Don’t Underestimate Boughton in Potential GOP Gubernatorial Primary

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Political tongues have been wagging lately with the entry of state Senate Minority Leader John McKinney’s entry into the 2014 race for the Republican nomination for governor, an interestingly harsh piece by former state Capitol reporter Greg Hladky and the silly “No, you’re being coy” back and forth between 2014 GOP nominee Tom Foley and the man he lost to, Gov. Dannel Malloy. Sitting back and staying out of the fray is Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton who is the wildcard in all of this.

Some time ago I wrote on a Facebook thread (something I try to avoid) that Foley was the man to beat for the nomination. Bougton didn’t like it and responded with an “Oh, ok Pat. I guess getting votes doesn’t matter.” Since then, I still believe Foley is the man to beat but I have certainly been rethinking Boughton’s chances.

If he enters the race, he can do so as the candidate who has not been involved in the nonsense that has sometimes plagued the legislature (McKinney), has no chance of being compared to Mitt Romney or (God forbid) Linda McMahon and doesn’t want to make Connecticut an east coast Wisconsin. Boughton can fly higher and position himself as a fresh face on the statewide political scene that can beat Malloy. Yes, he was Foley’s running mate in 2010 but that doesn’t exactly translate in the average voter’s mind. And I’m sure Boughton has a new-found dislike of his former political partner when Foley went on WFSB’s Face the State and said he could have beaten Malloy if he had a woman as his second.

Should Boughton catch lightening in a bottle and win the nomination (and he hasn’t even declared he’s running), he will be smacked around by Malloy as an enemy of Hispanics as Hdlaky details. That could spell trouble for Boughton in the state’s big cities, a demographic that put Malloy over the top last time and an area that in which any Republican nominee needs to make inroads to win.

The other problem Boughton faces is also described by Hladky—he is a moderate Republican. That means he can compete in a general election but has to get through a primary that might be dominated by lower Fairfield County voters (Foley is from Greenwich, McKinney is from Fairfield).

In any event, Boughton would be a refreshing addition to the GOP primary race. He’s personally likeable, smart and has a good sense of humor (he recently tweeted from a bear-in-a-tree rescue scene complete with photos)—something that is often missing from a statewide race. For political followers like The Shad, this could be fun.