A Democratic City Council candidate who fell short on Election Day blames his party’s losses in part on two former party leaders he called “turncoats or even your typical Judas” because they failed to back Democratic candidates.
Mayor Art Ward and former city Councilor Kevin Fuller were “Republicans dressed as Democrats, fooling many voters,” said SteveJeffries, a Democrat who placed third among the four candidates in the 1st District’s City Council race.
“I can honestly say that I have never read, heard or witnessed one or even two politicians betray the party that supported them as Ward and Fuller demonstrated here in Bristol,” Jeffries said.
While Fuller, a two-term Democrat who resigned from the council last spring, endorsed Republican mayoral contender Ken Cockayne, Ward took a hands-off approach to the mayoral election. He endorsed two council candidates, Democrat Calvin Brown and Republican Rich Miecznikowski.
Jeffries said that Ward and Fuller need to “man up and come clean with all of Bristol, especially the Democratic voters.”
Jeffries said Ward should have been with Democrats on Election Night “instead of whooping it up with the Republican establishment.”
Asked for comment about Jeffries’ words, Ward, a three-term Democrat who stepped down this month, gave a one word answer: “Who?”
Fuller said he found it interesting “that Mr. Jeffries would give me that much credit that I could influence an election.”
“If I did have that power, then why did Mr. Jeffries never ever contact me prior to the election to talk to me about supporting him? Not a call, an email, nothing,” Fuller said.
Fuller, who was almost the Democratic mayoral candidate, said that “instead of trying to shift the blame of losing to someone else,” Jeffries should “look in the mirror and the only person responsible for the loss is the person you’re looking at.”
Cockayne dismissed Jeffries’ complaint as “nothing less than sour grapes.”
“Democrats in town have enjoyed Republican support over the years and you never heard Mr. Jefferies complain then,” Cockayne said.
City Republican Chairman Tom “TJ” Barnes said he found Jeffries’ comments interesting given that the Democrats this year chose Chris Wilson as their mayoral candidate, a lifelong Republican elected on the GOP line to the Board of Education in 2011 who switched parties “so he could run for mayor” as a Democrat.
He said Jeffries never voted in municipal elections before this year – he lived in another town – and never found time to support Fuller or Ward when they were on the ballot yet “when it his turn he demands they support him.”
“My experience has always been that when you lose an election, the main reason for the loss was the stuff you didn't do and not because what other people didn't do on your behalf,” Barnes said, adding that it’s time to move on to the next election cycle instead of looking back.
Brown, who won a 1st District seat, said that “name calling and this ‘us versus them’ mentality is what’s ruining city politics.”
Brown said Fuller is “a private citizen who endorsed a friend running for mayor” while Ward didn’t endorse anyone for mayor.
“Endorsements did not make, or break, this election for anybody. Period,” Brown said.
Another candidate in a council race, Frank Kramer, who was unsuccessful in his unaffiliated bid for a seat, said that given that most council winners triumphed by “statistically significant majorities, I think the Ward effect was nominal, endorsement or no endorsement.”
But, he said, in the mayoral race, Ward’s “silent, tacit” backing for Cockayne may have made a difference in the outcome.
Wilson said he has “turned the page” and doesn’t want to talk about the election.
Jeffries sent along a comment today:
While newspapers look for articles that have juicy soundbites to attract their readers, I personally feel that this recent article only hurts rather than helps. I do take responsibility for what I shared back in early November however let me be clear, the election and results are way in my rear view mirror and I have moved on. Please let this subject die so that those elected on both sides of the aisle can work together for the betterment of Bristol.
Here is the full statement he issued on Nov. 20th:
Politics has often been referred to as a "blood sport" where if you can't take the heat, then get out of the kitchen. The election is over, the voice of the people have spoken and it's time for everyone who was elected to get to work and hopefully work together to help make this city great. I am extremely proud of our democratic ticket that was led by Chris Wilson for Mayor, I know he would have been outstanding had he been given a chance. The same goes for Bob Voitek who was running in the 2nd district for City Council. Ellen Zoppo, Mary Fortier and my running mate in the 1st District, Calvin Brown will do an awesome job, of that I have no doubt, just as I have no doubt that the DTC will continue to grow and be even stronger when the next election in 2015 rolls around.
My calling out Art Ward and Kevin Fuller and labling them as turncoats or even your typical Judus is not unwaranted or unfair. On the contrary it's totally fair and begs questions. Let's face it, actions speak louder than words and it was crystal clear that their individual and collective actions were quite loud and quite clear. Having followed politics very close for over thirty years and having majored in Political Science at CCSU as an undergraduate, I can honestly say that I have never read, heard or witnessed one or even two politicians betray the party that supported them as Ward and Fuller demonstrated here in Bristol. Politicians should be judged on their character, espeically when so much is riding on the line. Let me be clear here, I am not speaking for the DTC and not as a candidate, but as a concerned citizen who simply wants a straight up answer. I do believe that the citizens of this city deserve an answer from both Art Ward and Kevin Fuller. Why wasn't Ward with his party (democrats) at their headquarters the night of the returns instead of whooping it up with the Republican establishment? Why did Kevin Fuller turn his back on the democratic party that supported him in the past and why did he come out and throw his support by endorsing the Repubican Candidate for Mayor, Ken Cockayne? While Kevin Fuller did resign his city council seat back in May of this year, the famous saying, "Once a politician, always a politician" remains. Deny it all you want Mr. Fuller, but you did use your influence as a former city councilman to redirect voters away from your party, your fingerprints are all over on this.
I hope these two will man up and come clean with all of Bristol especially the democratic voters. Based on their actions, it only looks like these two were in the end Republicans dressed as Democrats, fooling many voters!
I wrote the piece posted above on Nov. 21. In some kind of glitch, it never ran in the paper. I was on vacation until Dec. 8 so this is about as fast as I could have posted the story.