- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 29, 2015

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch withdrew from the city’s mayoral race on Tuesday and threw his support to Democratic one-time opponent Mary-Jane Foster in an effort to ultimately defeat former Mayor Joe Ganim in November.

A two-term incumbent, Finch lost the recent, three-way Democratic primary to Ganim, who served seven years in prison for government corruption. Finch then faced challenges trying to secure a place on the November ballot, ending that effort on Tuesday by officially joining forces with Foster in a downtown office building.

“We must all do our part to ensure Bridgeport’s progress continues and is shared by all. That’s why today I’m announcing I’m stepping out of this race for mayor,” said Finch, adding how Foster’s leadership would provide peace of mind to businesses wanting to invest in the state’s largest city.

“There’s two roads that we can go down in this city. One is the wrong road and one is the right road with Mary Jane,” he said, praising Foster as a businesswoman, mother and advocate for children and victims of domestic violence. Finch promised he and his supporters will be “wearing out our shoes and writing checks” for Foster.

While Foster came in third in the Democratic primary, she had previously submitted enough signatures to secure a spot on the ballot as an unaffiliated candidate. Finch did not submit signatures to petition his way onto the ballot. He had hoped to run as a third party candidate, but that group missed an endorsement deadline.

Foster, the co-founder of the Bridgeport Bluefish minor league baseball team, acknowledged she and Finch have been at odds politically in the past. But she said the pair found common ground on issues such as education and public safety and decided to join forces because they want what’s best for Bridgeport, and that’s a city without Ganim at the helm once again.

“I don’t think you hire the bank robber to be your teller,” she said of Ganim.

Ganim shrugged off the remarks as negative campaigning and said history shows he has the advantage in the November election as the endorsed Democratic candidate in a mostly Democratic city. There are about a half dozen independent candidates and a Republican running as well.

“It’s about positive change in Bridgeport and that’s what the voters spoke about in the primary election,” he said.

By accepting Finch’s endorsement, Ganim contends Foster inherits Finch’s record on taxes and other matters. Yet Foster argues she remains an outsider candidate.

Earlier in the day, Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy declined to endorse a candidate in the race, saying he hadn’t made any decisions. He said: “At some point I may get more focused or I may not.”

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