Danbury Mayor Boughton, a Republican known for political success in a Democratic city, narrowly received the Connecticut GOP's endorsement for governor on Saturday.
The 54-year-old former high school teacher will face a primary on Aug. 14, likely from at least three fellow GOP contenders. But in a state with a splintered General Assembly and continued fiscal challenges, he embraced the mantra of this weekend's Republican state convention: working together to finally turn the blue state 'Republican red' in November.
"We're going to do it together, working together as a team," said Boughton, a former two-time gubernatorial contender but never before the party's endorsed candidate. "The time is now for Republican leadership and for Republican values."
Republicans had hoped to emerge from the weekend's political convention with a common message to voters: Their party is the one to finally fix the state's long-standing fiscal problems.
One after another, candidates promised to deliver financial stability and prosperity on Friday and Saturday.
"It's all going to come down to the finances of the state of Connecticut," said Kurt Miller, who was endorsed for comptroller, and faces a potential primary on Aug. 14.
"I think a lot of people are tired of their money going to bloated government for unnecessary spending," he said. "I think these are things that people are going to start to change their mind (and vote Republican)."
There was no dominant front-runner Saturday among the eight gubernatorial candidates nominated, even after three rounds of balloting, numerous voting switches and a feisty debate over whether to close the voting.
Boughton won slightly more than 50 percent, besting former Trumbull Mayor Tim Herbst. Besides Boughton and Herbst, Westport businessman Steve Obsitnik garnered enough support to participate in the primary, if they choose to do so. Meanwhile, two candidates, businessmen David Stemerman and Bob Stefanowski, were not nominated at the event because they've decided to collect the approximately 9,000 signatures needed to appear on the primary ballot.
"I think as we've seen, there is not an overwhelmingly movement for anybody," said Stemerman, who contends Republicans are open to an "outsider" candidate like himself. "What it indicates to me is that none of these candidates have broken through with a message that is really resonating."
Other candidates can also choose to collect signatures to appear on the primary ballot.
The convention at Foxwoods Resort Casino came on the heels of the newly adjourned General Assembly session. Despite bipartisan passage of a revised budget for the second year of last year's two-year budget, the state still faces future deficits and unfunded state pension liabilities. And Republican candidates tried to lay the blame at the feet of the Democrats.
JR Romano, the party's chairman, said regardless of who received the party's backing and who ultimately wins the primary, the GOP is on message.
"If we continue Democrat control, it will be failure for the state of Connecticut. It will be the continuation of failure," he said. "So everyone in this room understands that. That's what unites us. These people are trying to save the state."
But state Democrats, who will hold their convention in Hartford next weekend, are trying to make this year's election about the national political landscape and the president, as much as the situation in Connecticut.
"Let's be very clear, Mark Boughton supports Donald Trump's policies and wants to be his partner in Connecticut," said Democratic Party Chairman Nick Balletto.
Besides Miller, Republicans on Saturday also endorsed state Sen. Joe Markley of Southington as lieutenant governor and Thaddeus "Thad" Gray of Salisbury, a retired investment officer, as the party's candidate for treasurer. Both face potential primary challenges.
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