Cosgrove swamps Brockett, wins fifth term as Branford first selectman

John Moritz

Nov 3, 2021

“We take pride in the campaign that we ran,” Cosgrove said. “We ran on our record, we ran on a positive campaign for Branford and we ran on our vision.”

BRANFORD— First Selectman Jamie Cosgrove was elected to a fifth term Tuesday, defeating a challenge from Democrat Tom Brockett by an overwhelming margin.

Unofficial results showed Cosgrove leading Brockett 4,451 votes to 2,573.

Two incumbents on the Board of Selectmen, Republican Angie Higgins and Democratic Selectman Ray Dunbar, ran behind their party’s headliners to keep their seats on the four-member board. Both won reelection, with 4,019 votes for Higgins and 2,882 for Dunbar.

For Cosgrove, the results echoed his lopsided win over his last Democratic challenger, Lynda Mollow, in 2017. Cosgrove did not have a Democratic opponent in 2019.

The victor addressed his supporters about 9 p.m. at a Republican Town Committee watch party held at Lenny’s Indian Head Inn. Shortly before, Brockett said he had called Cosgrove to concede.

“We take pride in the campaign that we ran,” Cosgrove said. “We ran on our record, we ran on a positive campaign for Branford and we ran on our vision.”

Until just a few weeks ago, the race centered on local issues such as taxes, the town’s system of sending out emergency alerts and the proposed development of an Amazon distribution hub on the west side of town.

With a tax rate of 29.45 mills, Branford has some of the lowest property taxes in the area — a distinction both candidates said they would seek to continue.

Brockett latched onto Cosgrove’s response to an armed standoff at a Main Street apartment in April, saying only limited information was relayed to residents beyond the immediate area. Cosgrove said his emergency management officials followed previously established protocols in response to the standoff and that increased communications — especially through the use of robocalls — would have the opposite of the intended effect.

Those issues faded somewhat in late October, however, when Cosgrove came under scrutiny for his family’s business ties with a landscaping company under contract with the town.

Brockett immediately called on Cosgrove to resign, a suggestion that was just as soon brushed off by the incumbent, who denied any wrongdoing.

Instead, Cosgrove turned the accusations back at his opponent, whom he accused of scurrilous campaigning.

“I continue to run a positive campaign. If my opponent thinks he has a successful strategy in the way he’s run his campaign, I think we’ll let the voters decide,” Cosgrove told Hearst last month.

Gritli and Daniel Rabin, two traditionally Democratic voters who said they crossed party lines to vote for Cosgrove Tuesday afternoon at the Orchard House polling location, said they did so because of the Republican’s past support for solar initiatives and a town Clean Energy Committee.

After Superstorm Sandy hit the region, Daniel Rabin said their concern over climate change led the couple to raise their house overlooking a salt marsh with the support of the town engineer.

“He’s very good for energy and the environment,” Gritli Rabin said of Cosgrove.

At Lenny’s Tuesday night, several revelers began chants of “Let’s Go Brandon,” a euphemism for a curse at President Joe Biden, as the results came in solid for Republicans. Later, the chants turned into “Let’s Go Branford.”

When asked about the chants, Cosgrove said he had not heard them and pointed to his own tone of campaigning. “I think my record speaks for itself,” he said.