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OP-ED | Boughton’s In & Foley’s Stumbling, Or Why The Gov’s Race Isn’t Very Interesting Right Now

by Susan Bigelow | Jan 10, 2014 9:55am
(12) Comments | Commenting has expired
Posted to: Election 2014, Opinion

A few big things happened in the Republican governor’s race this week: Danbury Mark Boughton officially announced his intention to run for governor this week, and Tom Foley’s latest accusation against the Malloy administration was revealed to be just as baseless as the last few. In short, not much has changed.

Boughton’s announcement was the big news. The Danbury Republican was the party’s choice for Lt. Governor in 2010 after an abortive campaign for governor; he’s looking to do better this time around. His announcement speech largely focused on the state’s anemic economy and what he sees as Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s failure to right the ship.

It wasn’t exactly invigorating stuff. Boughton didn’t catch fire in 2010, and despite the fact that he has an entertaining Twitter feed with puzzling-for-a-middle-aged-white-guy hashtags (like #oneluv, for instance), his campaign so far looks pretty tame. He wants to “improve” the gun control law to focus more on mental health instead of repealing it outright, wants to hold off on the minimum wage hike until a more opportune time, and has nebulous plans make the state more friendly to business. In short, he’s a lot like his former running mate and fellow moderate-ish Republican Tom Foley.

Foley himself hasn’t officially announced for governor, he’s still in the exploratory phase, but Boughton tried to distance himself from the wealthy Foley by claiming to be a “blue-collar” Republican.

“I’m not a millionaire,” Boughton said. “I’m a thousandaire.”

The other thing separating Boughton from Foley is that he hasn’t been busy making easily disproven accusations against Malloy. This week he suggested that two brothers who received state economic aid, Salvatore and Stephen Carrabba, were related to Democratic lobbyist Anthony Camilliere. This turned out to not be the case. Foley insisted that this was “something I heard and that people believe to be true,” which is not a very reassuring standard of evidence coming from someone who wants to be governor.

Democratic operatives could have a lot of fun planting rumors with Foley and seeing which ones he takes to the press. Points to the intern who can get him to believe there’s a dragon living under the Department of Transportation building on the Berlin Turnpike, or that Suffield is just a myth concocted by the tourism people.

Boughton said that Republicans need to pick someone who is “electable” this time around, suggesting that Foley probably isn’t. That may or may not be true, given how short voters’ memories are these days. Foley’s biggest real problem is that he already ran and lost once; successful second chances don’t happen much in politics. Joe Courtney and John Rowland pulled it off, but both of them won razor-thin victories during wave elections in 1994 and 2006. A Republican wave isn’t happening this year — sorry, Republicans.

As far as Boughton’s concerned, if the media continues chewing on a vulnerable Foley he might start to look like a sensible alternative. There are others in the race, but each of them have drawbacks. Senate Minority Leader John McKinney isn’t well-loved by conservatives thanks to his gun control votes, and the others in the pack, like Shelton Mayor Mark Lauretti and state Sen. Toni Boucher, are barely known. So Boughton has a decent shot at the nomination, though it remains Foley’s to lose or throw away.

Democrats certainly seem to take Boughton seriously. They’re already sending a video tracker, and they went so far as to have a spokesman attend his announcement and “react” to press afterward. This is either a sign that they are worried about Boughton, or that they have an awful lot of money to burn, or maybe both.

He does have problems. He had a well-publicized fight against Danbury’s immigrant community, and lately has felt some heat from a lawsuit filed by his former personal assistant. He wasn’t helped by the city’s heavy-handed reaction to the release of some documents from the suit.

Hovering over all of this is the governor himself, who hasn’t bothered engaging too much with the still-forming Republican field. The election is still 10 long months away, after all, and Malloy hasn’t even announced his re-election campaign yet.

Therefore Boughton is being cautious, and the race remains static. If something that gets the GOP’s base fired up — like gun rights — becomes a big issue, things could shift around very quickly. So far, though, this has been and will continue to be a pretty tepid race.

Susan Bigelow is an award-winning columnist and the founder of CTLocalPolitics. She lives in Enfield with her wife and their cats.

