Hartford—A young labor organizer pulled off a surprisingly strong show of support in her bid for lieutenant governor, spurred on in no small part by a New Haven politician’s emotional endorsement of her candidacy.
Although Susan Bysiewicz secured the nomination, during Saturday’s state Democratic Party nominating convention at the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford, Eva Bermudez Zimmerman received nearly 40 percent of the delegate vote in her quest for the lieutenant governer’s seat. Before the vote, Bermudez Zimmerman received an impassioned second to her nomination by New Haven State Sen. Gary Winfield. New Haven delegates ultimately gave 86 out of their 100 votes to Bermudez Zimmerman.
Bermudez Zimmerman, a 30-year-old labor organizer with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) in Newtown, garnered a total of 758 delegate votes. The Hartford-born Puerto Rican received more than 15 percent of the vote and has therefore qualified for the August Democratic Party primary.
Bysiewicz, a former state representative from Middletown and a former secretary of the state who dropped her bid for governor earlier this month to join gubernatorial candidate Ned Lamont as his lieutenant governor teammate, earned 1,123 delegate votes, or 59 percent of the total vote. Charles Stallworth, a third candidate for lieutenant governor who is a minister from Bridgeport, received only 22 votes, or 1.16 percent.
Bermudez Zimmerman, who opened an exploratory campaign for secretary of the state in February before switching to the lieutenant governor’s race several weeks later, received a swell of support from New Haven politicos hungry for a more diverse ticket after Lamont chose Bysiewicz, who is white, as his running mate.
“I’m young,” Zimmerman Bermudez told the Independent after the vote. “I have energy, and I have also spent the past decade organizing around progressive issues.” She said that she was proud to represent millennials and diverse groups on the ticket.
In her acceptance speech for the party’s endorsement, Bysiewicz also referenced the importance of upholding diversity as a core value of the party, particularly in the face of a Republican Party that she said was more committed to corruption, cronyism, conservatism, injustice, and entrenched inequality than raising the quality of life for everyone in the state.
“We need a strong, unified, diverse ticket,” she said.
Although Bermudez Zimmerman did not address the convention from the stage as she did not win the party endorsement, she did receive one of the more talked about speeches at the convention as delivered by Winfield in his seconding of her nomination.
“Who we are is as important as anything else in this party,” Winfield said to start.
He said that his wife recently gave birth to twins, and that he wanted to help create a political reality for those “two little black kids” in which they could aspire to the highest reaches of government not just because people say so, but because they see people who look like them actually in those roles.
With tears streaming down his face, he recalled how he and his first wife scraped by during his six-year stint in the U.S. Navy. She was attending law school. He recalled the jars of pennies, dimes and quarters that he carefully collected each week to make sure they had enough money to pay for the bare necessities. When he had collected $60, he said, he could breathe a small sigh of relief, at least for a week.
Bermudez Zimmerman, he said, knew the crunch that working-class families feel to pay for a roof over one’s head and food on the table. He recognized that she is young, but commended her for her years of connecting with and understanding the challenges faced by working families through her work as a union organizer.
“When I went up on stage,” Winfield said after his speech, “I knew I was going to put my whole self into it.”
He said it was time for the state party to match its reality with its rhetoric. He said he had spoken to a number of people at the convention who had arrived planning to vote for Bysiewicz and left voting for Bermudez Zimmerman.
Bermudez Zimmerman received an additional rousing second to her nomination from Norma Rodriguez-Reyes, the chair of the state’s Hispanic Democratic Caucus and the New Haven-based publisher of the Spanish-language weekly, La Voz Hispana. Rodriguez-Reyes also singled out the significance of nominating Bermudez Zimmerman to serve as the party’s first-ever Hispanic statewide candidate.
“Eva is a woman,” Rodriguez-Reyes said. “She is a millennial. She is a union organizer. Most importantly, she is a qualified Latina woman.”
Rodriguez-Reyes said when she ran for secretary of the state back in 2006, she called on the party to include a Hispanic nominee on the statewide ticket. On Saturday afternoon, over a decade later, she echoed that same sentiment.
