NORWALK, Conn. – Amanda Brown tried hard to rally the troops Monday night, now that the Norwalk Democratic Town Committee finally has a mayoral candidate to rally behind.
“We all had different ideas on the mayoral candidate, but the main purpose was the same. We all wanted Norwalk to be better. That is our common purpose,” DTC Chairwoman Brown said in City Hall.
Both Brown and former Norwalk Police Chief Harry Rilling took pains to thank the three men who did not win last Tuesday’s primary — Andy Garfunkel, Matt Miklave and Vinny Mangiacopra — for their efforts. Rilling said he has reached out to them and conversations are planned.
“Everyone has ideas we can mold together,” he said.
Gov. Dannel Malloy, U.S. Rep. Jim Himes, Sen. Chris Murphy and others have reached out to tell Rilling how important it is to “turn Norwalk blue again.”
“This is not going to be an easy campaign,” he said.
Indeed. Brown had thoughts on the topic of tackling eight-year incumbent Republican Mayor Richard Moccia as well.
“Mr. Moccia is not as weak as we had expected him to be,” she said. “With that being said, Harry is a very good candidate. He became the people’s choice when he won the way that he did and we want to make sure that not only the people’s choice but our under-ticket that we chose gets all into office so they can do the job that the city of Norwalk really desires.”
The election is only 49 days away, she said.
“It means 49 hard days of campaigning. That means we’re going from second gear to fifth gear today and we’re running on all cylinders. If we can speak with one voice as one party there is no reason why we can’t get this electorate, which tops the Republican electorate, to vote for us and put all of our people in office.”
That ticket is not quite as advertised in July. John Hauter has withdrawn his name as a District C Common Council candidate, and Republican Town Clerk Rick McQuaid is currently running unopposed.
Brown asked the Dems to try and find candidates for those positions, particularly because it leaves District C council candidate John Kydes at a disadvantage, a “serious hole.” The good news is that the Republicans seem to think of Kydes as a threat in their East Norwalk stronghold as they are watching him like a hawk, having complained about where he has put signs, she said.
Kydes said he must be doing something right, as the Republicans are angry.
Second Taxing District candidates have changed as well. Martha Dumas is now running for commissioner instead of Sandra Stokes. The Rev. Sonya Merrill is running for treasurer instead of Lenora Jordan.
Brown said that, while Moccia hasn’t been as weakened as she had hoped, the Democratic Party was “actually getting a lot of grass roots organizing and gathering done,” and had demonstrated to the public that the party could raise money, get endorsements and knock on doors.
There are now 15,985 registered Democrats in Norwalk, about 500 more than when the campaigns started.
Again, she said, only 49 days left. “That’s all we have left to campaign,” she said. “We have several candidates that are not necessarily well known that we’re going to have to do a lot of pushing and work to get them known as well as what they need to win.”
Rilling said he expects to get a campaign headquarters lined up in a few days, which he predicted would be “a beehive of activity.” That would start with Saturday morning meetings.
“We have better ideas, we have better people, we have the better team,” he said. “We have to let people know.”
The new Republican headquarters are “not very impressive,” he said, vowing to best the GOP in that department as well.
Rilling also has secured the Working Families Party endorsement. He said he has a new field director and is talking to a potential finance person.
Winning is “extremely doable,” he said.
“We can and we will do it,” he said. “We have to do it collectively.”
Afterward, Common Councilman David Watts agreed with Brown that Moccia will be tough, even considering Garfunkel came within 880 votes last time.
“If anybody goes into this election thinking that he’s weak, they’ve got another thing coming,” he said. “He’s a formidable opponent. He has a lot of resources at his disposal. You cannot take an eight-year incumbent lightly.”