Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton received the Republican Party’s endorsement for governor on Saturday by a narrow margin at the GOP state convention.
After three rounds of voting, Boughton won the nomination, receiving one vote above the 50 percent requirement, while former Trumbull First Selectman Tim Herbst received roughly 40 percent of the vote. Following second-round cuts, only Boughton, Herbst and Westport tech entrepreneur Steve Obsitnik qualified for the Aug. 14 Republican primary. Boughton, a 54-year-old who is currently in his ninth term as Danbury mayor, is an Army veteran and a former highschool teacher. He also served as a state representative for three years before running for mayor of Danbury.
“The most important thing we can do [to] get a Republican governor [is to] get all our constitutional officers elected, get a state house that is Republican, a state Senate that is Republican,” Boughton said at the convention podium after he received the nomination. “And we are going to do it together, working together as a team.”
Coming into a convention that had no real frontrunner, nine candidates originally vyed for the party’s endorsement. But following New Britain Mayor Erin Stewart’s surprise move at the start of the convention to immediately run for the party’s endorsement for lieutenant governor, as well as the first-round eliminations of Stamford Director of Administration Mike Handler and state Rep. Prasad Srinivasan of Glastonbury, the field was narrowed to six.
The three rounds of voting at this year’s convention made it the first time a Connecticut GOP convention has had multiple rounds of balloting since 1962. When no candidate received above 50 percent of the vote in the first two rounds, delegates began switching their votes in the third round in an effort to reach a majority. The chaos forced Convention Chairman Themis Klarides to ask that the hall be cleared of everyone except the 1,125 voting delegates.
The convention also featured a vote for lieutenant governor, in which state Sen. Joe Markley, R-Southington, was endorsed over Darien First Selectman Jayme Stevenson, Columbia First Selectman Steven Everett and Stewart.
With a primary to come later in the summer, other gubernatorial hopefuls who did not participate in the convention are still seeking to represent the Republican Party in the 2018 gubernatorial race.
David Stemerman ’90, a Greenwich hedge fund manager, and Madison millionaire Bob Stefanowski are hoping to secure a place on the primary ballot by petition, which requires collecting approximately 9,000 signatures.
In a press release issued during the Republican convention on Saturday, the Connecticut Democrats declared that “Trump is clearly a winner” at the convention. Connecticut Democratic Party Communications Director Christina Polizzi said the Republican candidates have embraced Trump and “actively campaigned on his policies and his rhetoric.”
The state Democratic Party also criticized Boughton’s attire, saying he gave a “special nod to the President by wearing a Trump golf course polo to the convention.”
The Democratic state convention will take place on May 18 and 19.
Ashna Gupta | firstname.lastname@example.org