NORWALK, Conn. —Norwalk Republicans have put forth a challenger for Mayor Harry Rilling – their chairman, Andy Conroy.
Conroy filed papers to run for mayor Friday, he said. Former City Clerk Ellen Wink has been saying that she will also file papers, he said.
Wink confirmed that via email, saying that she’ll file papers Tuesday.
“I decided that we needed competition in the race and so I jumped in,” said Conroy, Republican Town Committee chairman, after explaining that he has asked numerous Republicans if they’d run but was told that they were not ready yet for various reasons.
For instance, when they retire they’ll run, he said.
“If we go two years down the road we have a lot of people,” he said.
Rilling faces challengers from within, as State Rep. Bruce Morris (D-140) has filed papers. That would mean a primary. Morris has not yet made a formal announcement to the public, although he has been promising that one is imminent.
It’s also rumored that former District D Democrats Chairman Vinny Mangiacopra, who ran for mayor in 2013, will run. Mangiacopra switched his party registration from Democrat to unaffiliated this spring, a move that insiders said would open up the possibility a mayoral run without a primary.
A Working Families Party endorsement is possible. Rilling was endorsed by WFP in the last election cycle. Former Council member Sharon Stewart also said recently that she would run for mayor, seeking a WFP endorsement.
Conroy said last week that Republicans would not endorse Mangiacopra as an unaffiliated candidate because it would be too easy for Mangiacopra to go back to the Democratic Party after the election. If Mangiacopra ran as a Republican that would be different, he said.
Rilling has a war chest of more than $100,000, and Conroy said Saturday that he expects the mayor to raise $150,000 in his drive to be elected for a third two-year term.
“I don’t think we’ll raise that much money, not anywhere near it and we won’t run that kind of a campaign. But we will definitely run a competitive campaign. I don’t think it’s a good idea not to run a mayoral candidate,” Conroy said.
Conroy is a former Common Council member and a former Sixth Taxing District Commissioner, and currently serves as Zoning Board of Appeals chairman.
Republicans will sort out who their candidate will be at their convention in July, he said, explaining that between now and then he and the party are going to be working on position papers.
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