Boughton makes run for governor official
By Rob Ryser Wednesday, January 10, 2018
DANBURY — Mayor Mark Boughton on his first day as a declared gubernatorial candidate touted his idea to phase out the state income tax and streamline Connecticut’s government as the sort of leadership voters want.
“Now I know what you are saying — ‘That’s impossible. It can’t be done’ — but the fact of the matter is the times demand that we think differently and we think outside of the bureaucratic box when it comes to how we govern our state,” Boughton said during a Tuesday news conference. “I believe that our financial distress that I call the death spiral in the state of Connecticut can only be fixed by a radical approach to how we govern.”
For example, Boughton said the Board of Regents had “basically become a dumping ground for political appointments for people who, frankly, couldn’t find a job in the private sector,” and could save the state as much as $10 million if eliminated.
“The state income tax is about $7.5 billion in revenue every two years, and the assumption everybody has is you need that money to run government,” Boughton said. “Part of our plan is to reduce the size and scope of state government with things like eliminating departments, combining departments and a wholesale reorganization of pretty much everything.”
The 53-year-old Republican, who is serving a record ninth term as mayor, made his third run for the state’s highest office in as many elections official at the brief and formal news news conference at the Courtyard Marriott. He later attended an hourlong rally for supporters in the evening at the Palace Theatre in downtown Danbury.
State Democrats were ready for his announcement on Tuesday with a lengthy statement from party Chairman Nick Balletto that was critical of Boughton’s record on immigration and his allegiance with parts of President Donald Trump’s agenda.
“Mark Boughton is nothing more than a cut out of Donald Trump’s Republican Party,” the statement said. “Boughton’s record shows he’d bring Trump’s agenda to Connecticut: divisive attacks on immigrant communities, an NRA anti-safety agenda on guns and a record of opposition to a woman’s right to choose.”
A Boughton campaign spokesman dismissed the statement as “laughable.”
“No amount of misinformation or spin can save the Connecticut Democrats from their abysmal record of ruining our state,” said John Kleinhans.
Boughton did take one question after his Tuesday announcement about the Trump effect on Connecticut’s 2018 gubernatorial race, but the Danbury mayor redirected it at unpopular incumbent Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, who is not seeking re-election.
“[T]here is a consensus in the state, based on the latest polling, that Gov. Malloy hurt the Democrats more than Donald Trump could ever hurt the Republicans,” Boughton said. “At the end of the day, this election is about Connecticut — not the national conversation that is going on.”
Boughton’s first test as a declared candidate for the GOP nomination comes Wednesday at a Republican debate in Hebron.
As many as 10 GOP hopefuls could attend, including state Sen. Toni Boucher, former Trumbull First Selectman Tim Herbst, Fairfield immigration lawyer Peter Lumaj and former U.S. Comptroller General Dave Walker.
Boughton said he would emerge as the most electable GOP candidate — in part because he has already raised the minimum $250,000 in small donations needed to qualify for millions in state public campaign financing.
Lack of financing was the reason Boughton dropped out of the 2014 gubernatorial campaign.
With the funding hurdle cleared, state residents should expect to hear from Boughton about his economic plan over the winter and spring months.
“In my first year of office we are going to reduce 15 percent of all executive order regulations that impact the business environment, and we are going to stop doing things like raiding the special transportation fund that is supposed to be used to fix our highways, bridges and roads,” Boughton said Tuesday. “We are going to rebuild our relationship with our businesses across the state of Connecticut.”
He added that he planned to implement “a pro-growth approach to our economy.”
“I want to create a one-stop permit center for the state of Connecticut, where you could be issued your permit in a matter of weeks instead of a matter of years,” Boughton said.
The mayor also answered a question about his health. In August, Boughton underwent emergency life-saving surgery to remove a brain tumor.
He emerged from that experience a changed man, he said. Some 300 guests at an annual business luncheon in December saw that when Boughton chose to close his state-of-the-city speech on a decidedly religious note, saying “There are no atheists in the ICU.”
“I have been open and honest about the impact that type of surgery had on the way I look at people and the way I govern,” Boughton during Tuesday’s news conference, adding that he would be happy to provide health documents to substantiate his fitness. “I am 100 percent back, and I feel great — I certainly feel a lot better than before the surgery.”