Double Standard? What’s a guy to wear when he’s running for mayor?
You wouldn’t expect a guy named Big Steve Tracey, a former pro wrestler who once fought Hulk Hogan, to wear a suit for a late-summer primary campaign.
And Big Steve — yes, that’s his official name on campaign documents — didn’t disappoint. Tracey wore an oversized, short-sleeve, blue shirt with buttons all the way down and dad jeans as he vied, successfully, for the Republican nod for mayor of East Haven.
In photos on his facebook page, he’s shown alongside powerful supporter Sen. Len Fasano, the state Senate GOP leader, who, as almost always while in his political role, is shown in a white shirt, conservative tie and dark suit — albeit, on a September afternoon, with the jacket off.
We in the media have, at times, conducted the sexist ritual of observing the garb of women running for office, without showing the men. Sure, the dudes almost always don a blue or gray suit, but not always. So, on a day when men fared well, especially in the big cities, let’s take a look at their outfits.
“Thank you!” said Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz when I told her I was looking for equal time in political sartoria. She hesitated and then wouldn’t say whether she’s ever had her politicking outfits critiqued, but she recalled a Time Magazine feature on 30 pants suits worn by Hillary Clinton — and nary a view of the candidate’s then opponent, Barack Obama.
“I’ll just say generally it’s a double standard,” Bysiewicz quipped Tuesday evening, before any results came in.
Over in Hamden, Mayor Curt Leng is bringing back the three-piece suit almost singlehandedly in Connecticut, and naturally, flashed the waistcoat look on Tuesday as he won his primary. “Since the Edwardian era, the three-piece has gone in and out of favor, with politics or pop culture acting as the harbingers for its return,” an article in Departures.com said last year.
So Leng, a blunt and independent guy as mayor, may be setting a trend, perhaps without knowing it.
Justin Elicker, in his somewhat surprising victory over New Haven Mayor Toni Harp, flashed the standard gray suit and plain blue tie, as did Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim on Monday, even while campaigning in the neighborhoods. Ganim’s opponent, Sen. Marilyn Moore, was shown on Facebook Tuesday sporting a bold, navy blue-and-red jacket with a bright red shirt and navy pants.
Harp, long known for classic but creative style, wore a light jacket over a pale yellow dress with a printed scarf on the day of her first-ever election defeat.
Up in Middletown, Democratic mayoral primary victor Ben Florsheim defied his youth with the blue suit and highly polished shoe look, as did opponent Bill Russo. Mary Bartolotta wore a dark outfit with flare-bottom pants. Parking director Geen Thazhampallath lost the race but handily took the fashion competition with a bright blue shirt under a pale orange tie, blue blazer and off-white slacks.
And finally in Hartford, Mayor Luke Bronin sported the standby blue blazer, but with tight jeans befitting a guy with ambition — make no mistake here — an open-neck white dress shirt and brown, slip-on shoes. For the evening party, he did change into the suit.
Their choices are less broad — jeans or a suit, blue or gray, tie or no tie — but male candidates should have no less scutiny than women running for office.
“With the exception of Obama's famous tan suit, male politicians are rarely scrutinized for their fashion choices, said Milford political consultant Michelle Parente DiMartino. “Analyzing what the men wore on election day is fun for a change, but serves as a reminder of how ridiculous it is to judge the competency of female candidates by this standard.”