“We have been very loyal to the party,” she said. “And we will continue to be. But we need to be included.”
It’s time for CT to honor its diversity. Eva, you are us - the working class people of CT. We need a government in CT that represents ALL the people, not just the 1%. It’s time.
posted by: Noteworthy on May 19, 2018 9:02pm
1. One must appreciate the drama of the Dems as they ponder voting for skin tone over competence.
2. As for Sen. Winfield - the reality of a POC in the top levels of government is already a reality and has been for decades. The treasurer is one of a handful of executive officers and oversee billions of dollars in Connecticut. It is no small job. But we’ve had a black man as president, a black man on the U.S. Supreme Court for decades, a Latina there too - we’ve had black and Hispanic senators and congressmen; a black Sec of State - twice, a black as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs.
To pretend - with tears no less - that a junior position as LG to a white man, is somehow an accomplishment here in CT, a demonstration no less that diversity is alive, that such a nomination is somehow is an accomplishment proof positive of such magnitude, that it proves to Winfield’s children years from now that it is not a concept but a reality, is shocking. Could it be that Winfield is ignorant of these positions of which I speak? Does his reality only extend to the state house? To Hartford?
How can one speak of diversity and not recognize the great strides that people of color have made? How can one only look to blacks and Hispanics as the POC and ignore the skin tones of other nationalities? Does Winfield think for one moment that those of other nationalities tie their place in the world, their ability to be and to accomplish whatever they want or dream is tied to seeing somebody who looks like them in some position of government power? The very thought is absurd and frankly insulting.
In Winfield’s world - my mixed race children will never believe in diversity or their ability to achieve because nobody that looks like them has been governor, LG, any executive officer in this state or even nominated or supported in a local or state election. That idea is preposterous.
posted by: Mooks on May 19, 2018 9:51pm
I feel like this is a no-win situation for Ned. If Bysiewicz wins it may alienate the urban Democratics, of which he needs a big turnout, because of the whiteness of the ticket. If Eva wins a lot of the white moderates in the suburbs are going to be scared off by having another prominent union member in the upper levels of state government in addition to Speaker Joe. Considering the animosity many in the suburbs have towards the unions as they pertain to our budget problem I think Ned is hoping that urban Democrats just hold their noses and vote for him and Susan.
posted by: BevHills730 on May 19, 2018 10:42pm
posted by: robn on May 20, 2018 6:59am
I was wondering how long into this election we’d have to wait until Gary turned on the water works. CT residents should keep in mind that the primary reason why the state is near bankruptcy (Something it can’t legally declare as a state) is because of the extraordinarily generous public pensions and benefits. This is due entirely to the fact that the state government has been captive to those unions for decades now. A democratic ticket with a union organizer isn’t supportable and candidates who don’t propose a definitive plan (not just rhetoric) to this crisis are unsupportable.
posted by: 06511 on May 20, 2018 10:00am
“Does Winfield think for one moment that those of other nationalities tie their place in the world, their ability to be and to accomplish whatever they want or dream is tied to seeing somebody who looks like them in some position of government power? The very thought is absurd and frankly insulting.”
Have you met white people?
posted by: 1644 on May 20, 2018 10:34am
A quote from Bermudez Zimmerman, when she was running for state rep from Newtown:
Note: Newtown’s First Selectman is a Democrat, so Democrats can win there.
posted by: AliceB on May 20, 2018 10:48am
“I’m young…I have energy…” Is Eva for real? Does she not hear herself??? Is she aware of the fact that most voters are not “young” yet do have “energy.” perhaps more than she??? I am going to make sure I register as a Democrat before the primary so I can cast my vote for Susan, whom I do not “love” but respect much more for her experience, her “age” and her class. It isn’t about “diversity” it is about competence, experience and ability. In all honesty, after reading the ramblings of Eva I weep for the future. She lacks discernment and for that she will alienate many, many voters.
