Chris Keating reports from New Haven that state Sen. Toni Harp has won the backing of the New Haven Democratic Town Committee for her mayoral bid in a blowout victory with 52 votes.
City alderman Justin Elicker received four votes and former New Haven economic development administrator Henry Fernandez received two votes. Hillhouse High School principal Kermit Carolina and Newhallville plumber Sundiata Keitazulu did not receive any votes and were not nominated by any members of the 60-member town committee.
The candidates have vowed to collect the necessary signatures in the next two weeks to qualify for the September 10 Democratic primary. Keitazulu, seen by some political insiders as the weakest candidate, told Capitol Watch after the vote Tuesday night that he is staying in the race and will be collecting signatures in an attempt to qualify for the primary.
Vinnie Mauro, the town committee’s vice chairman, correctly predicted before the meeting that Harp would receive at least 50 votes.
Harp remains locked in a heated battle against the other Democratic candidates, who have blasted her and each other during the campaign. In recent weeks, she has been dogged by questions about more than $1 million in back taxes owed by Renaissance Management Company, which was run by her late husband and is now operated by her 32-year-old son, Wendell Matthew. But that didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of her supporters, as you can see in Keating’s video below:
The city’s primary election is scheduled for Tuesday, September 10. The candidates are vying to succeed Mayor John DeStefano, who is not seeking reelection after 20 years in office.