A week after falling in the Democratic primary for mayor, incumbent Toni Harp still has not announced her plans for the general election and beyond.
On Sept. 10, Harp lost to challenger Justin Elicker FES’10, SOM’10 in a decisive vote at the polls. Harp, who has served three two-year terms in City Hall and boasts a three-decade career in electoral politics representing New Haven, has not yet announced whether she will continue her reelection bid as a third-party candidate and face off with Elicker again on the general election ballot. Her primary campaign manager, Ed Corey, left the campaign on Monday night, and no new leadership or direction has been announced to the public.
On Monday, Harp met with close supporters and campaign operatives at her campaign headquarters at 50 Fitch St. The closed door meeting did not yield any decision on whether Harp will continue her campaign, instead serving as an opportunity to discuss options with supporters and advisers, according to the New Haven Independent.
“My departure has nothing to do with the mayor or any decision she may or may not make,” Corey told the New Haven Independent after the meeting on Monday. “We left on good terms and I wish her the best whatever she decides to do.”
Harp was the Democratic Party’s endorsed candidate and also picked up the endorsement of the Working Families Party, a progressive, pro-labor party that recently endorsed Elizabeth Warren in the 2020 presidential election. In an interview with the New Haven Independent, leadership of the Working Families Party of Connecticut said that although Harp will remain their candidate on the ballot line, the party will not be devoting resources or support to Harp should she take up the option of running against Elicker in the general. Lindsay Farrell, the party’s statewide director, said the party would instead focus on important races elsewhere in Connecticut.
Andrea Scott, who has taken time off from her normal post as the mayor’s executive assistant to serve as the Harp campaign’s deputy treasurer, told the News on Tuesday that she did not have a comment on whether Harp would run in the general election as the Working Families Party candidate. According to Scott, the mayor was still weighing her options.
Elicker bested Harp by approximately 2,000 votes at the polls last week, claiming 58 percent of the votes to Harp’s 42 percent. Originally, the Elicker campaign had planned a Democratic unity event with other Democratic politicians from New Haven and Connecticut, including Gov. Ned Lamont as well as members of the New Haven delegation of the state legislature, for late last week. The event has since been postponed indefinitely. Elicker told the News that Harp “deserves the time and space to make her own decision on whether to run,” citing her long career in public service.
Harp’s decision on whether to run again comes after her first electoral loss in her 32-year political career. Once one of the city’s most popular, prominent politicians, she served on the Board of Alders before serving two decades as a state legislator. Her appointments included serving as co-chair of the powerful appropriations committee, which decides on funding questions.
Harp beat out Elicker in 2013 in a crowded Democratic primary field, and then triumphed again when Elicker ran unaffiliated in the general election. She easily picked up second and third terms, but struggled to defend her mayoral legacy over the past two years after coming under fire for scandals in her administration.
In the week leading up to the primary election, the Elicker campaign emptied its six-figure coffers into a final fundraising push. Should the battle between Harp and Elicker rage on, both candidates will have to dive into fundraising again to finance operations for the next month and a half before the general election. Elicker’s camp has already planned a general election kickoff for next Monday, and has sent out an email soliciting further campaign contributions from supporters.
The general election is on Nov. 5.
Angela Xiao | firstname.lastname@example.org