HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — An ex-convict who mounted a political comeback with his 2015 election as mayor of Connecticut's largest city filed paperwork Wednesday to run for the Democratic nomination for governor.
Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim was surrounded by media and staff as he turned in the documents at the State Elections Enforcement Commission office in Hartford. A short time later, he was a passenger in an SUV driven by a Bridgeport police detective that was pulled over for speeding.
Ganim, 58, served nearly seven years in prison after he was convicted of corruption for steering city contracts in exchange for private gifts during his first tenure of Bridgeport mayor, which ran from 1991 to until his resignation in 2003. He was released from prison in 2010 and stripped of his law license but was elected mayor again in 2015 after apologizing and asking residents for a second chance.
"I am far from a perfect candidate," Ganim said in statement Wednesday. "I'm someone who has made mistakes in my life."
He joins a crowded field of candidates looking to succeed Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, who is not seeking re-election.
A Hearst Connecticut Media reporter who was in Ganim's SUV reported it was doing 100 mph when state police pulled it over on Interstate 84 in Southington, but no ticket or warning was issued. Bridgeport Detective Ramon Garcia, who was providing security for Ganim, was driving.
A state police spokeswoman said a trooper clocked the vehicle doing 87 mph and used legal discretion in issuing a verbal warning.
When Ganim first became mayor, it was months after Bridgeport became the first major American city to file for bankruptcy protection. He was credited with reviving the city and became a rising star in the Democratic party.
Ganim raised money to run for governor in 2002 but acknowledged after his indictment in late 2001 that those prospects had dimmed. He has been barred from the public campaign financing program because of his felony convictions.
He was convicted of 16 federal corruption charges in 2003 and sentenced to nine years in prison. Prosecutors said he steered city contracts to his associates and their clients in exchange for more than $500,000 worth of bribes, kickbacks and other personal benefits.
Authorities said Ganim received cash, diamond earrings, designer clothing, expensive wine and improvements to his new home in the affluent Black Rock section of Bridgeport, a largely impoverished city.
Ganim said Wednesday that his successes in reviving Bridgeport, including attracting economic development and balancing the budget, would prepare him well for the governor's job. The state has been dealing with budget deficits, including an estimated $224 million shortfall in this year's $20 billion budget, and multibillion-dollar deficits have been forecasted for future years.
"When you get past the headlines and you get to the body of the story, I think it's about my experience of leading the state's largest city," Ganim said. "I'm excited about this. As you know, I'm not a guy who shies away from challenges or controversy. I will run, I will run hard."
A spokesman for the state Democratic Party said the party does not comment on candidates during the primary process.
J.R. Romano, chairman of the state Republican Party, said the Ganim candidacy speaks for itself.
"He stole out of greed and power," Romano said. "There are Democrats that are giving him money who believe we should make him one of the most powerful political figures in the state."
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