SEYMOUR — Seymour First Selectman Kurt Miller endorsed Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton at a joint press conference Monday ahead of a Republican gubernatorial primary Aug. 14.
“He’s worked with small towns and big cities, he’s worked with Republicans, he’s worked with Democrats,” Miller said. “It’s going to take someone who has the experience and the ability to bring people together.”
Miller is also running for higher office — state comptroller, a position currently held by Democrat Kevin Lembo.
Boughton previously endorsed Miller’s candidacy. Miller also faces a primary next week against fellow Republican Mark Greenberg. Click here for a primary preview from The Connecticut Post.
Other officials endorsing Boughton and Miller Monday morning included Oxford First Selectman George Temple, Stratford Mayor Laura Hoydick, state Rep. David Labriola of Oxford, state Rep. J.P. Sredzinski of Monroe, and Southbury First Selectman Jeff Manville.
They praised both candidates’ experience leading municipalities, saying their leadership is needed in Hartford.
“Both understand what the state of Connecticut needs right now to move us forward,” Hoydick said.
While Boughton is the state GOP party’s endorsed candidate for governor, he is running against four other men for the Republican nomination in the primary: Tim Herbst, Steve Obsitnik, Bob Stefanowski, and David Stemerman.
But Boughton’s support among Republican leaders in the lower Naugatuck Valley is not unanimous.
He does not have the support of Ansonia Mayor David Cassetti, who supports Herbst, the former Trumbull First Selectman, as does Lorie Vaccaro, president of the Ansonia Board of Aldermen.
In Derby, Mayor Rich Dziekan isn’t announcing an endorsement, chief of staff Andrew Baklik said.
And Shelton Mayor Mark Lauretti, who ran previously for lieutenant governor under Boughton, is not supporting the long-time Danbury mayor, and recently said Boughton reneged on an insider political promise.
Lauretti instead endorsed Stefanowski, a former business executive who lives in Madison.
Minutes before Monday’s press conference, Shelton Aldermen James Capra and Eric McPherson beckoned a reporter to the AutoZone parking lot next to Seymour Town Hall to make a pitch for Herbst.
The two initially supported Lauretti before his bid for governor fizzled out at the party’s convention.
Of the remaining candidates, they said Herbst is the best choice.
“We don’t see (Boughton) putting in the work,” Capra said. “We need somebody who’s out there every day, day and night, putting in the work, because it’s so hard to get a Republican elected as governor in the state of Connecticut. So we want somebody who’s going to win, and we think that Tim Herbst is our guy to win.”
He worried Boughton would be out-hustled by whoever wins the Democratic primary for governor.
“When you have a guy like (Democratic candidates) Ned Lamont and Joe Ganim out there every day busting their butts trying to get the votes, I just think we’re just giving them a free pass if we go with Boughton,” Capra said.
McPherson said Herbst is better at relating to voters and delivering a message of reforming state government.
“He’s the best candidate that our party has to take on the Democrats and to take back Connecticut and to fix this broken state,” he said. “We just can’t have another four or eight more years of what’s happening. Tim is the best person that’s going to go up there and be a reformer and clean house.”
The Shelton Aldermen even produced a sign saying they did not support Boughton, but didn’t appear at the campaign event to challenge the candidate directly.
Asked about the criticism, Boughton brushed it off, contrasting Herbst’s combative style with his own.
“We’ve had combative for eight years,” he said. “What we need is somebody that can put people together in a room to be able to solve some of these problems.”
Boughton also tried to sound a conciliatory tone toward Lauretti, his onetime opponent in the governor’s race.
After Lauretti dropped out, he told the Hartford Courant that Boughton reneged on a promise to help him get signatures to petition his way onto the primary ballot. Boughton responded by saying Lauretti spent too much time golfing and not enough on the campaign trail.
Asked if he had anything else to say about Lauretti’s claim, Boughton said Monday he has “already opined on that.”
“I wish Mark well, he’s a solid, great mayor in the state of Connecticut and whatever he chooses to do in the future, I wish him the best,” Boughton said.
Boughton pledged to heal the divisions that have emerged within the party if he wins next week’s primary — and, if he loses, to fall in line behind whoever GOP voters choose.
The Danbury mayor said the Naugatuck Valley will have “huge value” in the GOP’s effort to wrest control of state government from Democrats this November.
“Republicans in the state can connect to the people in the Valley in terms of what they’re facing,” he said. “This area has been impacted greatly by our failure to bounce back from the recession, so these folks have felt it.”
Miller For Comptroller
Miller was endorsed by delegates at the GOP convention in May to challenge Lembo for the state’s current comptroller.
But Miller must first win a primary over Greenberg.
Click the play button on the video below to see a June interview of Miller by the New Haven Independent’s Paul Bass.
Bass also interviewed Greenberg. Video of that interview is below.
The Valley Indy emailed Greenberg’s campaign Monday seeking comment.
Boughton said he supports Miller because of the leadership he’s displayed in Seymour.
“I’ve seen him work in action and I’m excited for his future,” he said.
After Monday’s event the Valley Indy reached out to Republican officials from the Valley in an effort to gauge local support in the GOP governor’s primary.
Shelton state Rep. Ben McGorty is backing Herbst in the GOP gubernatorial primary.
Shelton State Rep. Jason Perillo is backing Obsitnik.
Stemerman, who also stumped in the Valley last month, has the support of David Papcin, the chairman of Ansonia’s Republican Town Committee.
Bill Paecht, the chairman of the Seymour Republican Town Committee, said in an email he supports Boughton.
“He will work to bring us all together and get Connecticut back on track,” Paecht said. “I look forward (to) working with (him) in the future.”
Derby state Rep. Themis Klarides, the GOP’s leader in the lower house of the state legislature, is staying neutral in the race, her spokesman said Monday.
Seymour-Derby-Beacon Falls state Rep. Nicole Klarides-Ditria said in an email that she’ll support whoever the voters do.
“I am letting the primary process play out and will support the winners wholeheartedly,” she said.
For all the occasional combativeness in the race, Boughton echoed that sentiment at the end of Monday’s event in Seymour.
“On Aug. 15, we’ve got to pull the party together,” he said. “If we’re not united, we’re not going to win this election.”