Trio of ex-cons run for elected office

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Connecticut politicians Joseph Ganim, Ernie Newton and Joseph Santopietro share a unique bond. They’re all convicted felons.

Collectively, they spent more than 18 years in federal prison on corruption-related charges. Now, they’re all attempting to make a political comeback by running for elected office again.

“I don’t think it’s a smart idea,” said voter Denis Hickey of Thomaston.

Newton and Santopietro were on the ballot for Tuesday’s election, each vying for city council in Bridgeport and Waterbury respectively. Newton won and Santopietro lost.

“If they have the rights of citizenship they should have the full rights of citizenship,” said Connecticut Secretary of State Denise Merrill.

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Ganin reclaimed the Bridgeport mayor’s office in 2015 after his fall from grace. Now, the twice convicted felon is on the ballot in 2018 when he hopes to become governor.

Yet, Merrill told News 8 she has concerns about candidates whose prior crimes forced them out of office. But she said ultimately it’s up to the voter if they want to support someone with a checkered past.

Back in July, Santopietro spoke exclusively to News 8 about his second chance. “I’m very, very sorry for what I put the city of Waterbury through.”

Convicted felons can only run for office in Connecticut after completing the entire jail term and fulfiling all court orders.

“It’s America. People choose who they want to choose,” said Kelly Cronin, a voter from Prospect.