Earlier this month, mayoral candidate Marcus Paca said he planned to run as an independent in the Nov. 7 general election if he lost the Democratic primary. But since Paca’s overwhelming defeat at the hands of incumbent Mayor Toni Harp in last Tuesday’s primary, his comments concerning his plans for November have been less clear and, at times, contradictory.
Regarding whether or not he planned to run in the general election, Paca said in an email to the News on Sunday that he was meeting with his staff and supporters to determine their next steps. The next day, he said he would likely release a statement concerning his plans no later than Tuesday. But as of press time Tuesday evening, Paca had not made such an announcement.
Paca wrote in an email Tuesday evening that he would soon make a public announcement about his plans for November. Eight minutes later, in response to a question asking specifically whether he would run again, he wrote that he would make an announcement “when the time is right” and that it would likely be posted online.
“Change of strategy,” he wrote. “I’m not spending time interviewing. I’m connecting with voters.” Paca added that he hoped Yale students would visit his website and get involved in his campaign.
Despite the lack of clarity from the candidate, some of his supporters are optimistic about his campaign prospects. According to Eric Mastroianni, Paca’s personal friend, Paca said he was set on running as an independent when the two met last Tuesday at the post-election celebratory rally. After losing to Harp by a nearly three-to-one margin, Paca’s efforts should be centered around encouraging voter turnout and increasing his visibility in the Elm City neighborhoods, Mastroianni added.
“He came a long way, and people didn’t expect him to do as well,” he said. “He needs to take the data and figure out why no one came out to the polls. So whoever gets elected, they have to restore the faith in their office, no matter what office is in questions.”
Mastroianni also denied that Paca’s campaign was motivated by revenge — Paca and his wife Mendi Blue Paca are currently suing the mayor’s office for wrongful discharge from their city government positions — and said his advice to Paca is to stay positive and focused on his platform.
Jesse Phillips, Harp’s campaign manager, said the Harp campaign knows no more about Paca’s intentions than anyone else.
“Besides continuing to govern the city, right now the mayor and the campaign team are trying to assess whether Marcus is even going to follow through and run in November,” Phillips said.
Phillips said the Harp campaign has not been as active since the mayor’s victory last Tuesday. But he said activity will pick up again once Paca announces his plans.
Harp’s supporters tout her longtime experience with lawmaking and public service, which is considerably more comprehensive than that of Paca, who served one term as an alder and served as the city’s labor relations director before he was fired by Harp in 2016. Haci Catalbasoglu ’19, who is running for Ward 1 alder, also praised the mayor for her commitment to New Haven’s sanctuary city status, a major point of contention in the mayoral debate between Paca and Harp on Sept. 6.
“I am proud to support her in her re-election campaign so she can keep the city moving forward,” said Catalbasoglu, who officially endorsed Harp last week. “I’m proud to stand with someone who shares my commitment to improving our community and ensuring that Yale and New Haven thrive because of each other, with a deeper, more meaningful relationship between our city and our school.”
A total of 7,407 votes were cast in last Tuesday’s primary elections.
Amy Cheng | firstname.lastname@example.org | @Amy_23_Cheng
Jon Greenberg | email@example.com | @JonGreenbergYDN