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Boughton Paints Himself As A ‘Blue Collar’ Republican In Exploring Statewide Bid

by Christine Stuart | Aug 14, 2013 2:00pm
(11) Comments | Commenting has expired
Posted to: Election 2014, Danbury

Christine Stuart photo

Mark Boughton being interviewed by WTNH’s Mark Davis

DANBURY — Before Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton even whispered or Tweeted his intention to explore a run for governor in 2014, the Connecticut Democratic Party released a statement claiming he was “out of touch with the middle class.”

Boughton said he was flattered by the attention from the Democratic Party, but doesn’t believe its attempt to label him as “out of touch with the middle class” will stick.

Unlike his two Republican opponents, Sen. John McKinney and former U.S. Ambassador to Ireland Tom Foley, Boughton doesn’t come from money.

A former Social Studies teacher, Boughton described himself Wednesday as a “blue collar” Republican.

“I don’t come from means. I come from this building,” he said pointing to the high school behind him.

There was no podium and no supporters cheering for him in the background. Just Danbury High School, where the air conditioning was recently fixed in the auditorium — a repair Boughton went to check on before the press conference even began.

In surveying the competition in the governor’s race, Boughton said “I believe that right now, of the candidates that are out there, no one — including the governor that we currently have — understands what the working men and women of this state are going through. They don’t understand how difficult it is to put gas in your car. How difficult it is to find a job. Feed your family.”

He said if he decides to run for governor, his candidacy will be about “sharing with the working men and women of this state what the challenges are that they face, how to correct them, and how to make policy choices in Connecticut that will serve all the residents of Connecticut, all the time.”


Foley, in a telephone interview Wednesday, chuckled at the notion that he was out-of-touch with the middle class in the state.

“I certainly think the results from 2010 say otherwise,” Foley said.

In 2010, Foley lost to Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy by only 6,404 votes after a week of recounts.

McKinney, who served two terms in the General Assembly with Boughton, welcomed him to the race.

“He’s a good guy. I consider him a friend,” McKinney said.

McKinney also chuckled at the notion that he was out-of-touch with the middle class. McKinney, whose father was a Congressman and whose mother is an heir to the Standard Oil fortune, said for the past two years he’s “fought against all the bad policies the Democrats and Gov. Malloy have foisted on the state.”

“I’m a strong supporter of the middle class and would argue I’m in touch with the needs of all the people in Connecticut,” he said.

However, Boughton maintained that his background is different.

“My family has been in the city for over 300 years. I come from a family of carpenters. My father was a Teamster. My mother was a bookkeeper. My wife owns a small business in town that she runs very successfully,” Boughton said. “So the reality is I don’t have the resources that other people have to just pop up one day and say I’m going to run for governor.”

Boughton said he would use the state’s public campaign finance system to raise money for his campaign. He will need to raise $250,000 in qualifying contributions to receive a $1.25 million grant for the primary race. If he goes on to the general election, his campaign will receive a $6 million grant from the state.

Boughton’s been down this road before. In 2010, right before the Republican convention, Boughton dropped his bid for governor and teamed up with former Lt. Gov. Michael Fedele, who was running for governor.

In May 2010, Boughton said he was confident he had enough delegate support to enter the primary, but was struggling to raise the money he needed to get the matching public grant.

In Connecticut, lieutenant governor candidates run separately from the gubernatorial candidates, so when it came to the primary, Republican voters chose Boughton over Lisa Wilson-Foley and Foley over Fedele — pairing Boughton and Foley together at the top of the ticket.

Christine Stuart photo

Mark Boughton takes a picture of the media to Tweet from his photo

There’s been little love between the two men since. When Foley appeared on WFSB’s Face the State in January he suggested he may have done better with a female running mate.

“Trust me Tom, not having a woman on the ticket was the least of your problems . . .” Boughton Tweeted when the show aired.

Asked if he would consider running for lieutenant governor, Boughton said, “if I decide to get into this race as a candidate for governor I will not be a candidate for lieutenant governor.”

“Been there, done that,” Boughton said.

If Boughton decides to get into the race for governor he faces several challenges. He’s also running for a seventh term as mayor this November.

“I think that I’m only a candidate right now for one office, that’s for the office of mayor. Potentially later in the year I might be a candidate for governor,” Boughton said.

He said he would make a decision about a gubernatorial bid in January 2014. Until then, he has created the exploratory committee so he can start raising money. Individuals can give up to $375 to an exploratory committee, but only $100 counts toward the $250,000 fundraising goal.

“Right now we really have to do our homework and spend the next few months putting the pieces together, if you will. Hopefully raising the money we need to raise to be competitive. And then we’ll make a decision later on if the response we get from statewide Republicans is we want you as our candidate,” he added.

On the Issues

Guns: Would Boughton have signed the bipartisan gun legislation that was a response to the Sandy Hook School shooting?

“I believe and have believed that those people deserved a legislative response,” Boughton said. “I don’t know if the legislature got it right. I think in many, many ways they didn’t get it right. Particularly when it relates to school safety. To only put $15 million to harden our school sites in the entire state of Connecticut is absolutely bizarre.”

But would he have signed it?

“I would have to think long and hard about that and probably have to make a decision about what I think is best for the residents of Connecticut, but also the response for the parents of Sandy Hook,” he said.

