NORWALK, Conn. – Another of the politicians regarded as traitors by some members of the Norwalk Democratic Party is officially not running for re-election this November.
Councilman Michael Geake did not submit petitions to force a primary in District B, Democratic Registrar Stuart Wells said Wednesday. The deadline has passed.
Geake, who ran as a Democrat in November 2011, became unaffiliated and joined the Republican caucus about five months after winning election to represent District B on the Common Council. That emboldened Mayor Richard Moccia, Common Council Minority Leader David Watts (D-District A) said Wednesday.
“The whole trajectory of the city was changed,” Watts said. “… What he did was horrible.”
Geake was one of three Democratic council members to join the Republican caucus. Only one will be on the ballot this fall. Councilman Bruce Kimmel (D-District D) is running as a Republican-endorsed at-large candidate. Common Councilman Carvin Hilliard elected not to run for re-election, saying he is retired and wants to spend time in South Carolina.
Republican Town Committee Chairman Art Scialabba acknowledged that there are four Republican caucus members who are not returning: Hilliard, Geake, Councilman Fred Bondi and Councilman Nick Kydes.
“Everything is status quo until the election,” he said in an email. “Afterwards I would wish them well and thank them for their service.”
Geake said in June that he would be on the ballot this fall, but didn’t know which line he would be on. He was, at the time, leaving an RTC meeting, and said he had switched his party affiliation to Democrat so he could vote in September’s primary.
He subsequently promised to force a primary. But when Hilliard decided not to join him in that endeavor, Geake was out, District B Chairman Bobby Burgess said.
“That made it kind of difficult for him to run,” Burgess said.
Geake confirmed that Hilliard’s move was the reason he didn’t try to force a primary.
“When Carvin dropped out, I decided I didn’t want to be on a ticket with either of the two endorsed by the DTC,” he said in an email.
Watts said Geake had tried to get a Republican endorsement as a council candidate. Geake did not return an email asking him about that allegation. Scialabba declined to comment as well.
“I don’t think he was even trusted by them. He was just being used,” Watts said. “He was a freebie.”
It would have been foolish for Geake to try to run in District B as a Democrat, Watts said.
“Every Democrat that I know would have gotten involved to see that he got defeated,” Watts said. “He would have had a huge hurdle. We were prepared to dispatch resources to see that he was defeated. … We are committed to recapture the council and we run people who actually have integrity.”
Geake also ran as a Working Families candidate in November 2011. Watts said Geake filled out an application with the Working Families party, promising that he would vote against garbage outsourcing. Geake did not return an email asking about that. Attempts to make phone contact were also unsuccessful.
The outsourcing matter came up in July 2012, and Geake voted for it.
“He betrayed two parties,” Watts said.
Geake got a free pass, Watts said, as Democrats appointed him to be a District B candidate instead of Travis Simms. He did not have to campaign like the rest of the Democratic candidates, knocking on doors in the heat of the summer. Geake watched New York Jets games instead and laughed about it, he said.
The sense of betrayal is therefore profound, Watts said, as Geake undid everything his fellow Democrats worked for.
Watts said the Democrats had been planning to look at residency requirements for the top paid city officials. Moccia told him that outsourcing the garbage collection was a dead issue until Geake switched, Watts said. The mayor would have had a much more difficult time getting appointments through, Watts said.
Geake left the Democratic party after Simms and others forced a primary to challenge the elected members of the DTC. Geake’s wife, Mary, was one of those people. She lost. Geake switched the next day.
Yet, at the time, he cited the behavior of the Democratic caucus.
“I had no intention of running, and this is part of the reason I had no intention of running — all the crap I put up with the last time,” he said. Geake haad served on the council from 2007 to 2009.
Kimmel also blames the behavior of his fellow Democrats for his presence in the Republican caucus.
Although being unaffiliated, Geake said he was still a Democrat.
“I’m still going to vote the way I vote,” Geake said, at the time. “The Republicans know me from last time, they know darn well how I’m going to vote on what issue. They accept that. I won’t change who I am just who I caucus with. … I didn’t stop being a Democrat, I just stopped being a Norwalk Democrat.”
Watts said leaving the party was “drastic.”
“It’s a shame, because I think he’s a nice guy,” Watts said. “But I think something was at work here for him to give away the council majority. The whole trajectory of the city was changed.”
Common Council member Warren Pena (D-At-Large) said he wishes Geake “all the best, and hope he retires from Norwalk politics gracefully.”
Watts issued a parting shot: “I would like to wish Mike Geake good riddance and wish him well in his future endeavor. I don’t think any self-respecting Democrat would run with him again.”