At “Unity Rally,” Harp, DeLauro Tap Into History
by Paul Bass | Sep 23, 2013 8:44 pm
Posted to: Wooster Square, Campaign 2013
The scripted portion of the evening had ended. The music picked up—and Barbara Holden found herself dancing in the park.
Wooster Square Park, to be precise.
Holden, a 73-year-old retired hospital worker, was in the park Monday evening for a campaign rally. She stood in the park listening to U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro give a speech. DeLauro endorsed the mayoral campaign of Democrat Toni Harp. Holden cheered. Everyone cheered.
Holden stood in the park listening to a group of white- and gray-haired men who run the building trades unions, who previously had endorsed a different candidate in the Democratic mayoral primary, endorse Harp for the general election. Holden applauded. Everyone applauded.
Holden stood in the park listening to Harp herself give the keynote speech exhorting Democrats to vote for her on Nov. 5. Holden, along with more than 100 others present for the rally, cheered.
Then the deejays cranked up Harp’s campaign theme song, Alicia Keys’ “Girl On Fire.” DeLauro gave Harp a hug.
DeLauro, a tap dancer back in her childhood days, started dancing along with the song. (Click on the video at the top of this story to watch.)
Harp, caught up in the spirit, started dancing too.
Holden (at right in photo) started dancing. With gusto. So did a lot of other people, especially African-American women like Holden, caught up in the spirit.
The rally—a formal kick-off to Harp’s general-election campaign—had its revelatory moment.
Candidates draw voters for a variety of reasons: platforms, records, comparisons with the opposition, particularly effective marketing. Then they have their core supporters, the base for whom the campaign is a crusade, the passionate believers who identify personally with the candidate, who see themselves in him—or, as is the case of Harp, who’s running to become the city’s first female (and African-American female) mayor, her.
Harp’s opponent, independent Justin Elicker, has plenty of core supporters like that, too. One such revelatory moment about that base came in a communal locally-sourced 155-pound pig roast in East Rock at the home of the writer Jack Hitt; read all about that here. Elicker emerged as Harp’s top opponent in a crowded primary season in part because he convinced a significant number of New Haveners that he shares their passions for clean, for publicly-financed campaigns, for bike- and pedestrian-friendly streets, for a break from established political organizations and labor unions, as well as for home-bred chickens and environmentally conscious living. They see themselves in the candidate.
For some of the Harp supporters caught up in the spontaneous “Girl on Fire” celebration in Wooster Square Park Monday night, for people like Barbara Holden, Harp represents the culmination of a lifetime of gradual, hard-fought progress for women, especially African-American women.
They see their own history being made. They, too, see themselves in their candidate.
“This must happen. This has to happen,” Holden, a 73-year-old retired Yale-New Haven Hospital employee, said after the music ended. She was referring to Harp’s prospects of becoming mayor. She has been volunteering for Harp’s campaign, just as she volunteered 24 years ago to help John Daniels become the city’s first black mayor.
“This woman is opening doors for black females that have never been open in this city before,” Holden said.
Jan Parker is recovering from back surgery. That didn’t stop Parker (second from left in photo) from hopping into the midst of the “Girl on Fire” line dance.
“I hope the insurance people aren’t looking!” she joked.
Parker, 82 (pictured with fellow Harp women Esther Armand, Holden, and Carol Suber), has worked on campaigns, political campaigns, civil-rights campaigns, for more than a half century. She supported her husband Hank’s three runs for mayor. (Hank Parker won a different office, state treasurer, serving as the state’s highest African-American elected official.) Parker herself served a term in the state legislature.
She spoke of “watching” Harp’s “journey” over the past 26 years as first an alderwoman, then a state senator working her way up to the powerful position of co-chair of the legislature’s Appropriations Committee. Parker spoke of Harp’s mayoral campaign as the culmination of her own decades in the political trenches.
“You know who Fannie Lou Hamer was?” she asked. “A lot of that is happening in New Haven—women coming together. The joy is overwhelming.”
