Christine Stuart / ctnewsjunkie
Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton celebrates (Christine Stuart / ctnewsjunkie)

MASHANTUCKET — Republican Party delegates helped thin the number of gubernatorial candidates, at least momentarily, when they gave Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton their endorsement Saturday at their convention.

Former Trumbull First Selectman Tim Herbst and Westport businessman Steve Obsitnik received enough support to primary.

Boughton, who had brain surgery last year, was able to clinch the party’s endorsement for a second time. It took about four hours and three ballots to whittle down the choices from seven.

“First of all I’m grateful to be alive,” Boughton said.

Boughton, who has run at least three times for governor, went into the convention with the most experience, but he’s never won the endorsement.

“We feel good about where we are. There’s a lot of candidates in the field,” Boughton said when the convention opened. “Largest field of candidates I’ve ever seen.”

Herbst said he’s going to give Republican primary voters a choice about the future direction of the state.

“It’s not going to be decided by party insiders,” Herbst said.

Christine Stuart / ctnewsjunkie
Tim Herbst congratulates Mark Boughton (Christine Stuart / ctnewsjunkie)

Obsitnik will also primary.

The rules dictated that there will be no switching on the first vote and any candidate with less than 8 percent on that ballot will drop out. Switches will be allowed on the second ballot where the threshold will increase to 15 percent.

There were 1,133 delegates who were present and voting at the convention. Eight percent was 91 votes and 15 percent is 170 votes.

To win a candidate must receive a majority of the vote, but as long as they reach 15 percent on the first ballot they qualify for the August primary.

Mike Handler, chief financial officer in the City of Stamford and Rep. Prasad Srinivasan of Glastonbury fell below the 8 percent threshold on the first vote. Srinivasan missed the threshold by one vote.

Boughton, Herbst, Obsitnik, Shelton Mayor Mark Lauretti, Peter Lumaj, and David Walker received enough support to make it to the second ballot.

Boughton got 277 on the first ballot, followed by Herbst with 213, Lumaj with 167, Lauretti with 119, Obsitnik with 117 and Walker with 104.

It meant that Boughton and Herbst gained enough support on the first ballot to guarantee a spot on the primary ballot.

The second ballot saw the disappearance of Lauretti, Lumaj, and Walker, who didn’t receive the 15 percent they needed. Leaving Boughton, Herbst, and Westport businessman Obsitnik, who gained enough support on the second ballot to primary.

The question at that point was what a Republican ticket will look like and where will the support go?

Christine Stuart / ctnewsjunkie
Steve Obsitnik talks with delegates (Christine Stuart / ctnewsjunkie)

Those who support Boughton were also looking to vote for New Britain Mayor Erin Stewart as lieutenant governor. Those who supported Lumaj and were looking to give their support to Sen. Joe Markley for lieutenant governor and seemed to give their votes to Herbst.

Those who were upset about both Boughton and Herbst gave their votes to Obsitnik.

When it came time to switch votes the delegates began to understand the only way they were going to avoid a fourth ballot was to give their votes to Boughton or Herbst.

As it became obvious that Boughton would get over the 50 percent threshold there was a motion for the vote to be closed. There was a dispute over the voice vote taken and whether to close the nomination process. After about 15 minutes of back-and-forth party officials closed the nominations and announced Boughton as the endorsed candidate.

You can watch the drama from beginning to end in our Facebook video at the end of this article.

Boughton, Herbst and Obsitnik won’t likely be the only ones of the ballot in August.

Republicans David Stemerman and Bob Stefanowski did not participate in the convention process and will be petitioning their way onto the ballot by gathering more than 9,700 signatures from registered Republican voters.

Stemerman and Stefanowski both attended the conventions and hosted delegates in hospitality rooms.

Earlier this week, Handler also requested petitions from the Secretary of the State’s office. Possibly sending a message to the delegates he thought he had secured.

Srinivasan said he was “very disappointed” and hasn’t thought about petitioning his way onto the ballot.

He said he’ll revisit and explore all the options. An allergist, Srinivasan, said he’s decided not to run for his state representative seat again.

It’s unclear if Lumaj will seek to petition his way onto the ballot, but Lauretti said it’s possible he will try. Lauretti attempted to petition his way onto the ballot last year as a lieutenant governor candidate.

Boughton clinches nomination

Posted by on Saturday, May 12, 2018