Immigration: Boughton made national news in 2006 when 11 day laborers were arrested and turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement after local undercover police posed as contractors looking for workers.

Boughton has said an immigration judge ruled in the city’s favor, agreeing that there were no civil rights violations during the arrests.

However, the controversial partnership between the Danbury Police Department and ICE that gave local police access to the federal immigration database ended in January. The immigrant community feared massive raids would lead to hundreds of undocumented workers being deported from the country.

Asked about his relationship with the immigrant community, Boughton said Danbury is about 25 percent Latino and he couldn’t get elected by 75 percent of the vote in the last election if he didn’t have a positive relationship with the immigrant community.

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(11) Comments

posted by: JamesBronsdon | August 14, 2013  5:08pm

I don’t get it. Did Boughton hold a press conference? To say he was thinking about running about governor? I hope that’s not true. If it is, why? It only makes him look indecisive.

posted by: Christine Stuart | August 14, 2013  5:36pm

Christine Stuart

James Bronsdon,
There’s actually a good explanation that I’m thinking I should probably explain further. He can’t use an exploratory to raise money if he jumps in and says he’s running for governor right away. So in order to raise money in the interim he has to say he’s thinking about running for governor. It’s part of the rules for participating in the clean election program. He’s just following the strange rules set by the state. Technically the money from the exploratory committee can be transferred over into a candidate committee for any of the six constitutional offices. But you’re right it does sound kind of funny that he’s thinking about running when really he wants to say he is, but if he does he loses out on that ability to raise money.
Christine

posted by: JamesBronsdon | August 14, 2013  5:46pm

Thanks, Christine. It’s always about the money (or power or sex), isn’t it? I should’ve assumed that was behind it. So, where/how does he present his views on the issues? Presumably he can’t have a Boughton for Gov website. I’d like to know more, because Foley and McKinney aren’t doing it for me. A Q and A with you?

posted by: Salmo | August 14, 2013  6:14pm

I could vote for this man.

posted by: Joebigjoe | August 14, 2013  9:34pm

Sorry but I just dont agree with this. He said with regards to gun legislation ” but also the response for the parents of Sandy Hook,”

To this day I feel for their loss but the law should be about what’s best for many more than 20 sets of parents to prevent it from happening again.

I do agree with him on the school safety and he is right that the response is bizarre. These parents sacrificed tremendously and the focus should have been and should be on moving forward making sure it doesnt happen again to other families.

posted by: ASTANVET | August 15, 2013  10:21am

He is a member of two anti-gun organizations.  That to me is evidence that he is one of two things.  He is either a conservative who will be a chameleon in a blue state and abandon his principles, or a progressive posing as a republican.  You are either for civil rights, or you are not… which is it?  I just see another ‘politician’ here - not a leader.  I just don’t know if there will ever be someone who will run that we can trust.  They all seem so willing to turn their backs to cave to the mob like public opinion in CT.

posted by: art vandelay | August 15, 2013  10:48am

art vandelay

I hope the 2016 is not about guns.  It needs to be focused on the fiscal health of Connecticut and how to prevent this state from becoming the next Detroit.

posted by: dano860 | August 15, 2013  2:06pm

Art, I have to agree but to the extent of the results related to the ‘pushed through’ legislation on firearms has already and will continue to affect our economy it has to be a part of the equation.
I have said in the past, lets see all they can muster up and what each has to offer then we can delve into each one and get a better understanding of who and what they are. I hope that people make good decisions based on fact and not snippets of campaign adds and other bomb throwing literature. That is where the LIV group gets us into trouble. That and the fact of us being a purple/blue state.
If we gave a 10 mile swath of Ct . ,along its western border, to N.Y. we would be Detroit. A majority of the big $ live within than area.
Remember, the government has no money, they get only what they take from us.

posted by: art vandelay | August 15, 2013  4:49pm

art vandelay

I also hope in 2016 the Republicans focus their efforts to obtain majorities in the House & Senate. It’s the only way our state can change directions.  Without Republicans as Chairman of the Appropriations, Judicial, and Transportation Committees our state will continue on its downward slope. A Republican Governor can do no better than Rowland or Rell with a legislature controlled by Democrats.

posted by: ASTANVET | August 15, 2013  5:43pm

Art - I know i wasn’t clear about my point - yes, 2A stuff is important to me, but if someone abandons principle on civil liberties, how can i trust them to stay fiscally conservative?  I am looking for someone of character, someone who stands by their principles - conservative principles.  Fiscal responsibility is the #1 issue… i need to trust that whomever I vote for will fight for those things, and not cave to public opinion - like he did with the gun issue.

posted by: Joebigjoe | August 16, 2013  1:20pm

Well said ASATANVET. We need people we can trust. I’m a conservative Republican on most issues but I dont even trust the key members of my own party at a National level, specifically Boehner and McCain. If there was a Democrat that was more like a Reagan Democrat running for Governor and the Republican candidate was slimy, I would vote for the person I could trust and in that example it would be the Dem.

I’m big on 2A rights and if someone ran on replacing the gun law with something that will protect kids in schools and people in public places, as well as put more focus on reducing city gun violence I’m all for it. Leave the law abiding citizens and manufacturers alone.