Audrey Tyson (second from left in photo), another woman who has spent decades working on campaigns, also got caught up in the moment. “I’m very proud as a black woman,” she said. “I feel like we’ve come a long way. This makes history for us.”
The event’s emcee, Hill Alderwoman and Democratic Town Chair Jackie James (at left in photo alongside Jimmy Kottage and Frank Ricci of the firefighters union), spoke of the campaign in terms of her role as “the mother of an African-American girl.” Girls like her daughter, she said, will “see there are great possibilities” if Harp gets elected.
The rally’s official speakers hit on some of the same themes, minus the music. They made a conscious link between the career of DeLauro—New Haven’s first female U.S. representative—and that of Harp.
“They are cut from the same cloth,” remarked former aldermanic board President Tomas Reyes in introducing DeLauro.
DeLauro herself spoke of her mom Luisa, a longtime Wooster Square alderwoman. (She spoke next to a sculpture entitled the “DeLauro family table.”) DeLauro quoted a line her mother had written in 1938 in a newsletter for her Democratic ward club: “Come on girls, let’s make ourselves heard!”
“Toni Harp has made herself heard” on issues ranging from health care to job creation, from homelessness to public safety to education, DeLauro said.
She spoke of how Harp, the daughter of a Greyhound bus and a Santa Fe railroad worker, helped organize a city government AFSCME local and served as a steward before entering political elected office. She emphasized the labor ties both she and Harp have. They both present years in elected office as a plus, as valuable experience, rather than presenting veteran elected office-holding as a problem; Harp has held her State Senate seat for 21 years, DeLauro her U.S. Congressional seat for 23 years.
And DeLauro specifically spoke to African-American women like Holden and Tyson: She noted that African-American women account for only 5 percent state legislators nationwide; that only a dozen or so cities with more than 50,000 people—and only one city with a population over 100,000 (Baltimore)—have a black woman as mayor.
In her own remarks, Harp spoke of DeLauro in turn as a “trailblazer and a glass-ceiling breaker,” “an inspiration to me.”
Then she noted paid sick-leave and gun control as examples of issues DeLauro has promoted in Congress while Harp has simultaneously promoted them in Hartford.
Harp chose not to mention Elicker or criticize his campaign. Instead, she focused on “what it means to be a Democrat”—a call to the party faithful, the largest voting block in the city, to stick together in November. She defined Democrats thusly: “The party of Roosevelt. Of Kennedy. Of Obama. The party of Ella Grasso. And the party of Rosa DeLauro.”
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How many of the folks at this rally live next to one of the 500 corner stores that is about to be turned into a neighborhood gambling den, thanks to Harp’s support for Keno - a measure she helped sneak through the State without consulting the residents who will be impacted?
Here are people who do NOT live next to corner stores, or anywhere near them, really:
1. Rosa DeLauro.
2. Toni Harp.
Harp is no DeLauro. And DeLauro works at the Federal level, so doesn’t usually make these types of grave mistakes.
This is a good setup of the old party versus the new party. Let’s hope the voters are smart enough to toss out a stale politician like Harp.
Unity Rally.Give me a break.This is nothing more then Career Dinosaur politicians who are fearful of losing power for their party.These Dinosaur Career politicians have built powerful political machines able to overpower most opposition. After all, blocks of votes are regularly purchased for the price of political favors, union concessions, and backroom deals.You can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but career politicians have a plethora of tricks, and they sure aren’t scared to use them. They’ll use whatever they can pull from their filthy little bags just to stay in office like pulling out so-called leaders who have sold their political souls and prostituted themselves for power and the accompanying wealth that great power affords. Career politicians are disconnected from reality and from their constituents. These politicians are only concerned with securing their seats.In the process of cowardly saving their seats, career politicians lose interest in the people who got them into in the first place. They lose sight of the fact that many people are living paycheck-to-paycheck and struggling to make ends meet because of failed policies their very representatives failed to stop. Yet, they end up back in office because they know that the people are stuck between a rock and a hard place, and must simply resort to voting for the lesser of two evils. Remember On November 5 the games begin again. We’ll have some new faces, but the POWER-BROKERS, those who are really in charge will immediately begin trying to corrupt those new to office; and those they can’t corrupt, they’ll work to diminish.