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(12) Comments

posted by: ConnVoter | January 10, 2014  4:24pm

Susan, you’re missing the point (again).  Cousins, close friends, what’s the difference?  Here’s how the Courant characterizes the relationship—you tell me if this implies that Carrabba and Camilliere are close or not:

“But the two brothers said in a phone interview Tuesday that they are not related to Camilliere. They said their grandfather and Camilliere’s father were close friends.”

http://articles.courant.com/2014-01-08/news/hc-foley-accuracy-0108-20140107_1_foley-decd-two-brothers

FYI, just about every Italian I know has an “Uncle ____” who isn’t an uncle by blood.

Regardless, doesn’t this say or at least suggest that they’re pretty darn close?

Rome is burning and you’re celebrating a “gotcha” moment.  Congratulations!

posted by: LongJohn47 | January 10, 2014  5:08pm

The strangest event will take place next week, if David Walker announces for Lt. Governor as rumored. 

Here’s a guy with national experience and connections to good government money, seeking a second banana job refereeing state senate sessions and cutting ribbons in backwaters where the Gov doesn’t want to go.  Bizarre.

posted by: justsayin | January 11, 2014  5:50am

Susan why the race card? Middle aged “white” guy. A little early for you to pull that out if you are truly not worried. Sounds that to me like he is having fun and getting some attention. Nothing wrong with “white” guys doing that.

posted by: Susan Bigelow | January 11, 2014  11:11am

I saw the David Walker news, LongJohn, and it is definitely a bit of a head-scratcher. I wonder if this is the end of Penny Bacchiochi’s campaign?

posted by: LongJohn47 | January 11, 2014  11:40am

Susan—don’t know.  Here’s what Mark Boughton thinks:
“I think Penny did a very smart thing by getting out early and sort of staking out her interest,” Boughton said. “I think she is positioning to make herself viable.” 

You’ve got to admit the Two B’s would be a fresh-faced ticket

posted by: art vandelay | January 11, 2014  12:09pm

art vandelay

Until a Conservative majority is elected in the House & Senate, nothing in this state will change.  A Republican Governor with Democrat Majorities will be in the same boat Rowland & Rell were in.

posted by: StanMuzyk | January 11, 2014  3:11pm

Mark Boughton and Tom Foley -are front-runners—but watch the probable “people’s-choice-dark-horse”—Shelton Mayor Mark Lauretti.

posted by: art vandelay | January 12, 2014  6:42am

art vandelay

If only McKinney would drop out, the Republicans might just stand a good chance of winning.  McKinney’s true RINO colors emerged with his gun control vote.  If the Republicans nominate McKinney, they can kiss the November election goodbye.

posted by: Joebigjoe | January 12, 2014  8:43am

For once I agree with LongJohn.

I dont know why Walker wouldnt run for Governor. When he would talk finances anyone that wouldnt listen wouldnt have the best long term interests of the state at heart, and thats what we need regardless of party, is for someone to honestly lay it out for us.

I am interested in what Lauretti has to say more specificially on the gun law as well as state finances. He said he would have tackled mental illness as the priority but he left out what he would have done about the gun law.

How about a compromise on that and hear me out my 2nd amendment friends.

If the courts uphold this garbage how about allowing the sale of the banned guns and magazines but at purchase they need to be registered? I know that sounds horrible but its better than the alternative we have. Also it is gun registration but for me the fact is that if they someday came looking for everyones guns, I would have used mine to fight back which is what the 2nd amendment is all about, so to compromise in this liberal state might be a good thing in the end.

posted by: LongJohn47 | January 12, 2014  12:37pm

If CT Rs are anything like the national party, they’ll choose the “next in line”—Boughton.  Anyone other than the Danbury mayor, the State Senate Minority Leader (and son of a former Congressman), or the clueless rich guy with massive bucks from Greenwich is a long shot indeed.

BTW, CT does not have a good history of electing state-wide self-funded candidates—0 for 5 recently (Lamont twice, the wrestling lady twice, and the empty suit once so far).  When will they ever learn?

posted by: StanMuzyk | January 12, 2014  5:08pm

@LongJohn47: You are absolutely right. Can’t dispute history.

posted by: LongJohn47 | January 12, 2014  5:24pm

Art —to this left winger, McKinney looks like the best shot (pun intended) the Rs have to beat Malloy, but of course he’s not pure enough for you and the gun nuts. 

To call McKinney a RINO is ridiculous, but hey! it’s your party and you can cry if you want to (oblique reference to the 60’s when the R’s actually cared about governing instead of leading moral crusades).