Despite the angry remarks and heated denials, as the United States flirts with the potential of beginning a discussion about actually coming to grips with the rampant racism that undermines its egalitarian principles, the fact that the Hartford Democratic Town Committee handed its endorsement for mayor to a white, wealthy, privileged Greenwich native is, in fact, an appropriate issue to discuss.
For Democrats, who have traditionally supported the underlying value and necessity of affirmative action and recognized the critical importance of political self-determination, Luke Bronin’s rising candidacy could be called an example of neo-colonialism, in which the super elite and outsiders, claiming to “know best,” manipulate or corrupt the political process.
To others, Bronin’s arrival on the scene is being described as a way to save Hartford from itself.
As a suburban Democrat posted to Facebook yesterday,
“For when you consider Luke Bronin for Mayor‘s resume, its more like a top-notch major league pitching prospect choosing to start his career with a basement-dwelling single-A ball club that nobody goes to see play.” He added, “Hartford is incredibly lucky that a man with Bronin’s ambition, strategic vision, and demonstrated ability to execute wants this job.”
However you see it, this political development pushes Hartford and Connecticut into the national debate about the role of race, ethnicity and white privilege in American politics.
The tone and tenor of the comments, Tweets and Facebook posts the followed the recent publication of the Wait, What? post Wealthy, White, privileged, male from Greenwich tells Hartford – Make me your leader also say a lot about how we grapple with the topic of race, ethnicity and power.
As we should all be keenly aware, racism, discrimination and the notion of white privilege goes well beyond the issue of shooting unarmed African American men in the back or dragging an African –American woman off to jail because she was not a “model person” when inappropriately stopped by a white police officer.
So “with all due respect” to the individuals who commented or Tweeted that I was a racist and a bigot for even discussing Luke Bronin’s rise to stardom, the facts themselves are pretty simple.
In a city in which half the residents are Latino, and more than 80 percent are “minority,” it is certainly newsworthy that Hartford’s Democratic elite have thrown their money, power, support and endorsement behind a White newcomer rather than go with the incumbent Latino mayor.
With Mayor Pedro Segarra calling the endorsement process corrupt and walking out of the Democratic Town Committee meeting last night, the final vote was 49 for Bronin with 23 members abstaining.
But more hidden from view, and far more consequential was the dance of the power-brokers who had successfully lined up considerable support for Bronin’s candidacy.
With significant guidance from William DiBella, the former State Senator and present Chairman of the influential Metropolitan District Commission, along with other key white political players at the state and local level, Bronin has been able to persuade many political and business leaders in Hartford to support him rather than support or seek out alternative African-American and Latino candidates.
In the world in which we live it would be unlikely, even unfathomable, that a young Latino or African-American would be able to move from Hartford to Greenwich and quickly line up the support to become the town’s first selectman. For that matter, any person, no matter their color, would have a hard time moving from one town to another and then announcing that they are ready to be chosen as the community’s chief elected official in a matter of a few years.
However, the reality surrounding wealth and white privilege functions by its own set of rules – especially when it is inserted into the urban, minority politics of a major city.
Not only did the stars align early for Bronin’s quest to become Hartford’s mayor, but the evidence is clear that Governor Malloy, top Democratic state leaders and a number of the state’s corporate executives played a major role in giving life to Luke Bronin’s aspirations.
And leading the list of factors is harsh reality that money is “The Mother’s Milk” of politics.
According to his most recent campaign finance report, Luke Bronin raised a record-breaking $661,000 in the first six months of his campaign, leaving him with five or six times what Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra has to defend his position.
Bronin’s donor list turns out to be a who’s who in Connecticut government and politics including Malloy’s former Chief of Staff, Tim Bannon, and a lengthy list of major lobbyists, those who do business with the state and those who have benefited from Malloy’s corporate welfare programs.
The money trail also speaks volumes about Luke Bronin’s candidacy, modern politics and the state of our democracy.
In the opening weeks of the campaign, Bronin raised just over $381,000 including nearly 100 $1,000 donors – the maximum allowable contribution – from people who reside outside of Connecticut.
While this mayoral election is about who should lead the City of Hartford, Connecticut, a leading source of Bronin’s major donors is New York, where he collected $50,000 in 50 individual $1,000 checks in just the first sixty or so days of his campaign.
Additional maximum contributions came from people in Washington D.C., Florida, California, Texas, Massachusetts, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Michigan, Hawaii, Nebraska, Delaware, Missouri, Colorado, Wisconsin, Vermont, North Carolina and Nebraska.
During those early weeks, Bronin held two campaign fundraisers in Washington D.C., as well as fundraising events in Los Angeles and New York City.
Bronin was also able to cash in with donors from his hometown of Greenwich, where at least 31 people gave him the maximum allowable contribution of $1,000 per person.
As the first fundraising period ended, Bronin had nearly 120 people in suburban Connecticut donate the maximum $1,000 contribution.
Next to Greenwich, the most fertile ground was West Hartford were his donor list includes some of the biggest and most consistent donors to the Connecticut Democratic Party.
Whether measured by the influence of Connecticut political and business elite or by the massive amount of money that is pouring into Luke Bronin’s campaign, what is happening to the people of Hartford is indicative of something much bigger than simply a primary challenge between the community’s various political factions.
Self-determination is traditionally defined as the right of the people of a particular place to choose their government and leaders and where they have the freedom to make their own choices.”
Luke Bronin may very well get elected and be a fine mayor, but to pretend that race, ethnicity and white privilege is not a factor in the Hartford’s mayoral campaign is to deny reality and to deny the truth is a grave injustice to the people of Hartford.
For more about recent political developments in Hartford check out the following links;
Hartford Courant – http://www.courant.com/community/hartford/hc-hartford-democrats-nominating-convention-0728-20150727-story.html
CTNewsjunkie – http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/archives/entry/segarra_walks_out_as_bronin_secures_mayoral_endorsement/
Colin McEnroe – http://courantblogs.com/colin-mcenroe/city-of-hartford-jedi-masters-need-not-apply/
WNPR – http://wnpr.org/post/hartfords-pedro-segarra-wins-emotions-luke-bronin-wins-endorsement
NBC (CT) – http://www.nbcconnecticut.com/news/politics/Hartford-Mayoral-Candidate-Luke-Bronin-Wins-Democratic-Party-Endorsement-318727211.html
WFSB (CT) – http://www.wfsb.com/story/29643077/hartford-dems-endorse-luke-bronin