Has anybody been accosted by the Working Families Party canvasseers for Harp that were on Chapel Street today????
A young chipper suburban white male stopped me to tell me what the Working Families Party was doing for.
“Doing for me?”, I replied, “You’re probably endorsing Harp,”
“Oh Yesssss!”, he gleefully chirped as if someone cared.
I felt ‘The Bird” was the proper response.
I want to make sure I’m clear about this. White fire fighters who benefitted from the Ricci decision are overjoyed that Toni Harp will become the first woman Mayor of New Haven? The same firefighters who contended that race should not be a factor in the fire department believe that gender should be the qualifying factor for Mayor of New Haven? I’m confused.
Noteworthy, three-fifths, Robyn, Rev. Ross-Lee, could you please help me understand this apparent contradiction? Could it be that Harp is just a mouthpiece for the Unions? Looking forward to gaining clarity here.
Harp Campaign strategy =
Push race and gender
Cry racism and sexism when you’re criticized
I love how Harp’s biggest supporters all cite the same reason why she’ll be a great mayor. Oh, actually they don’t, they don’t cite anything related to policy or the benefit of New Haven. They’re just happy she’s a woman and black. Great reason to support any candidate. I wonder if any of them have read the budget or been to Newhallville.
Paul, your description of Elicker supporters as bike riding, composting, chicken breeders is akin to insulting an editors tiny beanie. Completely designed to be irritating and nothing to do with the substance of the man. I would say the same about that dance footage except that it is comedy gold and will shortly go viral with Howard Deans scream.
[Editor: Thanks for the feedback. I promise I didn’t mean any insult. I am a proud composter. A proud bike commuter. I don’t breed chickens, but that’s because I’m a vegan; I do care about locally sustainable agriculture. I get the sense that perhaps you don’t wear a “beanie.” I’m proud of wearing a beanie, too, though I don’t call it a beanie.]
It saddens me that so many are behind Harp based on her gender and race. We will know we are truly living in a democratic city when the choice is based on issues, rather then attributes. Ms. Harp needs to sharpen her vision for NHV beyond jobs and safety and tone down the “girl on fire” angle. No one is holding her responsible for her consistently evasive responses to real policy questions.
Fwiw, Andy Ross is a card-carrying Republican, and someone who made a conscious decision to run for alderman as part of the Republican ticket.
Here’s hoping the NHI won’t again make the mistake of referring to him as an “independent”, regardless of a missed deadline by the New Haven GOP.
Also, Justin Elicker is still very much a Democrat, even if Harp is the official nominee. Readers are done a disservice if a candidate’s party affiliation is omitted, or in the case of Ross,—glossed over.
Finally, isn’t the more proper designation “petitioning candidate”? Again, fwiw.
[Editor: Ross informs us that as of Monday he has removed his name from the Republican line on the ballot. He will appear on an independent line.]
Obama Endorses de Blasio in New York Mayor’s Race
Who do you all think Obama would endorse for mayor here in New Haven Harp or Elicker.
Plenty of pomp but where’s the substance?
This seems to be the hype campaign. The type of hype that aligning yourself with special interests, in the form $30,000 checks from Washington and $9,000 donations from suburban doctors who likely couldn’t place Newhallville, the Hill, or Fair Haven on a map, buys you.
Do people not realize that no matter how much Toni Harp claims to have the people’s interests in mind, the outsiders who are financing her campaign will be the ones with the most influence?
@NHI—Unless Ross changed his party affiliation, he’s still a proud Republican. That’s been his choice, and I hope you all won’t help to obfuscate it.
MONEY STICKING WITH MONEY ALL THE WAY AROUND INLCDING THE UNIONS…NEW HAVEN HARP IS ANOTHER DESTEFANO….DISGUSTING!!!!!
@ Anderson Scooper—“Justin Elicker is still very much a Democrat, even if Harp is the official nominee.”