posted by: Razzie on May 20, 2018 1:27pm
Congrats and hats off to all the candidates who took the time and effort to participate in the nominating convention. When it comes to “DIVERSITY”, I see the glass as being half full…
In terms of inclusiveness, results of this Dem state convention are perhaps the most inclusive in the history of the party. In each of the contested statewide races other than governor, each presents a viable choice for election of a POC and/or woman. • Lt. Gov. – Bysiewicz, Bermudez Zimmerman, Stallworth • Atty Gen’l – Tong • Treasurer – Wooden, Bharava, Arulampalam
Of the 7 included candidates moving into the primary their race/ethnicity and gender are: 2 African American, 3 women, 1 Puerto Rican, 1 Asian, 1 Indian and 1 Sri Lankan. I would have loved to see an AA among the serious contenders for Governor, however circumstances did not afford any available candidates. Frankly, it’s difficult to imagine a more inclusive primary contest than the one we are facing in August.
Partisan rhetoric aside, I think the 169 town committees did a commendable job of presenting a group of candidates that will reflect a broad background of cultures and competencies. I salute Eva Bermudez Zimmerman for her surprising showing of support at the convention. Her relative lack of experience will get tested on the campaign trail. If she survives and happens to win the primary, there should be little doubt among the general public that her time is now. Otherwise, the supporters of candidates who failed to get the convention’s endorsement should know that this is a win – win situation for the party… an excellent cast to choose from.
posted by: LivingInNewHaven on May 20, 2018 2:23pm
Learn a lesson from New Haven!! Having Union Puppets in prime governing positions results in a selfish union agenda. She would be governed by the union not her constituents. I will not be voting for her. I commend Gary for speaking for diversity and change, but she ain’t the one. We need someone who will be for the people with no hidden master in the wings.
posted by: 1644 on May 20, 2018 3:20pm
Razzie: Are Indians and Sri Lankans not Asian? As I recall the movement from “oriental” to Asian as a racial category, one justification was that “orientals’ were commonly thought of as “yellow” people i.e., Chinese and Japanese, , while post 1965 US was gaining immigrants from a broader swatch of Asia, including Indonesia, Malaysia, and India. (The other reason, of course, was that “oriental”, like eastern, is Eurocentric.)
Aside from race, the danger for Democrats is that they nominate a slate that is too far left, driving unaffiliated and moderate Democrats to vote Republican. An Asian, woman investment banker may find a stronger following among unaffiliated voters than a lawyer who carries Hartford bail-out baggage. Moreover, outside of Susan B, have any of these candidates demonstrated an ability to win outside of a Democrat stronghold? I note that Dita get creamed in a state rep race, as did Eva.
posted by: 1644 on May 20, 2018 4:17pm
Living: Lieutenant Governor is a full-time position, at least in theory, so presumably Eva would quit her union job. In contrast, Joe A2z and the New haven Alders are literally on the union payroll. The Alders in particular earn little from their elected positions relative to what the unions pay them.
posted by: Ex-HVN on May 20, 2018 7:03pm
I was a delegate in Hartford this weekend and watched the Eva Bermudez Zimmerman phenomenon unfold. Many delegates, including me, voted for her because we believe in welcoming all interested candidates into the races. That said, she had far more support than she will get in the August primary. The convention was about horsetrading by delegates and Town Committee members and elected officials. The election is among registered Democrats.
The consensus of those delegates I spoke with and Dems I was with at 2 events today in the Bridgeport area is that Eva is far too young and inexperienced for this office. She has no elected government experience. Unlike a freshman legislator, the Lt Gov has to be able to take over running the state government on a moments notice. We saw this with the death of Ella Grasso and the rise of Gov Bill O’Neill, and the conviction of Disgraced Republican Gov. John Rowland and his replacement M. Jody Rell. O’Neill and Rell were experienced mature legislators who knew how the state government works and could command respect upon being sworn in. CT can’t afford to have someone this young and inexperienced as Lt. Governor.
