Three days before voters head to the polls, mayoral candidate Toni Harp Saturday dispatched 300 volunteers across the city, targeting 11,000 voters her campaign has identified as likely supporters.
Her campaign gave those numbers Saturday, as Harp led an exuberant get-out-the-vote rally at her campaign headquarters at 560 Whalley Ave.
The effort represents a last push before Tuesday’s Democratic primary, where Harp faces three candidates—Kermit Carolina, Justin Elicker and Henry Fernandez—for the party nomination for the mayor’s seat. Harp has emerged as the front-runner of the race, building the largest campaign treasure chest and racking up by far the most endorsements, including from several major unions that are lending her campaign troops.
The campaigns have shifted to get-out-the-vote mode in the final countdown to Tuesday’s primary.
“Because of all of you, I smell victory in the air,” declared Harp (pictured) Saturday.
She spoke to a crowd of over 75 people gathered on the sidewalk outside her headquarters. Harp spent several minutes thanking those who have come together around her campaign, including elected officials from around the city—such as State Sen. Martin Looney, State Rep. Toni Walker, Fair Haven Alderwoman Migdalia Castro, city/town clerk candidate and Alderman Mike Smart, and state Rep. Juan Candelaria—and representatives from major unions.
“Look around you. We’ve become a big family. We’ve come from all across the city of New Haven. We have united for one purpose. And that purpose is Toni Harp,” remarked Candelaria, yelling at the top of his lungs over the sound of traffic going by.
Click on the play arrow at the top of the arrow to watch his and Harps’ remarks.
“We’ve identified over 11,000 supporters of Toni Harp in this city,” announced Harp field director Michael Harris Saturday. “Today, we start bringing them to the polls.”
He urged those gathered to “get out on the streets” and “bring this home for Toni.”
Harp’s campaign manager, Jason Bartlett (pictured), said an estimated over 300 volunteers would be working for Harp over the weekend, about half of those are affiliated with unions that have endorsed Harp. Their goal is to put door-hangers on 11,000 doors of people who have been identified as likely Harp supporters, he said—as well as to speak to other people in those households who might be sympathetic to Harp.
In some wards, the door-hangers promote local aldermanic candidates. Bartlett said the campaign is promoting Maureen Gardner in Ward 19, Aaron Greenberg in Ward 8, as well as all the incumbent aldermen who have endorsed Harp.
Bartlett estimated 18,000 of the city’s 48,000 registered Democrats would come out to vote Tuesday. He said the campaign’s challenge will be to get as many of the likely Harp supporters out to the polls.
“It’s one thing for someone to say they’re for you. It’s another thing for them to get up in the morning and vote,” he said.
The crowd drew representatives from unions like AFSCME Council 4, the American Federation of Teachers, and SEIU 32BJ. Rochelle Palache, SEIU’s statewide political organizer, said five to 10 members of 32BJ would be knocking on doors for Harp this weekend and on Primary Day.
Former Aldermanic President Tomás Reyes and Frank Alvarado (pictured left and center with Clifton Graves), both of whom have left New Haven but are still active Latino politicos here, huddled over the Primary-Day operation they’ll be running in Fair Haven, along with Castro.
Harp gave a special shout-out to two former mayoral candidates who have joined her team: state Rep. Gary Holder-Winfield (pictured taking photos) ...
... and Newhallville plumber Sundiata Keitazulu. Keitazulu (pictured) wore a bright red shirt that read, “Kicks on Fire.” He pledged to wear down his shoes knocking on doors for Harp this weekend.
“I’ve got my walking clothes on,” he said.
Sandy Green (pictured) served up hot dogs on a sidewalk grill, then took a moment to dance to Harp’s theme song, Girl on Fire by Alicia Keys. The lyrics—“She’s just a girl and she’s on fire”—refer to Harp’s quest to become the city’s first female mayor.
Ricardo Chardon (pictured), who works for Harp’s son’s business, Renaissance Management, signed up Saturday to knock on doors for Harp.
“It’s time for New Haven to have a female touch,” he said, “someone who can really sympathize with what New Haven needs.”
After Saturday’s rally finished around noon, Harp headed out for a day of public appearances at festivals and sporting events around town. All four candidates appeared to be on a similar circuit, making plans to stop by neighborhood festivals in Trowbridge Square and Chatham Square, a folk festival at Edgerton Park, a youth day on Edgewood, and a Pop Warner football tournament.
Justin Elicker (pictured) stopped by the Wooster Square farmers market to talk to voters. He tried to persuade one undecided voter to join his side, then took down the house number of a public-school teacher, Paul Jones of High School in the Community, who agreed to put up a lawn sign in his Morris Cove home.
Elicker said he already held a rally for campaign volunteers on Thursday at his headquarters on Whalley Avenue. He declined to say how many volunteers his campaign has secured, nor the number of likely supporters he has identified.
Fernandez planned to hold a get-out-the-vote rally on his front porch Sunday in Fair Haven. Spokeswoman Danielle Filson said the campaign has secured “hundreds” of volunteers to knock on doors and distribute door-hangers over the weekend. She also declined to estimate the number of likely supporters.
Carolina, who has the smallest campaign treasure chest, said he did not plan any door-to-door activity on the weekend.
“We’re done with door-to-door. We’re going to where large groups of people are,” he said, reached by phone between visits to football games. He planned to assemble his volunteers Sunday morning at his headquarters to strategize about getting out the vote on Primary Day.