Mia Cortés Castro, Staff Photographer

Incumbent mayor Justin Elicker won the Democratic mayoral primary Tuesday night, crushing challenger Liam Brennan with over 70 percent of the primary votes.

In total, 5,176 New Haven Democrats supported Elicker’s nomination, while 2,176 cast ballots for Brennan. Elicker received the majority of the votes in all of New Haven’s thirty wards. 

The incumbent will now proceed to the general election on Nov. 7 as the Democratic nominee, additionally endorsed by the Working Families Party. In the general election, Elicker is being challenged by Republican-endorsed mayoral candidate Tom Goldenberg.

“These things cannot be done alone, and let’s be clear about that today,” said Elicker. “This wasn’t just a victory. But we got bigger. We got over 70 percent of Democrats that voted today supporting this campaign. That is a huge, huge feat. We can only persevere if we do so together. And because we have worked not just today, but for the past four years together.”

Walking into his election afterparty at BAR New Haven on Crown Street with his wife and daughters, Elicker enthusiastically waved and thanked people on his way to deliver his victory speech. The room of approximately 100 people included alders Kampton Singh, Eli Sabin, Ellen Cupo and Ron Hurt, as well as members of Local 34, New Haven Rising and other unions around the city. Elicker and his supporters enjoyed drinks and pizza while they celebrated the victory.

During his speech, Elicker thanked his wife, Natalie, his daughters and his parents. He also congratulated the winners of contested alder races around the city. Elicker mentioned various accomplishments of his administration over the last four years, including implementing and growing the Elm City’s non-violent crisis response team, called COMPASS, increasing affordable housing units and the ordinance that allowed for the first tenants union in Connecticut. He also acknowledged that his campaign is not yet over.

“Let’s be clear that tonight is not a victory, because guess what, we’ve got a campaign that goes through November and we have a candidate that is on the Republican ticket,” said Elicker. “We need to keep the fire on to win, and we need your support to win. We need to knock on doors. We need to get the message out so that it is not 70 percent, but it is even more in November. Are you with me?”

Mayor Justin Elicker on winning New Haven Democratic primary election in his race for re-election

When Brennan entered his after-party, he knew he had lost the election. The crowd of around 20 people met him with hugs and cheery words. He walked from person to person, smiling and thanking them for their support. 

Brennan acknowledged that the result of the race was not what he was hoping for but said that his campaign raised important issues, helping city residents envision a “better future.” 

“Winning office was always just a means to an end … to enact the change we want,” Brennan told his supporters. “Our whole system of government [in the United States] is creaky and old. We can give up and we can complain … or we can choose to try to do something better. And that is what all of you did over these last few months.”

Brennan will not be on the ballot in November, as he chose to not run as an independent candidate. He told the News that while he does not have any specific post-election plans, he will continue to be involved in the city, and also hopes to spend some more time with his wife and four kids. 

Abdul Osmanu, field manager for Brennan’s mayoral campaign and a town councilor in neighboring Hamden, told the News that while he has run many campaigns in his career, Brennan’s was his favorite. 

“Liam always has his eyes on the issues, and I am excited for all the great things he will continue to do,” Osmanu said.

Ending on an amicable note, the candidates spoke over the phone after the election was called, during which they agreed to work together to help serve New Haven.

“I’m grateful that Liam threw his hat in the race and ran a spirited campaign,” said Elicker at his party.

Brennan held his election day after-party at ​​Rudy’s Bar on Chapel Street.

Brennan also thanked Elicker and acknowledged his “fantastic campaign.”

“His service to the city has been phenomenal,” Brennan said, “[and I appreciate] his willingness to put himself out there.” 

Around the city, voters shared why they chose to vote for either Elicker or Brennan with the News.

In Ward 22, former middle school teacher Melodie Thigpen, said she voted for Brennan, hoping that a new administration would help keep the Yale students living near her home on Lake Place accountable for their noise and littering.

“It seems like Yale is protected. The students are very privileged and they act like it,” Thigpen said.

Up north in Ward 10, Lisa Begmann told the News that she voted for Elicker because of his collaboration with “a coalition of alders.” Bergmann highlighted Elicker’s support for a better job market and local hiring, reopening the Q-House and prioritizing safety as reasons for supporting Elicker. 

The general election will be held on Nov. 9.

Natasha Khazzam and Laura Ospina contributed reporting. 

Mia Cortés Castro covers City Hall and State Politics, and previously covered Cops and Courts. Originally from Dorado, Puerto Rico, she is a sophomore in Branford College studying English.
Yurii Stasiuk is a Managing Editor of the Yale Daily News. He previously covered City Hall as a beat reporter. Originally from Kalush, Ukraine, he is a sophomore in Jonathan Edwards College majoring in History and Political Science.