after having been dispossessed in a corruption scandal, wondered whether Bronin, if re-elected, would be able to resist certain political temptations: If Democrats were to seize the White House in 2020, and if one of Connecticut’s two most prominent national Democrat political stars, U.S. Senators Dick Blumenthal or Chris Murphy, were to accept a proffered position within the new Democrat national administration, would Bronin’s ambitions flair up again? “Ambition is not a bad thing, but in Bronin’s case,” cautioned Perez, “ambition is causing serious harm. As soon as he gets sworn in, depending what happens nationally, he’s gonna be thinking about his next potential office nationally, and that’s problematic.”
While politics is the art of the possible, not everything is possible in politics. There is little doubt that suffering cities will continue to be the private political preserve of Democrat politicians for some time to come. The last Republican mayor of Hartford was Ann Uccello way back in 1971, nearly four decades past. Ambition overtook the first female mayor of a state capitol and she moved upwards to the U.S. Department of Transportation. Uccello was preceded by no fewer than eight Democrat mayors.
On the plus side, Bronin wangled half a billion dollars from his former boss Malloy, which prevented Hartford from declaring bankruptcy. And he has no felony record, as do two prominent Democrat politicians in Corrupticut now serving in office, Mayor of Bridgeport Joe Ganim and former state senator Ernie Newton, a Bridgeport city councilman.
Bronin’s defense against his likely primary opponents is spare and simple. He announced his bid for governor at a time when current Governor Ned Lamont had not yet thrown his hat in the ring; since becoming mayor, he has worked tirelessly on behalf of Harford residents; and, as an attorney considerably more cautious than Ganim, he is unlikely to stumble into prison. Also – need it be mentioned? – Bronin has curried favor with the current governor by withdrawing his candidacy soon after Lamont had raised his gubernatorial campaign flag. And please don’t forget that half-billion bailout Bronin was able to procure from Malloy. In city politics, it’s still who you know that counts.