Interviews

Republicans endorse Boughton for Governor

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Mark Boughton celebrates after winning the convention endorsement (Courtesy: AP)

After months of waiting and speculation, Mark Boughton won the Republican endorsement at the state convention at Foxwoods Resort and Casino. With a field of 10 candidates it was difficult to know who would make it to the primary. While the state convention is a place where candidates can qualify for the primary, it is really a place for Republicans to gather and hopefully unify for the general election. This was not the case yesterday at Foxwoods. There are 10 candidates vying for the Republican nomination. However, only 8 candidates participated in the convention. Greenwich businessman David Stemerman and Madison businessman Bob Stefanowski choose to bypass the convention and collect 10,000 signatures from registered Republicans to qualify for the primary. The candidates who participated in the convention were Mark Boughton, Mike Handler, Tim Herbst, Mark Lauretti, Peter Lumaj, Steve Obsitnik, Prasad Srinivasan, and David Walker. To qualify for the primary at the convention candidates needed to receive at least 15% of the delegate vote on any of the ballots cast. A change from previous conventions was that in order to move on after the first vote, a candidate needed to receive at least 8% of the vote and 15% after the second vote. As the first ballot was underway candidates were scrambling across the convention floor trying to make deals and retain as well as gain delegate support. After the first ballot the field thinned to 6 people. Mike Handler only received around 4% of the vote and State Representative Prasad Srinivasan missed the threshold by 1 vote with 7.94%. Srinivasan endorsed Tim Herbst for Governor while Handler may try to collect signatures to get to the primary. On this ballot both Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton and former Trumbull First Selectman Tim Herbst qualified for the primary. The excitement continued as the second round of voting started. With 6 people remaining it would be a tall order for a candidate to receive the needed 50% for the endorsement on this ballot. The surprise from this ballot was the vote tally of Steve Obsitnik. The Westport tech entrepreneur and Naval veteran was able to receive just under 18% of the vote, qualifying for the August primary. Former US Comptroller General David Walker, Shelton Mayor Mark Lauretti, Peter Lumaj were all eliminated in the second ballot. Lauretti is considering a petition drive while Lumaj and Walker ruled out the option. The balloting for Governor began at 1pm and it was approaching 6pm as the third ballot started. Delegates were tired and many wished to spend some time at the casino just steps away. Steve Obsitnik, Mark Boughton, and Tim Herbst all made it to the third ballot. As the third ballot went on it looked like they would have to do a fourth ballot to get an endorsement. This is when the real excitement started. After the third ballot was completed Boughton and Herbst had around 40% each with Obsitnik at 20%. As the rules stated, delegates could switch their vote after the regular voting was complete on the ballot. Slowly Mark Boughton started to gain delegates from Herbst and Obsitnik. Boughton eventually reached 50.14% of the vote which is 1.5 votes more than he needed. In order for Boughton to get the endorsement their needs to be a vote to close balloting for Governor. This is when chaos began. Herbst supporters were yelling “NO” very loud for the vote. In order to see what the vote was the room was cleared of all people besides delegates and media. A standing count vote was done and Boughton received the nomination. The third time was the charm for Boughton who has ran for the office three times now. The endorsement gives Boughton the top spot on the ballot and a lot of momentum. Herbst and Obsitnik also qualified for the August 14th primary. It is expected to be a crowded primary with a few more expected to gather signatures. Democrats are meeting next Friday at the Hartford Convention Center and Saturday for their state convention.

 

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