An alderman facing criminal charges that he entered the U.S. Capitol with a mob of rioters on Jan. 6, 2021, has narrowly won the Republican mayoral primary in Connecticut’s smallest city following a recount on Friday.
Gino DiGiovanni Jr. defeated three-term Mayor Richard Dziekan in the race in Derby, a city of 12,400 people about 50 miles (80 kilometers) northeast of New York City.
Following the recount, DiGiovanni retained the 10-vote lead he had after an initial ballot count in Tuesday's primary, out of just under 400 cast. Races decided by less than 20 votes trigger an automatic recount.
A message was left seeking comment with DiGiovanni.
His win comes amid a politically rightward shift that has occurred recently in some local Republican town committees across Connecticut, a state where Democrats usually dominate top political offices, but where moderate GOP candidates running on a platform of fiscal responsibility have long done well at the local level.
That shift has not always translated into more success on election day. In Greenwich, a wealthy community known for being home to moderate, old guard Republicans like former President George H.W. Bush, the GOP suffered major defeats in state races after the more conservative wing of the party took control of the local town committee. Democrats won all three state House seats and nearly defeated the incumbent Republican state senator.
Derby’s incumbent mayor, Dziekan, decided not to seek his local Republican committee’s endorsement this year. And despite Friday's recount results, he still intends to run in November's general election as a non-affiliated candidate.
It is unclear how much appeal DiGiovanni, 42, will have to Derby's broader electorate. Democrats outnumber Republicans by nearly 2 to 1 in the city.
Elected as an alderman in 2021, DiGiovanni was arrested Aug. 15 on a misdemeanor trespassing charge after civilian online investigators found photo evidence he was part of the crowd that stormed the Capitol.
The sleuths provided their research to NBC Connecticut, WVIT-TV, which confronted DiGiovanni about it at a public meeting.
DiGiovanni acknowledged he attended the rally for former President Donald Trump that day and was in the photographs taken inside the Capitol.
“I was there, I went inside there, and, you know, I didn’t damage or break anything. Obviously you got the pictures to prove it,” he told the reporter.
DiGiovanni, who runs a family-owned concrete business, has downplayed his arrest, telling reporters outside court in August that “the evidence that will be presented will show that I am innocent.” His lawyer has said DiGiovanni was just expressing his views.
When DiGiovanni filed the necessary paperwork to run for mayor, he received criticism over his candidacy from the group Citizens for Ethics.
“Those who tried to overthrow our government should not be permitted to turn around and lead it,” the group said in a posting on X, formerly known as Twitter.
DiGiovanni's next court appearance is scheduled for Nov. 9.
In the general election, DiGiovanni and Dziekan would face Democrat Joseph DiMartino, president of Derby's Board of Aldermen and Alderwomen. DiMartino ran for mayor in 2021 and lost to Dziekan by only 48 votes.
Derby resident Sharlene McEvoy has also submitted enough signatures to appear as an independent candidate in the general election.