January 9, 2014 10:43AM
By Susan Haigh
DANBURY — Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton on Wednesday became the latest Republican to announce his candidacy for governor, calling himself a “blue-collar Republican” who can relate to the struggles of everyday Connecticut residents who are scared about their futures and still grappling with a tough economy.
“Right now, I believe in this state, and given the state of our state, those individuals along with myself, aren’t getting their fair share of the American Dream,” said Boughton, a seven-term mayor. He said he plans to present a positive vision for those people about what Connecticut can become, claiming the state’s economy has been “stuck in neutral” under Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s leadership.
Malloy has yet to announce if he’ll seek a second term.
Boughton, a 49-year-old former high school history teacher who was re-elected mayor in a landslide in November, capturing 71 percent of the vote, made his announcement at a Danbury Holiday Inn, flanked by his wife, Phyllis, and a group of supporters. He joins Senate Minority Leader John McKinney of Fairfield and Shelton Mayor Mark Lauretti in creating an official candidate committee to run for governor. He previously formed an exploratory committee. Two other Republicans, Joseph Visconti of West Hartford and Gordon Ward of Manchester, also have filed paperwork for candidate committees.
Meanwhile, a couple of other GOP candidates still have exploratory committees, including Tom Foley of Greenwich, a former U.S. ambassador to Ireland and the party’s 2010 candidate, who spent more than $10 million of his own money on the narrow race. Wilton state Sen. Toni Boucher is also considering a run for governor. State Republicans are scheduled to endorse a candidate in mid-May, although a primary appears to be likely.
Boughton said he decided to enter the race after gauging his fundraising potential and political support. He contends his candidacy stands apart from some of his fellow Republican contenders because he can relate to everyday residents.
“I’m a blue-collar Republican. I’m just like them. I’ve experienced the same things. I understand the problems that they’re having,” he said, adding how his wife owns a small business in Danbury and understands what it’s like to manage several employees and deal with issues such as the federal health care law.
“People get that I’m just like them. I have to say that I’m not a millionaire, I’m a thousandaire,” Boughton said. “I’ve got about 1,000 bucks in the bank.”
Like McKinney and Lauretti, Boughton plans to raise $250,000 in contributions of $100 or less in order to participate in Connecticut’s public campaign financing program. Ultimately, they can receive at least $1.25 million for a primary and $6 million for the general election.
James Hallinan, a spokesman for the Connecticut Democrats, questioned Boughton’s claims that he can relate to the struggles of everyday people, referring to his vote as a state representative opposing an increase to the minimum wage.
“He didn’t just vote against it several years ago. He recently just told The Hartford Courant that he was against the increases to the minimum wage that just took place,” said Hallinan
“I would encourage the mayor to ask mainstream Connecticut families if that’s what they want,” Hallinan said. “We don’t believe it is.”
Boughton said he does support increases in the state’s minimum wage “when practical” and that he had voted against one bill that expanded the hours a 15-year-old is allowed to work. As a former teacher, Boughton said he thought adding more work hours would hurt students’ academic achievement.