Before Ned Lamont offered the position to Susan B, he offered it to two mature, experienced African Americans from big cities. Both Mayor Toni Harp of New Haven and State Senator Marilyn Moore of Bridgeport turned down the offer. Lamont should not be malign for then choosing a third female who happens to be white.
posted by: Razzie on May 20, 2018 8:41pm
With help from Google…
Asian: A person having origins in any of the original peoples of the Far East, Southeast Asia, or the Indian subcontinent including, for example, Cambodia, China, India, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippine Islands, Thailand, and Vietnam. http://www.iowadatacenter.org/aboutdata/raceclassification And …
“Sri Lankan is a national identity rather than an ethnic identity. Within Sri Lanka there are multiple ethnic groups such as Sinhalese, Tamil, Burgher (Eurasian), Malay, Arab-Ceylonese, Persian-Ceylonese and so forth. The vast majority are either Sinhalese followed by Tamils. Sinhalese themselves are a mixture of various migrant groups, some from South Asian subcontinent, some from South East Asia, some from West Asia which intermingled with each other over the last 3000 years to form an unique Sinhalese culture, language and identity… https://www.quora.com/Are-Sri-Lankans-Indian
It is not a deep dive, but in our context I mean for it to be a cultural and national origin classification, each very separate and distinct.
The central point of my comment, however, is that we should welcome the August primary as a “proving ground” for the competing candidates and their platforms. Each one has supporters and detractors. In theory, the strongest and best candidate will survive. Democracy at its finest, and a far better way to settle on party standard bearers than the back-room dealing and horse trading that all the candidates tried to win at. In the face of a difficult race in the November general election, there should be no color quota, or particular position reserved for a black/brown candidate. Each position needs to carry its own weight for the Dem ticket to survive. I don’t believe my children’s life prospects will change if they don’t get a black/brown Lt. Governor in CT on Nov. 6th. We may, however, fare much worse as a society if CT turns red and joins the Trump cavalcade.
posted by: wesunidad on May 20, 2018 9:03pm
Wow! Reading all those anti-union comments was a joy!
Are unions really that powerful? News to me AND I was a union organizer for many years.
Anyway, who wants (union) people who earn a living wage, who get benefits so they don’t have to go on the dole, who can afford to own a house, who can afford to care for their children? And, yes, let’s take away all those benefits that they earned over the years. That’s the problem with the State budget!
Let’s get rid of those unions and those union people. They have it so much better than the rest of us. Why? Because they fought for their contracts and won what they got by organizing, not by buying derivatives and stocks.
Instead, let’s promote, kneel down and praise the 1% and the corporate elites who are laughing at working people all the way to the bank with their great, great great tax gift from the Republicans.
Capitalism. Gotta love it!
posted by: JDoe on May 21, 2018 5:22am
@ wesunidad - You’re spot on. All the anti-union posters are curiously silent about the tax cut that has siphoned public budgets into the pockets of the wealthy (and has not “trickled down” like they always promise it will). The truth is union power lessens the wealth gap, “tax cuts” increase it. Unions are chump change compared to the $1.5 trillion Republican give-away to the rich - consider a million seconds is 12 days, a billion seconds is 31.7 years - a trillion seconds amounts to 31,709.8 years so ya unions are the problem. See 3/5s many posts on how NY competently runs their pension funds.
posted by: robn on May 21, 2018 6:05am
Corporate America isn’t strangling the state of CT (and Illinois for that matter) or the city of New Haven. Union dominated legislatures are.
posted by: robn on May 21, 2018 8:22am
For the record I support a progressive income tax. CTs problems are its own and a result of many years of irresponsible legislatures held captive by public sector unions. But don’t believe me; scroll through the list of public pensions and see how long it takes you to sink under 6 digits.
We (income) tax about the same as surrounding states but are severely in debt. CT has a spending problem and new haven is one of its collateral victims, with anachronistic and unconstitutional legislation like the abolition of county govt and property tax exemption for non profits.
posted by: Babz Rawls Ivy on May 21, 2018 10:09am
I am EXCITED for Sister Eva! She will be an excellent Lt. Governor!
posted by: JDoe on May 21, 2018 10:54am
Robn - I too am sane and support progressive taxation but disagree that “irresponsible legislatures (are) held captive by public sector unions.” Legislatures are much more controlled by wealthy interests than they are unions. Watch how the Supreme Court will roll back even more union rights and further embolden the 1%. Btw did you know that ctsunlight.org is run by the Yankee Institute - a right wing, “free market” pro-wealth gap, anti-government, anti-union think tank? I noticed they don’t say anything about the immense welfare that corporations receive from the public but then again what else would one expect from a corporate think tank?
