HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Republican Seb Giuliano (67) has been telling voters that his 3 terms as Middletown’s mayor make him uniquely qualified in this year’s race. Especially considering his 27-year-old Democratic opponent has never held elective office and hasn’t lived in town for very long.
Now, in the final weeks of the campaign, Giuliano says that Ben Florsheim, whose family owns ‘Florsheim Shoes,’ among other businesses, is attempting to buy the mayor’s office by lending his campaign over $50,000 from a family-established trust fund.
Giuliano saying of the move that it “demonstrates a lack of ability to gain the very grassroots support that he originally claimed he was basing his campaign on.”
Florsheim says the loan was made months ago because he was in a very competitive four-way primary, adding, “We made that loan because we realized that we were going to be vastly outspent if we didn’t bring resources into play.”
Giuliano says that all the money he’s raised has been from local people in relatively small amounts: “There’s two ways you can support somebody. Obviously one is with a vote and another is with a contribution, and he just doesn’t have that here.”
Florsheim says his small, local contributions have increased since the primary and he adds, “It’s not about a career stepping-stone or a career capstone for me. It is about the issues that we’ve been talking about since day one of this campaign.”
So far in this race, Florsheim has spent about $80,000 and Giuliano has spent about $20,000.