Rick Torres Stirs Emotions
Rick is a passionate pol who stirs passionate responses. He has qualified for the ballot to challenge GOP-endorsed State Senator Dan Debicella, a Bridgeport native, in an August primary the winner to face Fourth District Democratic Congressman Jim Himes. Rob Merkle, of Norwalk, founder of an executive search firm in Westport, has also qualified for the August primary. Merkle is a favorite of some Tea Party types, such as it is in Fairfield County. So who’s Rick Torres?
(See a snapshot of his bio below.) Torres lives in Black Rock and operates Harborview Market, a popular neighborhood gathering spot. Rick toiled in Bridgeport Democratic politics for a while as an outsider. He was so outside as an establishment fighter that it was better to become a Republican. In 2003 he almost became mayor, losing the general election to John Fabrizi who had become chief executive following Joe Ganim’s resignation following his conviction on corruption charges.
The early fall of 2003 was dicey for Democrats. The electorate was angry, Fabrizi had served as city council president while Ganim was mayor, Mario Testa was party leader. Fabrizi survived a tough primary against Caruso and others. As the general election closed in Republican and Democratic polls showed the race was even. That’s not good for Dems who enjoy a major registration advantage. Testa decided it would be good to resign to take heat off Fabrizi. The editorial board of the Connecticut Post did not believe Rick had the right temperament to be mayor. A statement Rick made about the minority community lifting themselves up was interpreted as insensitive. Fabrizi won the election.
Rick did not go away, nor did his controversial swagger. In the summer of 2007 Rick, as the local GOP chair, endorsed Democratic State Rep. Chris Caruso, the mayoral primary challenger to party-endorsed Bill Finch, arguing the best way to cleanse the city’s Democratic political system was to get behind the guy who’d powerwash it into the Pequonnock River. Local Republicans threw a fit over Rick endorsing a Dem and removed Torres as party leader.
When challengers emerged this year to take on Himes, former State Senator Rob Russo had the majority of the Bridgeport GOP support. Undeterred, Torres jumped in as well claiming the throne of conservatism. Russo’s campaign never took flight, Debicella’s fundraising efforts and district-wide campaigning propelled him to the party endorsement. Taking out Debicella is a tall task. He has money and organizational support. But he must safeguard his money for the general election. Torres has a history of whistling to his own tune. He won’t go away quietly. He has been endorsed by economic guru Peter Schiff who’s trying to slay GOP-endorsed Linda McMahon for the right to challenge Dick Blumenthal in November. www.ricktorres2010.com
From Rick Torres:
Tags: Barnum Museum·Bill Finch·Chris Caruso·CT Post·Dan Debicella·Dick Blumenthal·Jim Himes·Joe Ganim·John Fabrizi·Keith Rodgerson·Linda McMahon·Mario Testa·Peter Schiff·Playhouse on the Green·Quinnipiac University·Rick Torres·Rob Russo·Tom Foley
Rick Torres, who is running for the Republican nomination in Connecticut’s 4th District, the seat currently held by Jim Himes, has issued the following statement on the Secretary of State’s announcement regarding ballot qualifiers today. Torres is excited to have his ideas aired alongside those of fellow Republicans Robert Merkle and Dan Dibecella.
“This is going to be an exciting race and, I believe, a definitive race for the nation. The voters of Connecticut’s Fourth have clear choices between a candidate who has as his base, the Republican establishment and a candidate who has the support of some of the louder voices in the Tea Party movement. In me they have a third choice: a candidate who derives his support from regular folks across the District who just simply want to be left alone to raise their families and run their businesses.
“I have struggled and fought from the time that my family fled Cuba and have risen from the oppression of the public housing system to have my name on a ballot for United States Congress. It is really quite an honor and I am happy that the voters had the faith in me to sign my nomination papers.
“It is an interesting year to be in a race. So many want to hold on to their power and others are just swinging wildly because they are angry. We need a reasoned dialogue with the people because it is their lives and their freedoms that are at stake here. Insiders must put aside their allegiances and some in the debate must tone down their anger. We need to come up with real solutions to restore our nation to her place as a shining light for democracy around the globe.”
Torres, who was born in Bridgeport, moved back to his family’s native Cuba when he was a young boy. It took his father five years after Fidel Castro came to power to secure permission to return to America’s shores. In 1967, Rick and his brother were brought back to Bridgeport—with not much more than the clothes on their backs. The family lived across from the PT Barnum Public Housing Project and Torres worked his way through college in a series of construction trades jobs. He eventually studied for a PhD in microbiology but, like many folks, had to quit graduate school in order to support his young family.
Torres and Michelle, his wife of 27 years, started a series of small businesses, working double shifts for years. Eventually, they bought Harborview Market: a once thriving neighborhood store which had fallen on desperate times. Harborview is once again a successful business and was the site of today’s press conference.
In 2003, Rick ran for Mayor of Bridgeport on the Republican Ticket. Prior to his Mayoral run, Rick took an active role in a number of neighborhood and community organizations, and ran for several local government offices. Rick and Michele have five children: John, Alex, Michael, Kaitlyn, and Gabbi. They live in Bridgeport.
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