Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton Narrowly Wins GOP Endorsement

May 12, 2018 - 8:49 pm

Aaron Kupec/WTIC


By SUSAN HAIGH ,  Associated Press

MASHANTUCKET, Conn. (WTIC and AP) — Longtime Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton narrowly won the Connecticut Republican Party's endorsement for governor on Saturday.

While he faces a likely challenge from at least three fellow GOP contenders, the 54-year-old former high school teacher told the delegates at the two-day state Republican convention he was going to earn their votes for the Aug. 14 primary and help elect other Republicans.

"We're going to do it together, working together as a team," said Boughton, a former two-time gubernatorial contender but previously never the party's endorsed candidate. "The time is now for Republican leadership and for Republican values."

Republicans hoped to emerge from the weekend's political convention with a common message to voters: Their party is the one to finally fix the state's long-standing fiscal problems.

One after another, candidates promised to deliver financial stability and prosperity on Saturday.

"It's all going to come down to the finances of the state of Connecticut," said Kurt Miller, who was endorsed for comptroller. He faces a potential primary on Aug. 14.

"I think a lot of people are tired of their money going to bloated government for unnecessary spending," he said. "I think these are things that people are going to start to change their mind (and vote Republican)."

There was no dominant front-runner Saturday among the eight gubernatorial candidates nominated, even after three rounds of balloting, numerous voting switches and a feisty debate over whether to close the voting.

Boughton won slightly more than 50 percent, besting former Trumbull Mayor Tim Herbst. Besides Boughton and Herbst, Westport businessman Steve Obsitnik also garnered enough support to participate in the primary, if they choose to do so. Meanwhile, two candidates, businessmen David Stemerman and Bob Stefanowski, were not nominated at the event because they've decided to collect the approximately 9,000 signatures needed to appear on the primary ballot.

"I think as we've seen, there is not an overwhelmingly movement for anybody," said Stemerman, who contends Republicans are open to an "outsider" candidate like himself. "What it indicates to me is that none of these candidates have broken through with a message that is really resonating."

Other candidates can also choose the collect signatures to appear on the primary ballot.

The convention at Foxwoods Resort Casino comes on the heels of the newly adjourned General Assembly session. Despite passage of a revised budget for the second year of last year's two-year budget, the state still faces future deficits and unfunded state pension liabilities.

With Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy not seeking a third term, a long line of Republicans have lined up, arguing they're the ones who can finally address such financial woes.

JR Romano, the party's chairman, said regardless of who received the party's backing and who ultimately wins the primary, the GOP is on message.

"If we continue Democrat control, it will be failure for the state of Connecticut. It will be the continuation of failure," he said. "So everyone in this room understands that. That's what unites us. These people are trying to save the state."

But state Democrats, who will hold their convention in Hartford next weekend, are trying to make this year's election about the national political landscape, as much as the situation in Connecticut.

"Republicans across the state have already remained silent as Donald Trump and national Republicans championed two pieces of legislation, the tax bill and the Republican health care repeal, that would have devastated Connecticut financially," said Democratic Party Chairman Nick Balletto. "We cannot allow a Republican who will compromise our values in Connecticut to be our state's top financial officer or in charge of our checks and balances

Besides Miller, Republicans on Saturday also endorsed Thaddeus "Thad" Gray of Salisbury, a retired investment officer, as the party's candidate for treasurer. Republican state Sen. Art Linares of Westbrook won enough support, however, to qualify for the Sept. 14 primary.

Delegates also planned to endorse a candidate for lieutenant governor. They have several to choose from.

(© Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)