It’s Official

Jarjura Switches Political Party

Photographs By John Murray

After winning ten general elections in Waterbury as a Democrat, Mayor Michael Jarjura announced on May 31st that he has registered as a Republican, and is now seeking the Republican nomination for mayor this November. Jarjura said he has been a conservative Democrat his entire career, but recent changes in the party have made him uncomfortable. Political ideology aside, Jarjura told the Observer last week that he had no shot of getting the Democratic nomination for a sixth term, but he was intent on being on the ballot in November. He will be now.

Regional Republican leaders came out in force to celebrate and applaud Jarjura’s announcement. From left to right are 71st State Rep. Tony D’Amelio, Mayor Jarjura, Waterbury Republican Party vice chairman Jason Van Stone, Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, , 74th State Rep. Selim Noujaim, Torrington Mayor Ryan Bingham and State Senator Joe Markley.

Waterbury Republican Town Chairman Bill Harris welcomed Mayor Jarjura into the Republican Party.

Besides Republican leaders and the media, the cavernous Veterans’ Hall in Waterbury was mostly empty.

Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, State Rep. Selim Noujaim, Torrington Mayor Ryan Bingham and State Senator Joe Markley watch the proceedings unfold.

71st State Rep. Tony D’Amelio was thrilled with Jarjura’s decision to join the Republican Party. D’Amelio said the switch will give the voters of Waterbury a choice in November. D’Amelio said the notion that the Democrats could select the city’s next mayor in a back room deal was offensive to him.

Bryan Baker had been the only announced candidate for the Republican nomination, and after Jarjura made the switch official, Baker announced he was stopping his campaign.

The bold move to the GOP has re-invigorated Mike Jarjura and he will be a formidable opponent in November. The Observer spent a portion of the afternoon interviewing Neil O’Leary, the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination, and will be interviewing other key players in the 2011 mayoral race before publishing a more in-depth article on what Mayor Jarjura’s announcement means to local politics, and more importantly, to the future of the city of Waterbury.