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Carolina, Clergy Spar
by Staff | Oct 5, 2013 8:32 pm
Posted to: Campaign 2013
You should stay in school.
You should stay in church.
That sums up the two positions in the latest back-and-forth in New Haven’s mayoral race.
It started this week when the New Haven Clergy Association, a group of African-American ministers led by the Rev. Boise Kimber and associated with the Democratic mayoral campaign of Toni Harp, issued a press release attacking Kermit Carolina. Carolina ran for mayor in the Sept. 10 Democratic primary, and lost. Now he’s supporting independent mayoral candidate Justin Elicker against Toni Harp in the general election.
Kimber’s group doesn’t like that.
In its release, it attacked Carolina for his “continued high profile participation in local political activities, including in-your-face attacks of the front running candidate for mayor and the current governor.” Carolina challenged Gov. Dannel P. Malloy when he came to town to endorse Harp. He also publicly endorsed Elicker. The clergy group said that as Hillhouse High School’s principal, he has no business out doing that political work.
“It is time for you to focus on educating our children. Instead of spending six months putting a political plan together, you should have focused that energy into mapping an achievement gap mitigation plan,” the group wrote.
Carolina released his own release Friday night, swinging back.
He questioned the high-profile role Kimber has played in New Haven politics for the past two-plus decades. Kimber was a prominent supporter of Mayor John DeStefano’s campaigns. Click here for a story about how he attacked Carolina before the Sept. 10 Democratic primary at a rally on Harp’s behalf. Kimber accused Carolina of “disrespecting womanhood.” Carolina questioned whether leaders of not-for-profit churches should be getting involved in political campaigns.
“Not only did the group possibly violate federal law when saying publicly that it supports Toni Harp, and then doubling down on this support when its President, James Newman, said that the Association was ‘proud that she is our candidate,’ but they appear to further violate the law by intervening in a political campaign by telling me not to engage in the political process. At this point, I am considering contacting the Internal Revenue Service in order to request that the group’s status be reviewed and to further determine if any laws have been violated,” Carolina stated.
Click here to read Carolina’s full statement.
The latest back-and-forth reflects an ongoing debate with shifting teams rosters about who best represents the African-American community, and how.
Kimber, who has been among the most prominent politically active black figures in town, lost influence two years ago when two aldermanic candidates backed by a labor coalition, Delphine Clyburn and Brenda Foskey-Cyrus, defeated Kimber-backed candidates in Newhallville, Kimber’s base. They clashed with Kimber over a subsequent set of negotiations over community benefits in the construction of a new home for Amistad High School in Newhallville. (Read about that here and here.) Now Kimber and those alderwomen are backing the same candidate for mayor, Harp; while Carolina and some of his supporters—who have generally lined up against Kimber in previous mayoral races—are backing Elicker.
To add to the confusion, Toni Harp and her supporters have generally been on the other side of Kimber in many past New Haven elections. Now they’re on the same side, for this election.
Stay tuned—more clashes or shifting alliances are inevitable in months to come.
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