Yale Daily News

The New Haven Register’s editorial board — after previously endorsing Mayor Toni Harp’s primary election bid for a fourth term in the Elm City’s top office — announced its support for Democratic nominee Justin Elicker SOM ’10 FES ’10 on Sunday in New Haven’s upcoming general election.

In early September, the New Haven Register commended Elicker’s public service record but ultimately endorsed Harp, writing that she had put New Haven in an “enviable position” throughout her tenure as mayor. Just over one week later, Harp suffered a decisive primary defeat, losing to Elicker by 16 points. She subsequently suspended her campaign but remained on the November ballot on the Working Families Party line.

Two weeks ago, citing broad popular support since her suspension, Harp reignited her campaign without its robust primary election apparatus — she has not hired staff or engaged in other aspects of a traditional campaign. On Sunday, the New Haven Register told readers that it ought to be “time to move on” for Harp and announced its support for Elicker ahead of next week’s general election.

“Elicker was a strong candidate before the primary and he remains one today. He has talked extensively of two New Havens — one that has seen success brought by downtown growth, and another in the neighborhoods that have largely seen prosperity pass them by,” the Register’s endorsement reads. “As mayor, he will need to work hard to see that economic development works for everyone, not just newcomers downtown, but people who have lived their lives in every corner of the city.”

The Register touted Elicker’s string of prominent endorsements as well as his understanding of Yale’s relationship to New Haven. Elicker, the Register wrote, shares many residents’ view that the Elm City should be able to enjoy the benefits of the University’s presence without bearing heavy costs.

This endorsement represents a marked shift from the Register’s view in September. Before the primary election, its strong endorsement of Harp cited the mayor as a “trailblazer” who “guided the city in the right direction” despite several “mistakes and missteps.” In its Harp endorsement, the Register commended Elicker’s primary campaign efforts and ability to put Harp on the defensive. The paper also noted his concept of a tale of two cities but underscored that this criticism ignores “real gains” and is not unique to New Haven, but rather is common of many up-and-coming municipalities.

In its primary endorsement, the Register also acknowledged Elicker’s criticism of Harp’s personnel selection and demanded that Harp do a better job in her fourth term — which would provide her the opportunity to improve. Now, the Register does not hold the view that Harp should have a fourth term at all, and has instead come out in favor of the Democratic nominee.

In an interview with the News, Elicker expressed his gratitude for the Register’s endorsement and suggested that his significant public support may have influenced the Register’s shift in endorsement stance.

“The overwhelming majority of Democrats voted for our campaign in the primary, and that indicated that New Haven residents are ready for new leadership,” Elicker said.

After his decisive primary victory in an election that seemed like it would be too close to call, Elicker become the race’s front-runner, amassing public support from primary Harp supporters and elected officials representing the Elm City and the Nutmeg State, including longtime U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro and Senators Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal. In their respective endorsements, New Haven’s three representatives in Washington all commended Elicker’s vision for the future of the Elm City. At an event earlier this month, Murphy praised Elicker for “engaging people in every corner of the city and bringing them into the political process.”

The general election will be held next week on Tuesday, Nov. 5. New Haven voters must register by mail, online or in person by Tuesday, Oct. 29. Voters who are unable to register by tomorrow’s deadline may be able to register in person on election day.

Mackenzie Hawkins | mackenzie.hawkins@yale.edu