Elicker’s half-hearted attempt to become the Democratic Party nominee for Mayor was rebuffed by the Party when he only received 23% of the vote. He is not able to lay claim to use of the “Democrat” designation on the ballot.
Justin Elicker has been many things in his public service career—including an official in the George Bush State Department. I believe the voters deserve to know whether he still endorses the foreign policy positions of his former boss.
I’d like to object to your comparing Toni Harp to John DeStefano. Yes, they may both be old-school politicians, relying on deep-seated political connections and big donors to win elections. However, John DeStefano, regardless of your opinion of him, has vision and charisma. Harp has displayed neither during this campaign.
Watching her at the debates and elsewhere, I’m not 100% convinced she wants to be mayor.
Razzie - Now that’s interesting! Can you find out exactly what role Elicker played at the State Dept. while George Bush was president?!?
I almost agree your assessment.
except I would have used the necessary qualifier ‘some’ when referring to Destefano’s Vision and Charisma.
What the bleep is this the voice?? WHAT ABOUT THE ISSUES that this city has. When is she going to start talking about those and not just listing the issues (we all know what they are!) What we do NOT know is her plan to fix them!! How many months has she been campaigning and still nothing but a freakn dance off.
My god has reality tv dumbed us down?
It is moving to see how inspired by her race and gender some Harp supporters are. Really.
But I do wonder if the pay-to-play thing (self admitted) gives them pause. It must among some of them. (?)
I also wonder if the “innocent ignorant spouse” defense
to her family’s tax evasion is really the kind of example for women
that these supporters want in their female leaders. (?)
Hopefully the content of the candidates’ character will
matter to some of these folks. (?)
As for the fire union guys - I am less moved by their enthusiasm and motivation - just disappointed in their shortsightedness….A bankrupt pension system will benefit none of them.
I agree with Wooster Squared. Watching Harp try to talk with Fernandez and Elicker at several debates came as a sudden shock to many longtime New Haven residents.
People came in with high expectations about Harp, but the letdown wasn’t exactly a soft landing. Her debate performance was shockingly bad, as she displayed virtually no substantial understanding of the issues being discussed. At least Keitazulu gave some specifics.
Fernandez was right when he said that Harp hadn’t read the budget, and Harp was right when she admitted that she had no idea how all the state money that she “sent down” had been spent.
DeStefano versus Elicker would be more of an even match. DeStefano wouldn’t begin every debate by nosediving into the ground.
Elicker was not an “official” in the Bush State Department. He was not appointed by the President; he was a Foreign Service Officer, i.e. a career diplomat.
My fellow member of the NHI Comentariat, I have some good news. Tuesday, I was out canvassing for Justin on lower Winchester and one some of the side streets between Winchester and Mansfield. (As it happens, the staunchest support of Sen. Harp I met was a white woman.) Just as I was wrapping up, I met three black people.
“Hello, my name is Harold, and I am out canvassing for Justin Elicker.”
“I have met that gentleman.”
“May I give you some literature?”
“Sure. No way am I ready to have Toni Harp as mayor.”
“Would you like a bumper sticker?”
“Please. I am going to vote for Justin Elicker.”
“How about a lawn sign?”
“I’ll take one of those too.”
I think we are seeing an awaking. Mike and Doug not only won their primaries, they won a proxy war between the old way of doing things, and the forces of good government.
Razzie, you appear to have the bad habit of slandering people you do not know. First Mike Stratton, and now you dare question my integrity. I will have you know that I am an Eagle Scout, a Commissioned Officer, and a Gentleman. I do not lie ever. Hide behind your nom de plume.
The events I described happened about 30 minutes before sunset, on the Eastern side of Winchester Ave, near Monterey Place. If the quotes are not absolute verbatim, there are very close, in order, and without deviation from the meaning of what was said.
You entirely miss my point. The awaking I wrote of transcends skin color and gender. It is the realization by people of all ethnicities and histories that there are two camps locked in political combat. One is the DTC and a monolithic union bloc, the other is a new paradigm of New Haven politics, transparent government that serves the people with an end to pay to play.
