Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton ended his gubernatorial bid and joined Lt. Gov. Michael Fedele’;s campaign for governor Monday, changing the dynamics of the Republican contest.
The first pairing of Republican candidates is expected to help Fedele gain some momentum heading into the Republican nominating convention this weekend.
“I think this puts us much further ahead,” in the delegate count, Fedele said. But he wouldn’t say just how far ahead or behind the campaign may be.
“We’re not taking anything for granted.”
Boughton, who was thought to be running a close third in the run up to the convention, said he believed he had the 15 percent of delegates necessary to qualify for the primary.
“We knew that delegates weren’t our problem. We knew that qualifying was,” Boughton said referring to his campaign’s ability to raise the $250,000 in small donations.
Both Fedele and Boughton were participating in the Citizens’ Election Program. Democrat Dannel Malloy is the only candidate in the race at the moment who has qualified for the program.
Fedele said he believes he’s about a week or so away from raising the $250,000 to qualify for the public campaign finance grant of $1.25 million. That amount will increase if one of his opponents pours millions of dollars into the race.
The scenario is likely since Greenwich millionaire Tom Foley has opted out of the public financing system and has decided to fund his own campaign. As of March 31, Foley, the frontrunner in the polls, had raised about $2.4 million and had $1.5 million cash in hand.
Boughton has also been participating in the public campaign system, but he won’t be able to take the $60,000 he raised in the governor’s race with him to the race for lieutenant governor. Boughton said he will be calling his 800 donors and asking them to contribute to his campaign for lieutenant governor.
Boughton, who has served as Danbury’s mayor since 2001, said his decision to end his gubernatorial campaign was made with the best interest of the state in mind.
“This campaign, this election is not about me and frankly it’s not about Mike. It’s about the working men and women of Connecticut,” Boughton told a crowd of supporters Monday at the state Capitol.
“We can not let the Democratic legislature spend one more nickel, one more dime, until they’ve made the difficult decisions to downsize and right-size the scope of government in Connecticut,” Boughton said. “No fees, no taxes, no tolls. Our taxpayers have had enough.”
Fedele, who announced his candidacy moments after Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell said she wasn’t running for re-election back in November, has been lagging behind Greenwich businessman Tom Foley in the polls. Fedele has said he expected Rell’s endorsement of his candidacy, but Rell has been silent on the issue.
Fedele said he hopes the formation of a Fedele-Boughton ticket will help change her mind.
When Fedele spoke with Rell Sunday she was “very excited about Mark being our candidate,“ Fedele said. “Our hopes are that she is excited and expresses that excitement in public in the near future.”
Former Congressman Larry DeNardis, R. Nelson “Oz” Griebel, and C. Duffy Acevedo of Branford will be competing against Fedele and Foley for the nomination. Shelton Mayor Mark Lauretti also intends to petition his way onto the Republican ballot. And Chester First Selectman Tom Marsh, who was running as a Republican, will run with the Independent Party.
Foley’s campaign says he will announce his preferences for lieutenant governor later today.