- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 28, 2015

July 28—HARTFORD — Democrats on Monday endorsed mayoral candidate Luke Bronin, a lawyer and relative newcomer to Hartford, forcing incumbent Pedro Segarra to put his hopes for re-election on a September primary.

Before voting opened, Segarra, who had been nominated on the floor, stood before the town committee and hundreds of spectators and declined the nomination. He then walked out of the auditorium at Bulkeley High School with dozens of supporters trailing behind.

Segarra said he was taking the fight to the streets. He will have to collect about 1,700 signatures to qualify for a primary Sept. 16.

After Segarra left, Bronin won the party’s endorsement with 49 votes and said he was honored to get it.

Bronin said the race was not about “what somebody looks like” or “where they were born.” He said the city needs change.

Of Segarra’s early departure, Bronin said he wasn’t anticipating it because as recently as a week ago Segarra expressed confidence that he would win the nomination. Bronin said it was clear to everyone that Segarra didn’t have the votes to be nominated.

“What we saw today was a mayor who walked away,” he said.

After declining the nomination, Segarra said: “I am a resident of this city for 41 years. The majority of the people of this city are happy with my leadership. I will take this to the people. It is the people of this city who will decide this election. It is the people of Hartford who will decide who the next mayor will be.”

Segarra backers waved signs and repeated chants of “four more years” in the school parking lot as Segarra headed for his car.

“This is a decision and we respect this decision,” said Rep. Minnie Gonzalez, a town committee member and longtime Segarra backer. “This fight, we’re going to finish in the streets. This fight is ours.”

Juan Roman, another Segarra supporter, praised the mayor’s plan to leave the convention early.

“He did what he had to do at the moment,” Roman said. “Now he’s got the whole city on his side. He’s going to win.”

But Steve Harris, a town committee member and Bronin backer, said “it’s time for a change.”

“It’s time for someone who knows the concept of leadership and leading,” he said.

Support for Bronin grew in recent weeks as two other Democratic candidates, lawyer John Gale and former probate Judge Robert Killian Jr., left the race and backed Bronin. He also received endorsements from community leaders and political figures, including Hartford Rep. Angel Arce.

Segarra has also received a slew of endorsements. Gonzalez and Rep. Edwin Vargas announced they were backing Segarra, as did Service Employees International Union 32BJ.

Bronin, a lawyer for Hinckley Allen, has never held elected office but was a top aide to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and was deputy assistant secretary for terrorist financing and financial crimes at the U.S. Department of the Treasury. He lived in the city from 2006 to 2009, then returned in 2013.

Segarra has criticized Bronin’s comparatively short history with the city. The mayor has lived in Hartford for 41 years.

At city debates and other appearances, Segarra has pointed to what he called his track record of success, saying that economic development has grown and schools have improved under his leadership. He also said he lifted the city’s mood after its former mayor, Eddie Perez, was convicted of corruption charges. An appellate court has overturned Perez’s convictions and his case is before the state Supreme Court.

Despite the recent surge of shootings and homicides, Segarra has noted that crime decreased in other years that he has been in office. He said he wants another four years in office to build on his accomplishments.

Bronin has criticized the mayor for being slow to react to problems, including the recent wave of violent crime. He has pledged to restore accountability to city hall and use his connections with state and federal officials to foster greater cooperation and generate more opportunities for the city.

Cloud Endorsed

Democrats on Monday endorsed incumbent Adam Cloud for treasurer. Tax collector Marc Nelson was also nominated, but did not receive enough votes.

Cloud said he was “humbled and honored” to continue to serve as treasurer. “I will not let you down,” he said.

He received 50 votes among the 78 town committee members.

Cloud garnered strong support from the town committee despite a subpoena issued recently seeking records of campaign contributions to him during the past two municipal elections. Federal regulators have not said what they are investigating.

Cloud has said he did nothing wrong and was surprised by the subpoena.

Nelson said Monday that he would collect signatures to force a primary.

“There were no surprises. It was business as usual,” he said of the convention. “I think the town committee made it clear that treasurer Cloud is their choice to lead Hartford through these financial challenges. Now we will see what the voters of Hartford think.”

Council Candidates Endorsed

Democrats announced shortly after midnight that they had endorsed John Gale, Gwendolyn Thames, Julio Concepcion, James Sanchez, Thomas J. Clarke & rJo Winch for city council.

Gale was running for mayor until recently. He dropped out of the race nearly two weeks ago and said he would instead pursue a seat on the council.

None of the endorsed candidates are incumbents. Winch served previously as a council member and as council president, but is not currently on the council.


(c)2015 The Hartford Courant (Hartford, Conn.)

Visit The Hartford Courant (Hartford, Conn.) at www.courant.com

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