Boughton Critical of Nomination Process and Campaign Financing

Two weeks after his latest defeat in an attempt to become Connecticut’s next governor, Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton says the state and his own party need to rethink some of the critical stages and parts of the primary and endorsement process.

On the Citizens Election Program, Boughton said he and the other two Republican gubernatorial candidates depending on the program were at a disadvantage from the start.

Bob Stefanowski, who won the nomination, started for paying for television advertising at the beginning of the year, more than five months before any candidate could receive a grant worth $1.3 million for public financing.

“The Citizens Election Campaign hurt us a little bit in the sense that we couldn’t get the money as quick as we wanted to. Bob was on the air early in January. People locked into him and it was tough to get them to move.”

He also said the amount of money provided is inadequate against independently wealthy candidates who can dwarf any CEP grant the moment they enter the race.

“I think 3 million would be right. It’d be a million establish who you are, a million to combat any negative attacks that come through for distortion of your record and about a million to get the vote out,” Boughton said.

Boughton won his party’s endorsement at the Republicans’ convention back in May at Foxwoods. In previous elections the endorsement was viewed as a coveted title with brought with it the top of the ballot in a closed primary, and the title of being the selection among the key decision makers within the state party.

Stefanowski essentially ignored that old process of courting GOP delegates and instead forged his own path to the GOP nomination.

Boughton now describes that path as a playbook for someone to get elected in future elections on either side of the aisle.

“One, you bypass the convention, don’t narrowcast to the 1,100 people who go to the convention, broadcast to the 150,000 people that are watching TV every night, two, you’ve got have $3 million and a check in your pocket the moment you walk in the door and then three you go out and you get the signatures. That’s all you have to do.”

He recommended moving the primary to May for voters to decide on the nominee, and change the convention to a date in the Winter which would still allow party delegates to have their say as to who they feel best represents the party.

Boughton says he took a few days to decompress following the disappointment of Aug. 14. He spent some time in Vermont, and took in a few rounds of golf with friends.

But primary night’s result did have shocking elements to Boughton and his campaign team.

“We really had strong polling all through the weekend,” Boughton said of his campaign’s internal analyses. “Monday night we were leading by six, seven points, so, you know, we did the best we could and I don’t have any regrets.”

In the end, Boughton says voters wanted an outsider when that’s the trend nationwide.

“This is a tough time to be an elected official in any position. People are frustrated, they’re angry. Just having the mark of being somebody who’s served the public, been involved in public service. That’s a negative against you and it’s just a weird time like that.”

He intends on helping Stefanowski to win back the governor’s office for Republicans for the first time since Jodi Rell was governor, but said the obstacles he laid out makes the job far more difficult for anyone, much less Stefanowski.

“Bob, he’s got work to do because he also spent a lot of time just narrowcasting to Republicans and now you’ve got two thirds of the electorate who’s never heard of him so he’ll have his work to do and the clock is ticking. It’s already labor day weekend.”

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