Enrique “Rick” Torres sat at one of the long wood tables in his popular Harborview Market.
It was late afternoon and the store and eatery in the picturesque Black Rock neighborhood was mostly empty, but the smell of the breakfasts, lunches and coffee served earlier hung in the air.
As he discussed the amazing twists in Bridgeport’s mayoral race and their implications on his own candidacy, his gesticulations revealed the black power tattoo Torres, who is Cuban, got on his right forearm last year to “bind myself to the black struggle.”
He has power, alright — political power.
Passionate and peculiar, Torres has been thrust into a position rarely enjoyed by a member of Bridgeport’s Republican minority — he cannot be ignored.
The rift that ex-Mayor Joseph P. Ganim’s improbable comeback caused within the city’s Democratic party has political insiders debating two Torres-based scenarios.
One sees a path for the small businessman and City Council member to become the next chief executive of Connecticut’s largest municipality, even if Democrats outnumber Republicans 40,000 to 3,000.
“I think there is a series of numbers that can be added up resulting in a Rick Torres victory,” Torres said.
So, apparently, does the state GOP, whose new chairman, J.R. Romano, recently fired off an email urging the party faithful to open their wallets for Torres.
In an unusual move, Romano called out those who worried about the second scenario — that Torres is no winner, but a spoiler who, unless he drops out, will indirectly help Ganim win.
“Statewide, Republican and Democratic power brokers are scrambling to deny Bridgeport voters a real choice this November,” read Romano’s message.
But there is no doubt that some Bridgeport Republicans are concerned about the return of Ganim, who left office in disgrace in 2003 following his corruption conviction. Some are struggling over whether to back Torres or, perhaps, side with the anti-Ganim Democratic faction.
“I’ll vote for the candidate I most believe can beat Joe Ganim,” said one, who wished to remain anonymous. “I don’t know who, yet, is the problem. This is really unorthodox.”
Another Republican added they are worried about what Ganim’s re-election will mean….
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