I find it rather a bit much that you demand Justin Elicker prove a negative, while you appear to see no need to prove a positive.
Our current fiscal policy does not simply milk New Haven, it is bleeding it dry.
I should be happy to meet you at any convent time.
Elicker supporters haven’t criticized Sen Harps skin color or gender or class. They’ve criticized her fiscal irresponsibility in the legislature (highest per capita debt in the nation), her detachment from city life of New Haven (Newhallville was “traumatic”), her family’s tax evasion (from which she continues to reap benefits), her cozy relationship with suburban union leaders (who have no interest in controlling New Haven’s budget), her 80% out-of-city donations including shady donors (Connecticut Orthopaedic Specialists who committed fraud against the city), and her indifference to problem gambling (Keno).
Harp supporters, including you, HAVE criticized Alderman Elicker on the basis of his skin color and gender (“angry white man syndrome”) and class (“Richie Rich”).
Harp is not just “indifferent” to problem gambling.
When asked to defend her under-the-radar vote to bring hundreds of Keno terminals to our State’s corner stores, Senator Harp made revolting, prejudiced remarks about people with a problem gambling disability—essentially saying that they had no hope of ever getting better.
According to most research, this issue disproportionately impacts the African-American communities that make up a large share of Senator Harp’s constituents. They should be outraged by her comments. She’s much worse than “indifferent.”
It was not my intention to offend you, but the facts are what they are ... and the facts stated in my comment are true. I note you did not take issue with any of the facts stated. But rather you are offended that I would “dare question (your) integrity”. Be that as it may, even an Eagle Scout is subject to challenge, and so are you. Those of you who attack and slander Sen Harp and her family (including her dead husband) are not immune from challenge over your own character and truthfulness issues. (I do not, however, stoop to speaking ill of the dead. That is a trait my parents would never allow me to develop.)
In your story you went to great lengths to stress that the Harp supporter was white and the Harp detractors were black. I assume that was for a reason, which so far has eluded me. If it were truly a story of “the Bad Union” vs the “New Paradigm of Government” then the race of the speakers would have been irrelevant and some relationship of the speakers to union membership or participation would have been stated. It was not. In fact, to me it appeared that the racial identities of the speakers was the main driving force behind your story.
With regard to Justin, when a person is raised as a Republican, in a staunch bastion of Republican economic power, is appointed to a position of power and prestige in perhaps the most corrupt and ideologically oppressive Republican regime in history, then pops up in New Haven and professes to be a democrat (first) and then an Independent (second), and has as the centerpiece of his platform a Tea Party tax cut, municipal service reduction agenda, then I do believe we are all remiss in not asking for greater clarity in what his real plans are.
posted by: Jonathan Hopkins on September 27, 2013 10:58am
“I’ve already taken the most important position that’s against what people want. I’m willing to say I won’t cut taxes in the short term.”
-Justin Elicker, August 28, 2013
His willingness to look for efficiencies in the Fire Department is based on data and best practices from other towns and cities. Harp on the other hand has said that, if anything, she would expand the Fire Department. When taxes get raised to pay for that you know who suffers the most, right? Low-income renters because their landlords raise rents to cover the taxes.
What isn’t clear about Elicker’s platform?
when a person is raised as a Republican, in a staunch bastion of Republican economic power, is appointed to a position of power and prestige in perhaps the most corrupt and ideologically oppressive Republican regime in history, then pops up in New Haven and professes to be
a democrat (first)...
Who are you referring to in the above quote? It is well documented that Harp’s campaign manager, Jason Bartlett, was a registered Republican before he showed up in New Haven running (and losing) campaigns for Democratic challengers. Was Justin a Republican too? Isn’t Jason from the same part of the state as Justin?
Q. What’s the difference between Redding and Canaan?
A. About 10 miles
I refer to the person that seeks to become my Mayor—Justin Elicker. If Justin were seeking to become a State Representative for the Redding area, I could care less how he was raised, what he believed in, and whether he served in the George Bush administration.
