It’s one of the state’s six constitutional offices, but the race for lieutenant governor on the Republican side hasn’t attracted too much attention or mudslinging.
The race pits an experienced politician, Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, against a political newcomer, Avon businesswoman Lisa Wilson-Foley.
Boughton is running as Lt. Gov. Michael Fedele’s running mate and Wilson-Foley is running independently, however, whoever wins today will be paired with one of the three Republicans running for governor.
In an interview this July Boughton, who travels with a group of friends he calls his “entourage,” said he sees the role of lieutenant governor an “activist role.” He said the next lieutenant governor will have to be engaged in the process and an advocate for bringing change to the structure of state government.
From right sizing state government to balancing the budget, “Experience does count. Experience does matter, but its gotta be the right kind of experience.”
“When you look at my experience operating within the business world, the governmental world, and the public sector, that’s experience you can’t buy. You can’t put a price tag on it,” Boughton said.
A social studies teacher at Danbury High School for 13 years, Boughton also started a small kitchen and bath design business with his wife. He said he transferred ownership of the business to his wife when he was elected mayor.
Wilson-Foley has said she will cut the budget for the lieutenant governor’s office in half if elected. Her ability to do that relies mostly on her ability not to take a salary.
Click here to read our profile of Wilson-Foley.
“I’ll be very frank I’m taking a salary,” Boughton said. “I’m not wealthy. I’m not rich. I don’t own golf courses or bowling alley’s. I’m a working man from a blue collar city that’s made a very good life for himself.”
“I need to collect a salary, but then you get what you pay for,“ Boughton added. “You don’t pay for anything you’re not going to get any responsibility or accountability to the taxpayers.”
However, Boughton said he doesn’t like to focus on his opponent.
“I’m a positive person and I always focus on what I need to do,” Boughton said. “I manage the seventh largest city, a complex city, with various constituencies and various groups.”
He says there are 24 hours in a day and 23 of them are spent as mayor of Danbury. He said he has about one hour a day to focus on the campaign for lieutenant governor.
At least some of his time as mayor has been spent defending himself and the city in a federal and immigration lawsuit.
This July Boughton had to give a deposition in the case of the 11 day laborers.
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 said an immigration judge ruled in the city’s favor agreeing there were no civil rights violations during the arrests. There is still a federal lawsuit pending against Boughton and the city.
There is no mention of illegal immigration on his campaign website for lieutenant governor. He said that’s because jobs and the economy are at the top of his priority list.
One of the other issues in the campaign has been privately verses publicly finance candidates.
Wilson-Foley has decided to self-fund her campaign in addition to raising contributions privately. Boughton and Fedele teamed up to participate in the public finance system, which means their campaign collectively received $2.5 million. As a joint campaign, all the money is funneled through Fedele’s treasurer giving Boughton little control over the purse strings.
“I’ll have the resources I need to be able to be up on TV to be able to do everything we need to do to run an all out campaign,“ Boughton said. “I had about five weeks to raise $75,000, which would have been impossible without some kind of running head start…I don’t have wealthy friends, I don’t belong to a country club, I don’t travel in those kinds of circles.”
He said the program gave him more time to connect with voters because he didn’t have to be on the phone dialing for dollars.
But his Republican colleagues have criticized his running mate for participating in the system, which is funded through unclaimed property receipts. They argue that money should be used to help reduce the deficit.
Asked what will happen if he’s paired by voters with Tom Foley, the Republican frontrunner, “then I run with Tom Foley,” Boughton said.
“The night of Aug. 10 regardless of who the nominee is, we’ll work together as a team to make sure a Republican is sitting in the governor’s office,” Boughton said.