posted by: 1644 on May 21, 2018 11:16am
Wes: Unions only work in a closed labor system. The UAW worked when all the US auto manufacturers had the same contract. When the US manufacturers had to compete with non-UAW foreign companies, they bagan their slow descent into bankruptcy. The airlines suffered a similar fate: all the legacy airlines went bankrupt, some many times, after the market was deregulated. Thus, with open markets, we have few private sector unions. Most of the union workforce is with non-competitive employers, employers who cannot easily move to a new location. In CT, that means the State, towns, Yale, and defense employers like EB. Thus, we have an ever smaller private sector supporting a unchanging or growing public sector. Hartford tried to protect homeowners with suburban like tax rates while socking it to commercial properties. The result has been a shrinking Grand List and insolvency. The state is facing a similar fate. While the national economy is growing well, our CT’s economy is shrinking and we are losing jobs, all as the wealthier leave and poor move in.
posted by: 1644 on May 21, 2018 11:21am
Callisto: What social spending has been cut due to the tax cuts? The latest federal budget is filled with goodies for the Democrats. To the extent the tax cuts will reduce revenue, the gap will be filled with debt, not spending cuts.
posted by: 1644 on May 21, 2018 11:45am
Razzie: Okay, without a deep dive, labeling Tong as Chinese rather than simply Asian would have been more appropriate, but then we are just posting unedited, largely spontaneous thoughts. You seem to be one of the few here, or at the convention, with their eyes on the prize: winning. While a Susan B might not be as good for New Haven as a Winfield or Zimmerman, Susan would certainly be better than Joe Markley or the Darien woman. The Republican delegates all were willing to compromise their ideals for electability. Boughton and Stewart highlighted their ability to win in Democrat dominated cities. Herbst and Linares pushed how they had won seats long filled by Democrats. Perhaps, once again, we Republicans will snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, but we are trying not to. In contrast, Josh Elliot, who has pushed to oust swing district Democrats, recently posted that he was hoping to retain either the Senate or House, insinuating that the Governor’s race was a lost cause.
posted by: robn on May 21, 2018 1:59pm
It doesn’t matter if a conservative think tank published those numbers….those are the numbers; they’re real.
PS you’re conflating national tax policy (your corporate influence bugaboo) with state tax policy. The State of Connecticut doesn’t have an income problem, it has a spending problem and a structural problem in that it’s unconstitutionally underfunding it’s cities via non profit property tax exemption.
posted by: wesunidad on May 21, 2018 2:06pm
Wow! We have a union dominated legislature? Terrific! I’d much rather have that than a CORPORATE dominated legislature which is where we are headed. Private, private, private.
If we have a problem at work, who do we call, Exon Mobile? Is it possible that we will see the likes of Exon Mobil, and other corporate giants (who run our life) on the ballot someday soon? Great!
If you hate the idea of working people having power in Hartford, you must be unhappy about the surge of millions of low wage workers who have to work two jobs to barely make it and who understand that it is only through joining a union that they will have any power whatsoever over the capitalists who are exploiting their labor.
If you recall it was those terrible, communist unions in the 1930s that got us the 8-hour day, unemployment, social security and so much more. I would rather work in a union work place even if I didn’t get along with the leadership.
Why? Because I prefer job security instead instead of genuflecting to the capitalist class for crumbs and because I deserve a living wage (in CT in 2014 a living wage was around $20.00/hour for one person), and a place at the table to air my grievances.
People who are against unions are just jealous because they know they deserve all the things that union workers earn and receive.
Timothy Snyder, the Yale historian once said that history does not repeat itself, but it does instruct.
Who except unions could organize 75,000 (mostly women) teachers and others to a rally in Arizona to demand better schools for working class kids? Not Betsy DeVos that’s for sure! Unions did this in West Virginia, Texas and Colorado too. The only power the working class has is in the power of the union. When the bottom is raised up, all of us go up. Hello?
Crack open a history book and you will learn that, historically, unions are the only defense we have against fascism.