Razzie, do you have any evidence that Justin Elicker was raised as a Republican? What appointment? His was in effect a civil service job, not an appointment. As corrupt as Bush the Younger’s administration was, I would remind you that in the case of the Nixon Administration, both the President and Vice President were obliged to resign. While taxes are one of the New Haven Trifecta (along with crime and jobs), Justin Elicker has said he not support a tax cut at this time. The only way to reduce spending (and thus taxes or debt) is to reduce services or inefficiencies. I put it to you; he web site continues detailed, actionable plans.
At the end of the day, I opine that you have made this race about race more than any other member of the NHI Comentariat. I put it to you; you have offered no evidence to support the claims you have made in your posts here. I believe you do not sufficiently reflect upon what you write, nor what other people write.
Just bumped into Justin canvassing with Kermit and noted civil rights attorney Michael Jefferson on Bellevue. Do people really still think Elicker does not have the support of the black community?
Hhe and HewNaven
I didn’t make this election about race, Elicker’s “Fortress East Rock” strategy did. I only comment on what I see. If you look at the NHI election returns, Elicker’s geographic ward distribution of voters and donors, Elicker’s racial composition of his most vocal NHI commenters, and relative time spent canvassing in the various New Haven wards, you come away with the distinct impression that—at least leading up to the Primary—Elicker has waged a campaign that centers upon winning the white vote, at the expense of neglecting the black and Hispanic voting interests. Don’t hate me because I am the messenger ... you need to look at the source of the overall message being sent by the Elicker campaign.
It is only belatedly that Elicker has sought to interact with the predominantly black and Hispanic wards in any significant way. Walking with Kermit and Michael Jefferson in Ward 28 is a nice start, but could be viewed by many as cheap electioneering tactics of too little, too late. Why has it taken him so long to talk with black and Hispanic voters? Time will tell whether wards he has only now started interacting with will take his belated efforts seriously.
I am Hispanic and have lived in several of those wards Elicker has supposedly ignored, in your view, almost my entire life.
I also personally know many folks from all colors and backgrounds that are supporting Elicker based on issues and ideas and not on race.
I’ll add that Justin has been working on getting his vision for New Haven out to folks in Fair Haven since January, well before Toni Harp joined the campaign.
Two issues have led to the perceived lack of presence in certain wards that you speak of in my opinion:
1. Justin has elected to run a grassroots campaign which puts him at a serious disadvantage with the special interest money that funds Harp’s campaign. More money = more folks you can pay to get to.
2. Many folks in our neighborhoods are being bullied into voting for a candidate by self-appointed neighborhood “gatekeepers” who are suggesting folks vote, in block, for a candidate and are often following up their petitions by conversations based less on issues and more on name recognition and familiarity with a candidate. I’ve personally talked to many people who have, unprompted, confessed that they feel they have been asked to vote in block for a certain candidate but have not been explained why. I’ve also talked to non-white folks who feel they have been chided for considering a vote for someone other than the “obvious” candidate outside the polling stations on primary day. Some felt it was egregious to the point were they felt they were being hazed.
Lastly, I should say that I am not suggesting this is the case for everyone and these views are based on just my own personal experience.
Razzie, I believe you are confusing Strategic Goals with Operational Concept, and Tactical Method. (If so, you are in good company. Meany people do.)
Justin’s Strategic Goal: become Mayor to end pay-for-play, non-sustainable budgets, and make New Haven for all of New Haven.
Operational Concept: achieve a strong second place in the Primary, in order to be a candidate in the General election that people know can win.
Tactical Method: commit scant resources in areas that will produce the most results for those resources.
“The party of Roosevelt…” Which one…Teddy, the blithering racist, or Franklin, the creator of our modern welfare-state???
“Of Kennedy.” You mean the prolific womanizer who refused to support the Civil Rights Act???
“Of Obama.” The Divider-in-Chief who has left our nation riddled with debt.
Ms. Harp might want to choose her political idols a touch more wisely.