Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton had been teamed up with Heather Bond Somers, but last week he was offering state Rep. Penny Bacchiochi his full-throated support.
Boughton, who dropped out of the race for governor in June, spent Thursday morning giving Bacchiochi, the Republican endorsed candidate for lieutenant governor, a tour of Danbury.
The tour started at MannKind Corporation where Bacchiochi learned how the company will begin manufacturing an inhaled form of insulin. Currently, insulin for diabetics can only be administered through injection.
Company officials, who opened the Danbury facility in 2007, received FDA approval for the drug and the delivery method last month. They are hoping to bring it to market within the next six months.
Juergen Martens, corporate vice president of pharmaceutical development and technical operations, said the biggest hurdles the company had to overcome were with the FDA. He said they didn’t have any problems with local taxes or permitting.
Boughton said the city gave the company some tax credits and expedited the permitting when the facility was being renovated. The building, which was a surgical equipment manufacturing facility, had been vacant for about 15 years.
Neither former Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell nor Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy have visited the company, according to company officials.
“We hope to see you back here when you win your election,” Martens told Bacchiochi.
From MannKind Corporation, it was a quick trip to JK’s Restaurant — home of the famous “Texas Weiner.”
“Don’t call it a hot dog,” Boughton warned Bacchiochi. “It’s a weiner.”
An institution in Danbury that has been around for 90 years, JK’s Restaurant is where Boughton brought Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Foley in 2010 after the two were merged onto the same ticket by Republican primary voters.
Boughton said he never brought Bacchiochi’s opponent, Heather Bond Somers, to JK’s with him.
But the location is a favorite haunt of Somers’ campaign consultant Richard Foley, the former chairman of the Connecticut Republican Party. After a quick scan of the parking lot, Boughton’s staff determined that Foley’s vehicle was not there and an awkward encounter would be avoided.
After running with Boughton for months, Somers decided after the Republican convention in May to go it alone. The decision ultimately cost Boughton a chance to qualify for public financing, which has been seen as a necessary hurdle in the race for governor.
“I think there are a lot of people in the Republican Party wondering how trustworthy is a lieutenant governor candidate, who can’t keep a promise to a gubernatorial candidate,” Bacchiochi told Dennis House during a taping of “Face the State” later that same day. “But that’s not for me to decide. That’s something for the voters to decide.”
Last week in a radio ad, Somers accused Bacchiochi of being an “insider” who accepted money to lobby for medical marijuana and who more recently called another candidate “racist” before being forced to “retract her ugly comments.”
The narrator in the ad continues: “Don’t let Penny Bacchiochi blow Republicans’ chances to take down Dan Malloy’s job-crushing agenda.”
Bacchiochi makes no apologies for lobbying for medical marijuana, the only drug that eased the terminal cancer pain of her now-deceased former husband. And she believes she’s apologized for the comments she made about David Walker, the third candidate in the race, prior to the May convention.
“I’m running an issue-based campaign. I am running on my record, my achievements, my successes, and most importantly what I can deliver to the voters of Connecticut. As far as I can tell, David Walker is doing the same thing,” Bacchiochi told House. “So the blistering attacks my Groton opponent threw my way, I don’t think voters want to see us attack each other. I think they want to run on a positive message of what we can do.”
She said at the end of the day a negative campaign is going to hurt the Republican Party. There are still some who believe former Lt. Gov. Michael Fedele’s attack ads against Tom Foley in 2010 cost Foley the election.
“This type of negative campaigning really hurts us as Republicans,” Bacchiochi said. “I’m frankly disappointed and embarrassed that this is going on.”
Boughton, who describes himself as a “blue collar” Republican, has much more in common with Bacchiochi than he did with Somers. But the timing was never right for the two to team up together this year.
“She’s a person of conviction and a person of her word who will do a good job as lieutenant governor,” Boughton said Thursday.
When Boughton ended his campaign in June he endorsed both Bacchiochi and Foley in the same press release.
And while they won’t be running mates, Bacchiochi and Boughton will be spending plenty of time together over the next few weeks.
The Greater Danbury area is home to about 13 percent of the likely Republican voters in the Aug. 12 primary, and Bacchiochi said she plans to make it a weekly stop on her schedule.