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Wilton Senator Surprises Some With Gubernatorial Exploration

by | Aug 28, 2013 5:30am () Comments | Commenting has expired | Share
Posted to: Campaign Finance, Election 2014, Town News, Wilton

Christine Stuart photo In her trademark red suit, Sen. Toni Boucher, a Republican from Wilton, chose to announce her exploratory bid for governor at a gazebo in Naugatuck Tuesday surrounded by family and friends.

Boucher and her family immigrated to Naugatuck from Italy when she was five years old.

Rumored to be a contender for lieutenant governor before Tuesday Boucher surprised some political insiders when she mentioned the position she’s really interested in is governor. Under campaign finance rules, Boucher isn’t allowed to say definitely she’s running for governor because it would mean she forfeits the ability to use an exploratory committee to raise $250,000 and qualify for public funding.

The move is a strategic one for the 63-year-old who started her political career on the Wilton Board of Education.

The exploratory committee allows candidates to find out how much support they have from their party and tests their fundraising ability, Boucher said.

“It saves the public a lot of money, don’t you think, before everybody is out there actually being a candidate,” Boucher said.

In making her pitch Tuesday, Boucher painted herself as someone who can straddle both the blue collar world of Naugatuck and the affluent world of Wilton and the six other communities she represents as a state senator. She said she was the highest vote getter out off all 36 state Senators in 2012 and has the ability to appeal to a general election audience.

A politician with 17 years of legislative experience she gracefully brushed off a question about whether she thought it was sexist that people would assume she would go for the number two spot instead of the top spot.

“It would be disappointing if people looked at a candidate in that way,” Boucher said.

She said people should ask themselves if the candidates are competent and have the skill set necessary to bring people together to improve the state’s fiscal condition. The gender of the a candidate shouldn’t matter.

After a meeting with reporters in Hartford later Tuesday afternoon, one of Boucher’s volunteers conceded it absolutely was sexist to assume she would be seeking the number two spot.

Boucher said the most important job the governor has is saving the state from “financial ruin.”
At the end of the day, that’s all that’s going to matter to the voters, she said.

Chris O'Brien photo Republican Party Chairman Jerry Labriola Jr. who sought to avoid a Republican primary for the state’s top spot, was in Naugatuck Tuesday for Boucher’s announcement. He welcomed her to the increasingly crowded field of candidates.

Currently, the only two Republicans officially running for governor include Sen. John McKinney of Fairfield, and Joe Visconti of West Hartford. Earlier this month Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton announced that like Boucher he was exploring a run for governor.

Tom Foley, the Republican candidate in 2010, is also expected to get into the race. Foley self-funded his 2010 race, but the rest of the candidates seem to be relying on some form of public financing.

But Boucher set her sights on Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy in her prepared remarks Tuesday.

“This administration seems to think that taxpayers’ wallets are bottomless and that government has an unlimited license to spend,” she said.

She recounted Malloy’s 2011 tax increase and the state employees’ contract that included four years of job security for state workers. “Then, the following year, when people and businesses were still reeling from more than 70 new taxes totaling $3.7 billion, the state was again facing another huge deficit,” she added.

Asked what she thought about her Republican colleagues with their eye on the governor’s office, Boucher said “I think anyone of them would do a better job than the current administration.”

Boucher described herself as a fiscal conservative and a social moderate. However, the later she admits, depends on the particular issue. Boucher fought hard against efforts to legalize medical marijuana and decriminalize small amounts of it, but she supports a woman’s right to choose and emergency contraception for rape victims.

When asked about her age Boucher paraphrased former President Ronald Reagan’s attempt to defuse the issue of his age in a debate with Walter Mondale. “I don’t mean to criticize the lack of experience of my opponents,” she quipped paraphrasing Reagan’s statement.

“There is a lot to be said for going through a lot of challenging times and bills and budgets,” Boucher said.

Boucher doesn’t plan on giving up her job in order to run for office. She said it’s a luxury she doesn’t have.

Boucher is the director of the Common Fund Institute, the educational and research arm of Common Fund, a $28 billion nonprofit fund manager for 1,500 educational, nonprofit, and healthcare institutions started by the Ford Foundation in 1971.

In the exploratory phase Boucher will be able to raise $375 per person, but only $100 of that contribution will be allowed to be carried over to a candidate committee, if she decides to run.

Boucher set no timetable for herself to declare if she would go beyond exploring at some point and make an announcement. Boughton has said he would make a decision in January 2014. 