Can fascism happen here? What do you think?
posted by: Razzie on May 21, 2018 3:54pm
Sorry, but I’m only going by what Tong uses to describe his ethnicity ...
“Tong told the nearly 2,000 delegates that for the first time the Democratic Party nominated an Asian-American for a statewide office.
This is about winning, and not about feeling good for the moment. I still feel that it is the Dems race to lose. And the most certain way to lose it is to move so fat to the left that not enough people follow. Or, as a corollary, to present candidates that can represent only a sliver of the popular interests represented throughout the state.
For the record, I consider ESC v. Lewis to be abhorrent as well because it denies a right to a clear and unbiased legal process. This is quite unlike the underhanded behavior of our CT legislature and our NHV Alders putting on a public front of being unbiased, while they are working for a very narrowly defined special interests; those being State, Municipal, and Yale unions.
posted by: wesunidad on May 22, 2018 8:17am
Yale should not be taxed because then what would New Haven do with all that green stuff? Better public schools for everyone, and not just the few chosen for special projects (like taking a few kids to China) Yale creates for their “do good” image? Improved infrastructure? Low cost loans to encourage local businesses? Higher salaries for the people who actually run Yale (their unionized workforce)? Solar panels for all new construction? More windmills?
There is plenty of non-profits taxable property in the State of CT. Recently I asked a legislator at the Capitol why not tax the rich, and he said to me, “Oh, we can’t tax the rich, honey, otherwise, they’ll all move out of the State? Yale move? Heard that one before.
But, if CT needs more money from property tax, why don’t the legislatures make Yale pay their fair share for the acres and acres of tax free land they occupy in New Haven? Why are they so afraid of doing this?
Anyway, Yale knows how to control this issue and they have the money and power to do it. They seem confident that the CT Legislature will leave them alone and that New Haven is content with charity.
Here’s what THEY think…
“The most important contribution Yale can make to Connecticut is to continue what we have done for two decades in close partnership with New Haven — to strengthen neighborhoods, improve educational opportunity for students in New Haven schools, and cultivate new bioscience companies as well as retail establishments that add jobs, draw visitors to New Haven, and expand the tax base,” Richard Jacob, Yale’s associate vice president for federal and state relations, stated in testimony on behalf of Yale. “The proposed taxes on Yale would diminish the university’s ability to carry out its charitable mission and to enable and support growth in New Haven.” - ‘Yale News”, March 31, 2016.
posted by: robn on May 22, 2018 9:57am
The tax exemption is a creature of the State of Connecticut, not Yale and therefore, I believe that the State of CT (not Yale) is responsible for reimbursing the residents of New Haven for lost tax revenue; I feel that the State’s tax exemption so grossly affects cities who host such organization that it violates the Equal Protection Clause of the US and CT Constitutions.
posted by: 1644 on May 22, 2018 10:59am
Razzie: You seem to be one of the few clear-headed people on the Left. The problem with primaries for both parties is that they tend to pull candidates away from the center. However awful the Republican primary contenders may seem to Democrats, I can assure you that the goal of many delegates was to keep Lumaj off the primary ballot, the fear being that he could win a plurality in a multi-candidate race. The whole purpose of conventions, and superdelegates, is to allow the professionals, those who actually know how to win elections, to select a candidate who can appeal to the center voter. The Democratic convention seems to have done the opposite, and pulled the party left.
posted by: wesunidad on May 22, 2018 11:47am
Robin….Yes, I understand and stated that the reason Yale does not pay taxes is because of legislation at the State level. That needs to change. Why don’t our legislators do the right thing for the people instead of coddling the rich for a change? Because in order to make Yale (and other institutions like it) pay their fair share, we need a mass movement making that demand. For starters, would a million people camped out on the Capitol lawn with that demand or a few thousand on some of the legislator’s lawns make that happen? Who knows? What you said was spot on.
posted by: Razzie on May 22, 2018 12:38pm
There’s nothing wrong with being pulled left. I believe in the progressive agenda. So to me, it’s a good thing that Ned Lamont and Susan B (the likely primary winners) will be pulled left by Eva. They just have to take care not to go so far left that they fall off the cliff.