Apr 30, 2014
07:29 PM
Connecticut Politics

Gubernatorial hopeful Boughton says GOP needs to embrace Connecticut’s cities

Gubernatorial hopeful Boughton says GOP needs to embrace Connecticut’s cities

Peter Casolino/New Haven Register

Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, a Republican gubernatorial hopeful, speaks to the New Haven Register editorial board Wednesday. Behind him is campaign manager Heath Fahle.

With less than three weeks until the Republican nominating convention, gubernatorial hopeful Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton is wrestling for delegates, ambling toward a primary where he hopes he can be his party’s ambassador to the cities, a weak spot for the party in previous elections.

“The Republicans have done a horrible job at communicating their message in the cities. ... I think that part of the problem is Republicans have not respected the people living in the cities and just don’t understand where they’re coming from,” Boughton said. Earlier, he said of himself, “This will be one governor who will pay attention to our cities, who will understand the issues there.”

Boughton, one of several Republican nominees seeking to unseat incumbent Democrat Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, made the comments during an editorial board meeting at the New Haven Register Wednesday.

First, he has to win his party’s nomination, not an easy task.

“Our goal is to get about 15 percent at the convention and make it to the primary, and then have a much broader conversation where all of the residents can participate,” Boughton said.

The Danbury mayor has learned from his first bid for the governor’s seat. Lacking appeal in the state’s eastern towns, Boughton turned to Heather Somers, former mayor of Groton, as his lieutenant governor and running mate this time around.

Boughton faces an uphill climb in gaining the nomination. Tom Foley ran for governor in 2010, holds a substantial lead in the Republican field in a Quinnipiac poll and is considered the frontrunner by political observers.

Boughton and Foley are no strangers. The Danbury mayor landed in the number two spot on the Republican ticket when he won the nomination for lieutenant governor in 2010.

“I will tell you: I’m not running against Tom Foley, I’m running against Dan Malloy,” Boughton said.

Still, in a swipe at the more affluent Foley, Boughton called himself the “Blue Collar Republican,” who’s had the same struggles as the rest of the middle class. He also criticized Foley, former U.S. ambassador to Ireland, for his unwillingness to debate other Republicans.

Boughton spent much of Wednesday’s discussion on “kitchen table” issues, and his own assertion of being a blue-collar Republican has been questioned because of his stance on issues some say show a lack of support for the middle class, such as the minimum wage. Despite his vote as a state representative against an increase to the minimum wage, which Boughton says was due to a stipulation in the bill that would have allowed younger teens to work, the Danbury mayor says he would support a raise in the minimum wage if the economy is “right.”

“That doesn’t mean I would not not support raising the minimum wage in the future,” Boughton said — but having a workforce relying on minimum wage also means more should be done regarding work training to help people.

He also called for an even more aggressive approach to luring businesses to the state. In recent years, Danbury’s been waging a border war with neighboring Westchester County, New York, which offers new businesses 10 years of tax breaks to relocate to the Empire State. Boughton wants to up the ante by offering companies 12 years without business taxes to come to Connecticut.

Gubernatorial hopeful Boughton says GOP needs to embrace Connecticut’s cities

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