State senator from Wilton exploring run for governor

Hartford - Wilton state Sen. Toni Boucher on Tuesday became the latest Republican considering a possible run for governor in 2014, saying she's concerned the American Dream is becoming unaffordable in Connecticut.

"It really pains me, because this is the state that gave me everything," said Boucher, who emigrated from Italy at the age of 5.

The lawmaker announced in Naugatuck - the working class community where she grew up - that she has filed the paperwork with the State Elections Enforcement Commission to form an exploratory committee. She said has no timetable on her final decision whether to seek the GOP's endorsement for governor.

Boucher, an executive with a financial services firm, is the latest potential candidate to consider challenging Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, who has not yet said whether he intends to seek a second term. Earlier this month, Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton announced he was exploring a possible gubernatorial campaign. Senate Minority Leader John McKinney of Fairfield has said he plans to seek the Republican nomination, while Greenwich businessman Tom Foley, the 2010 Republican candidate, has said he hasn't decided whether to run again.

Boucher, 63, has served in the Senate since 2009, representing Bethel, New Canaan, Redding, Ridgefield, Weston, Westport and Wilton. She previously served 12 years in the House of Representatives. Boucher acknowledged she represents some of the wealthiest communities in the state, saying "I represent the two Connecticuts," given her upbringing.

The lawmaker is well-known at the state Capitol for opposing legislation legalizing the medical use of marijuana, speaking for nearly 10 straight hours against the bill in 2012. But on Tuesday, the same day the General Assembly's Regulation Review Committee approved regulations for the program, Boucher said she believes the state faces an even bigger problem when it comes to its economic situation.

"We have one of the heaviest tax burdens in the country, one of the worst environments for business, the nation's highest per capita debt, dangerously unfunded pension liabilities, and the dubious distinction for being the worst state for retirement," said Boucher, currently a member of the Finance Revenue and Bonding Committee. She is also the ranking Senate Republican on the Education Committee.

Boucher called for expanding the state's tax base, not "overpromising" to state employee unions, and reigning in both spending and borrowing.

Before being elected to the legislature, Boucher served on the Wilton Board of Selectmen and Board of Education for a total of 10 years. She has also served as a member of the State Board of Education. She earned her master's in business administration from the University of Connecticut.

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