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(8) Archived Comments

posted by: Stan Muzyk | August 28, 2013  10:58am

Sen. Toni Boucher looks good to me as an exploring Republican candidate for Governor “and—a breath of fresh air” to challenge “expected to run,” Gov. Dannel P.Malloy.

posted by: ASTANVET | August 28, 2013  10:59am

I will have to check her voting record, but you cannot be a member of the State government for 17 years and not have a voting record that is far from ‘fiscally conservative’.  It is my guess that she has supported (through votes) a lot of the big spending problems, tax increases, and encroachments on individual liberties we have come to expect from Hartford.  So I will do my homework but if any of that is true - she will not get my vote.  Saying you are a ‘fiscal conservative’ and being one are two different things.

posted by: Chien DeBerger | August 28, 2013  1:50pm

She voted in support of quashing the rights of hundred of thousands of lawfully armed Connecticut citizens. She will get the same support from me as John McKinney will. NONE! Semper Fi!

posted by: Tessa Marquis | August 28, 2013  2:30pm

@ASTANVET Voting Record here: http://votesmart.org/candidate/17217/toni-boucher#.Uh5BGT98QQo

posted by: Lawrence | August 28, 2013  2:38pm

“Saying you are a ‘fiscal conservative’ and being one are two different things.”

ASTANVET, Toni Boucher has made a small career out of seeking to eliminate the citizens election fund she is now turning to in order to fund her own higher office run in CT.

Is that “fiscally conservative” enough for you?

If not, please feel free to turn to her Senate Republican web page, where she welcomes with flowery language a $250,000 state grant that is part of the biennial state bonding package that she voted AGAINST just a few short months ago.

Is THAT ‘fiscally conservative’ enough for you??

“Many communities in Connecticut are trying to create a safer and more walkable environment for their residents,” State Senator Toni Boucher (R-Bethel, New Canaan, Redding, Ridgefield, Weston, Westport, Wilton) said. “The STEAP grant awarded to Bethel will help the town increase pedestrian access to its downtown area by funding sidewalk replacement and construction at a busy and often unsafe intersection. The grant will also be used to improve safety at the town’s municipal center. I am pleased that the state will be supporting Bethel on this project.”

posted by: Joebigjoe | August 28, 2013  4:11pm

No vote from me. I appreciate her service but stands no chance. Right now its Foleys to lose. The way he locks it down is he appeals to lawful gun owners and says that the bill needs to be replaced with one that will legitimately have a big impact on guns in the hands of criminals. I may not like the new bill either but if it can not take away my rights and show a link to reducing murders by thugs, it needs to replace what we have.

posted by: Lawrence | August 28, 2013  4:21pm

Thanks for the link, Tessa.

Here’s most of what you need to know: Boucher is IN FAVOR OF INCREASING STATE SPENDING on most all levels (except for that horrible, horrible ‘welfare’ comprised almost entirely of elderly CT residents and kids), but ALSO WANTS TO CUT MOST TAXES.

Now, tell me again, how does that work in the REAL WORLD?? Increase spending but cut taxes?

State Budget: Indicate what state funding levels (#1-6) you support for the following general categories. Select one level per category, you can use a number more than once.

Slightly Increase a) Education (Higher)

Greatly Increase b) Education (K-12)

Maintain Status c) Emergency preparedness

Slightly Increase d) Environment

Slightly Increase e) Health care

Slightly Increase f) Law enforcement

Greatly Increase g) Transportation and highway infrastructure

Slightly Decrease h) Welfare

i) Other or expanded categories

State Taxes: Indicate what state tax levels (#1-6) you support for the following general categories. Select one level per category, you can use a number more than once.

Slightly Increase a) Alcohol taxes

Greatly Increase b) Cigarette taxes

Greatly Decrease c) Corporate taxes

Greatly Decrease d) Gasoline taxes

Greatly Decrease e) Income taxes (incomes below $75,000)

Greatly Decrease f) Income taxes (incomes above $75,000)

Slightly Increase g) Sales taxes

Greatly Decrease h) Vehicle taxes

i) Other or expanded categories

No 1) Should state sales taxes be extended to Internet sales?

Undecided 2) Should accounts such as a “rainy day” fund be used to balance the state budget?

No 3) Should fee increases be used to balance the state budget?

Yes 4) Should the business entity tax be repealed?

Yes 5) Should the business entity tax be repealed on small businesses?

6) Other or expanded principles

posted by: ASTANVET | August 29, 2013  9:19am

Lawrence - if what you cite proves to be true, I would find myself in the uncomfortable position of agreeing with you… (little joke there) - I just can’t support anyone who wants to increase spending.  I would like lower taxes, but with a corresponding decrease in spending and streamlining of state services to cut costs.

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