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Brown declares victory in CT primary race for Bridgeport House seat

Connecticut Post logo Connecticut Post 10-08-2022 By Richard Chumney
City Councilman Marcus Brown greets voters outside of Blackham School in Bridgeport, Conn. Aug. 9, 2022. Brown challenged incumbent State Rep. Jack Hennessy in Tuesday’s Democratic primary for 127th house seat. © Provided by Connecticut Post

City Councilman Marcus Brown greets voters outside of Blackham School in Bridgeport, Conn. Aug. 9, 2022. Brown challenged incumbent State Rep. Jack Hennessy in Tuesday’s Democratic primary for 127th house seat.

BRIDGEPORT — City Councilman Marcus Brown declared victory over nine-term state Rep. Jack Hennessy in Tuesday’s Democratic primary just before 11 p.m., although no unofficial results were in from city registrars at that time.

State Rep. Jack Hennessy, of Bridgeport, greets voters outside of Winthrop School in Bridgeport, Conn. Aug. 9, 2022. Hennessy was challenged in Tuesday’s Democratic primary for the 127th State house seat by City Councilman Marcus Brown. © Provided by Connecticut Post

State Rep. Jack Hennessy, of Bridgeport, greets voters outside of Winthrop School in Bridgeport, Conn. Aug. 9, 2022. Hennessy was challenged in Tuesday’s Democratic primary for the 127th State house seat by City Councilman Marcus Brown.

Amid low turnout, Brown, 31, appeared to emerge victorious in the 127th House District party contest against Hennessy, 71, the Park City’s current longest serving state lawmaker. According to Brown’s camp, though, the difference was razor thin.

Brown said he felt “really humbled,” especially after his previous loss to state Sen. Marilyn Moore in a previous election, which he said “set the pace for today’s win.

“A chain is only as strong as its weakest link and tonight we eliminated that weakest link,” Brown said.

Hennessy could not be reached for comment.

Brown, a City Council leader who was backed by the town committee and key party leaders, sought to cast himself as a fresh face eager to find solutions to some of Bridgeport’s biggest challenges in the Connecticut General Assembly.

He celebrated his win Tuesday night at his home, with numerous city and state officials in attendance, including fiance Tom Gaudett, Mayor Joe Ganim, Democratic Town Committee Chairman Mario Testa, City Council President Aidee Nieves and state Reps. Steve Stafstrom, Chris Rosario and Antonio Felipe, among others.

State Rep. Jack Hennessy, of Bridgeport, greets voters outside of Winthrop School in Bridgeport, Conn. Aug. 9, 2022. Hennessy was challenged in Tuesday’s Democratic primary for the 127th State house seat by City Councilman Marcus Brown. © Provided by Connecticut Post

State Rep. Jack Hennessy, of Bridgeport, greets voters outside of Winthrop School in Bridgeport, Conn. Aug. 9, 2022. Hennessy was challenged in Tuesday’s Democratic primary for the 127th State house seat by City Councilman Marcus Brown.

Also in attendance was Rev. Herron Gaston, who beat state Sen. Dennis Bradley for the 23rd Senate District seat.

Testa said he was proud of what the party nominees had accomplished Tuesday.

“This is a reflection of next year’s election,” he said, indicating that if the non-party nominees would have won Tuesday it would have posed difficuilties for the town committee in next year’s mayoral and council elections.

State Rep. Jack Hennessy, of Bridgeport, greets voters outside of Winthrop School in Bridgeport, Conn. Aug. 9, 2022. Hennessy was challenged in Tuesday’s Democratic primary for the 127th State house seat by City Councilman Marcus Brown. © Provided by Connecticut Post

State Rep. Jack Hennessy, of Bridgeport, greets voters outside of Winthrop School in Bridgeport, Conn. Aug. 9, 2022. Hennessy was challenged in Tuesday’s Democratic primary for the 127th State house seat by City Councilman Marcus Brown.

The two-term council member is now all but guaranteed a seat in the state House. In Democratic-dominated Bridgeport, the primary often determines the outcome of November’s general election.

City Councilman Marcus Brown speaks with election moderator Chuck Hebert after Brown voted at Blackham School in Bridgeport, Conn. Aug. 9, 2022. Brown challenged incumbent State Rep. Jack Hennessy in Tuesday’s Democratic primary for 127th house seat. © Provided by Connecticut Post

City Councilman Marcus Brown speaks with election moderator Chuck Hebert after Brown voted at Blackham School in Bridgeport, Conn. Aug. 9, 2022. Brown challenged incumbent State Rep. Jack Hennessy in Tuesday’s Democratic primary for 127th house seat.

Through the race, Brown argued that the city deserves more state funding to cover growing education costs and to help pay for infrastructure projects. He also suggested Hennessy was ineffective as a legislator and should be replaced.

As proof of Hennessy’s ineffectiveness, Brown pointed to the decision by Speaker of the House Matt Ritter to strip Hennessy of his deputy speaker role and his seat on the Public Health Committee over his opposition to mandatory vaccinations for children.

The dispute helped convince Democratic delegates to endorse Brown over Hennessy in a local party meeting earlier this year, giving Brown’s upstart campaign a boost.

Brown, who has close ties to Mayor Joe Ganim’s administration, previously challenged state Sen. Marilyn Moore, but came up short in the contest. Like Tuesday’s race, he also had the party’s support in that primary.

City Councilman Marcus Brown greets voters outside of Blackham School in Bridgeport, Conn. Aug. 9, 2022. Brown challenged incumbent State Rep. Jack Hennessy in Tuesday’s Democratic primary for 127th house seat. © Provided by Connecticut Post

City Councilman Marcus Brown greets voters outside of Blackham School in Bridgeport, Conn. Aug. 9, 2022. Brown challenged incumbent State Rep. Jack Hennessy in Tuesday’s Democratic primary for 127th house seat.

Without a major office on the ballot, party leaders had anticipated low turnout Tuesday. Prior to Election Day, more than 400 people voted in the race by absentee ballot, according to data shared by local elections officials.

Fans were running and door were propped open in an attempt to keep things cool for primary elections in the gym at Blackham School, in Bridgeport, Conn. Aug. 9, 2022. © Provided by Connecticut Post

Fans were running and door were propped open in an attempt to keep things cool for primary elections in the gym at Blackham School, in Bridgeport, Conn. Aug. 9, 2022.

As voters traveled to the polls, the two candidates tried one last time to win supporters. In front of Blackham School, Brown shared his pitch with voters and used the ailing school building to convince them the local schools need more funding.

“I went to school at this very school right here,” he said, pointing at the nearly 60-year-old building. “I can tell you that it looked exactly like this when I went there.”

Hennessy spent much of the day greeting voters outside John Winthrop Elementary School, which also served as a polling place for the district. Before the results were announced, he said he anticipated low turnout, but expressed confidence in a victory.

Yvonne McIntosh checks voters in as they show up for primary elections in the gym at Winthrop School, in Bridgeport, Conn. Aug. 9, 2022. © Provided by Connecticut Post

Yvonne McIntosh checks voters in as they show up for primary elections in the gym at Winthrop School, in Bridgeport, Conn. Aug. 9, 2022.

“Primaries don't have super high turnout,” he said. “But at the end of the day, it's the campaign that has the best get out the vote operation that wins.”

richard.chumney@hearstmediact.com

Primary elections at Winthrop School, in Bridgeport, Conn. Aug. 9, 2022.

Primary elections at Winthrop School, in Bridgeport, Conn. Aug. 9, 2022.

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