DANBURY, CT — This time is different for Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton.
The nine-term mayor who just had brain surgery this summer has raised the money he needs to qualify for public financing.
In 2014, Boughton fell short of the support he needed from inside the Republican Party to get on the primary ballot.
At a news conference announcing his official entrance into the 2018 race, Boughton said that in 2014 he received about 30 percent of the delegates at the Republican Party convention. That was enough to primary, but he said many party members felt that since the 2010 election was so close Tom Foley should get a second chance to challenge Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy. Boughton ended up suspending his campaign that year and throwing his support to Foley.
On Tuesday in a conference room at the Courtyard Marriott, Boughton said not completing the fundraising before the convention in 2014 was a barrier for his candidacy. But it’s one he’s already overcome this year.
“People will now know we have the money,” Boughton said. “People will be more apt to come out and be supportive.”
He said he also feels there’s a desire to elect somebody who is “electable.” He said the party has tried the “rich guy thing and it hasn’t worked out very well.”
At least two of the Republican candidates in the field have contributed large amounts of money to their campaign and at least one of the two has not participated in the Republican-sponsored debates in Windsor and Hebron.
In 2016, when Boughton formed his committee to explore a 2018 run, he said he would get out of the race if he was unable to raise the money by January 2018.
While he hasn’t filed his paperwork yet, Boughton said his campaign has raised $272,000, surpassing the $250,000 threshold in qualifying contributions. Candidates who receive their party’s backing will head to the primary with a $1.4 million grant from the Citizens Election Program. Then if they make it past the primary they will receive $6.5 million for the General Election.
Boughton is one of several mayors and dozens of candidates vying for his party’s nomination.
He has some big ideas for the state, too.
Boughton says he wants to phase out the income tax, which accounted for $9.5 billion in revenue to the state in 2017. That’s 49 percent of all revenue the state receives.
Boughton said he believes phasing out the income tax fits into his plan to reduce the size of state government. He said the State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition agreement, which doesn’t expire until 2027, makes it harder to accomplish, but not impossible.
He noted a recent Internal Revenue Service report, which showed those who left the state between 2015 and 2016 took $6 billion in adjusted gross income with them, as one of the reasons the tax is no longer helpful. Those who moved into Connecticut only brought with them $3.36 billion creating a loss of $2.7 billion in taxable income.
He said they need to keep wealthy individuals in the state and eliminating the income tax might be enough motivation to get them to stay.
Boughton’s other big idea is to eliminate legislative control of the Education Cost Sharing grant.
“We want to get education spending out of the state legislature’s hands,” Boughton said. “That means we don’t want any one legislator arguing that his city or town, because he has more influence or power, should get more money than another city or town.”
The Supreme Court is expected to release a decision soon in a case involving how the state distributes education aid.
Asked whether he thought controversy surrounding Republican President Donald Trump would have a negative impact on his campaign, Boughton said he thinks Gov. Malloy hurts the Democrats in Connecticut more than Trump could ever hurt the Republicans.
“At the end of the day this election is about Connecticut. It’s not about the national conversation that’s going on,” Boughton said. “It’s about what happens in our state and how do we get this state of ours back on a road that all of us remember.”
Boughton, who got divorced in 2016 and would be a bachelor governor, said brain surgery has made him a better person. He said he may have been a little selfish in the past and is now more attentive to others.
Boughton said he may make his medical records available to delegates and would make his surgeon available to the media if that becomes an issue.
“I’m 100 percent. I’m back in action and I feel great,” he said.