Mary-Jane Foster is back in the running for mayor after a Superior Court judge Friday overturned the rejection of her slate for the primary, the latest twist in what has been a tumultuous Democratic primary campaign. In a 34-page decision, Judge Barbara Bellis threw out Foster’s candidates for the Board of Education based on the state’s takeover of the city’s school system.
The judge then ordered that the Sept. 13 Democratic primary be postponed to Sept. 27 so that Foster can restart her campaign against Mayor Bill Finch.
Bellis found that the interplay of state and city statutes that Democratic Registrar of Voters Santa Ayala had relied on to deny Foster a ballot spot was confusing and ambiguous and that the Foster campaign had made every reasonable effort to follow the law.
Moments after the ruling, Foster emerged from the Main Street courthouse to be cheered by more than 50 supporters chanting her name.
“This is our American government at its very best,” she said. “This is a victory for Bridgeport, for all who have been disenfranchised by this mayor. I’m looking forward to all of you being with me shoulder to shoulder and we are going to take back this city because Bridgeport deserves better.”
Finch said he was pleased with the judge’s decision.
“As I have said from the beginning, I want an election,” he said. “I have been getting a very positive response from the public and I feel confident that we will succeed in this primary election. I look forward to the opportunity to do so. I’ve worked hard for the residents of the city of Bridgeport in the past four years to stabilize city finances, revitalize our downtown, increase access to the waterfront and make the city a better place to live. I am proud of my record of accomplishments, and I believe the voters will validate my vision.”
The ruling appears to have transformed the political landscape. Finch goes from facing a Republican and an independent in a general election where Democrats enjoy an enormous registration advantage to being contested in a primary by an aggressive opponent.