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Norwalk Dem mayoral hopefuls debate effect of ballot order

When Norwalk Democrats vote on Sept. 10, the first name they will see on the ballot is Andy Garfunkel.

NORWALK, Conn. – Who’s on first? Or, more appropriately, who’s on the first line?

Ballot order for the Sept. 10 Democratic mayoral primary doesn’t make any difference, according to the two men who have raised the most money in their drive to be Norwalk’s next mayor. But one of their determined opponents disagrees.

There will be no candidate listed in Row A, the endorsed candidate line, Norwalk Democratic Registrar Stuart Wells said. The candidates will then be listed in alphabetical order, with Andy Garfunkel on Row B; Vinny Mangiacopra on Row C; Matt Miklave on Row D; and Harry Rilling last, on Row E.

Does Rilling think it will make a difference? In a word, no.

“I think people, by the time they get in to vote, they will already have decided who they’re voting for,” he said. “I don’t think it hurts me at all. I think that people that are going to support me will see my name and they’ll vote for me. People that are going to support others, they’ll support them.”

The nature of the special election makes it a moot point, he said. It’s not as if there are slates of candidates running together, he said.

“If I was the candidate on the top and I had name recognition and there were other people down below, I’d be fearful of that,” he said. “But there’s only one choice and that’s for mayor. People are going to pick the person they think is most electable. I honestly believe that is me.”

Mangiacopra indicated that position isn’t an issue.

“We feel confident, no matter where we are on the ballot, that we can win on Sept. 10,” he said in an email. “Norwalk will no longer accept the status quo, permeated by the same people, all just running to switch seats without changing the way Norwalk works. I’m running because if we want change in City Hall, we need to change the people there. Voters are looking for that change in this primary.”

Garfunkel did not reply to an email asking how he feels about it. Miklave said during an interview that he thinks ballot order does make a difference, but it’s hard to say how much.

“Four is a tossup. We would have been more concerned if it were three,” he said. “On the top of the ballot, I think would have been an advantage to Vinny. I think Harry is at a little bit of a disadvantage being at the bottom. I am pretty comfortable being in the middle. It’s just a visual – we’re not sure because four is a tough number.”

His strategist studies statistics for a living, he said. Their projections for the “historic” election call for about 5,000 voters.

“It’s going to look like a really fun, retail politic political campaign,” he said. “The winner of this election will have maybe 2,000 votes. It’s a shockingly small electorate. You literally can talk to every one of those people before election day.”

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