Hugh McQuaid file photo
Shelton Mayor Mark Lauretti and Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton at the Republican convention in May (Hugh McQuaid file photo)

With a few hours left Tuesday in a petition drive to get Shelton Mayor Mark Lauretti on the Republican primary ballot, Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton’s campaign manager said he was “cautiously optimistic.”

Heath W. Fahle, Boughton’s campaign manager, said about 18 teams spent the day turning in petition sheets to about 88 towns. In the end the number is likely to be closer to 100 towns, since there were volunteers collecting signatures who turned in their petition sheets on their own to the town, instead of first turning them into the campaign.

“We obviously enjoy a base of support in Danbury and Shelton, but this was a statewide movement,” Fahle said.

In order to qualify for the Aug. 12 ballot as a candidate lieutenant governor Lauretti needs the signatures of 8,190 Republican voters. Fahle said the campaign has collected more than that in order to give itself a buffer in case some of the signatures are disqualified.

The Registrar of Voters in each of those towns will then have seven days to verify the signatures, according to Av Harris, a spokesman for Secretary of the State Denise Merrill. The signatures will then have to be certified by Merrill’s office “forthwith.”

For Boughton’s gubernatorial campaign the stakes in this petition drive are high. Boughton needs Lauretti’s help in raising the $250,000 in funds necessary to qualify for the Citizens’ Election Program. Lauretti, who has little name recognition outside of Shelton, was able to raise more than $100,000 in small donations in his brief run for governor.

When Lauretti didn’t receive enough support at the Republican convention to gain ballot access he decided to drop down to the lieutenant governor’s race. Now the only way he can get on the ballot is through the petition drive, which he started at the end of May.

State Rep. Penny Bacchiochi, former U.S. Comptroller David Walker, and Heather Somers, who had been unofficially teamed up with Boughton during the convention, have all secured a spot on the Aug. 12 Republican primary ballot as lieutenant governor candidates.

Boughton, who has raised about $150,000 on his own, had been counting on the money Somers raised to reach the $250,000 threshold, but after the convention Somers decided to go it alone.

Tom Foley, who Boughton ran with in 2010 after being paired with him by Republican voters, claims he raised the $250,000 he needs in order to qualify for the public financing. Sen. John McKinney teamed with Walker at the convention and the two plan on reaching the $250,000 threshold this summer.

Republican voters won’t know until some time after June 17 whether Lauretti’s name will appear on the ballot.