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Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton announced on Wednesday that he was suspending his campaign for governor and endorsing his opponent, Greenwich businessman Tom Foley.
“It’s been my honor to seek Connecticut’s highest statewide office,” Boughton said in a press release. “However, I now believe it is time to suspend my candidacy and call for party unity behind the endorsed Republican candidate, Tom Foley.”
Boughton raised more than $175,000 this year in an effort to collect a $6 million public financing grant from the state, but he remained $75,000 short of the $250,000 goal.
Boughton had selected Groton Town Councilor Heather Bond Somers as his running mate in January, but after the Republican State Convention in May, Somers split from Boughton’s ticket and said she wanted to primary on her own and have control of her own public financing funds.
Somers announced Wednesday that she had raised $80,000, which is $5,000 more than is required for her to obtain about $400,000 in public financing.
The Republican primary is on Aug. 12.
Had she stayed with Boughton, her public financing money would have gone to Boughton for their race as a team. After the split, Boughton teamed up with Shelton Mayor Mark Lauretti, who had to file a petition of at least 8,190 signatures to get onto the ballot as a lieutenant governor candidate. Lauretti submitted more than the necessary number of signatures to the secretary of the state’s office last week; that office is still verifying the signatures on the petition.
At the Republican convention, both Boughton and Somers came in second in their respective races and neither was endorsed by the Republican delegates.
“I entered this campaign because Connecticut is headed in the wrong direction and I believe a positive, reform-minded Republican can challenge Dan Malloy and win in November 2014,” Boughton said. “I now believe all Republicans should unite behind the endorsed candidates, Tom Foley and Penny Bacchiochi.”
Boughton said he will close out his campaign committee, Team Boughton, in the coming weeks.
When candidates end their run for governor before the general election, they must give the remainder of the funds to a 501(c)(3) or return the funds to the contributors on a pro-rata basis. As of May 31, Boughton had $40,692 left in his committee’s account.
Remaining in the Republican primary race for governor are Republican-endorsed candidate Tom Foley and state Sen. John McKinney, R-Fairfield.
Foley thanked Boughton for running a strong campaign and for his endorsement.
“I appreciate Mark’s endorsement and look forward to working with him to take Connecticut in a better direction,” Foley said in a press release. “With smarter policies and new leadership we can restore the prosperity, promise and pride our citizens want and deserve.”
“I welcome a two-person race for the Republican nomination for governor,” McKinney said in a press release. “This will provide Republican primary voters a clear choice on the issues.”
Currently, the candidates in the Republican primary race for lieutenant governor are Somers, Republican-endorsed candidate state Rep. Penny Bacchiochi, R-Stafford Springs, and former U.S. Comptroller General David Walker. Lauretti is trying to petition his way onto the primary election ballot.
Whoever wins the Republican primary for governor would be up against Democrat-endorsed incumbent Gov. Dannel P. Malloy. Third-party candidate Jonathan Pelto, a former Democratic lawmaker, and former West Hartford Town Councilor Joe Visconti are both trying to petition their way onto the general election ballot.
Malloy is running with incumbent Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman, while Pelto and Visconti are running with 31-year-old teacher Ebony Starr Murphy and former Haddam school board member Chester Frank Harris, respectively.
Also on Wednesday, Malloy, Wyman and Bacchiochi were approved for their public financing grants.
Foley, who had also applied for a public finance grant, did not qualify on Wednesday but has until July 18 to meet the $250,000 threshold to qualify for a $1.4 million primary election public finance grant. He raised $264,148 in contributions, but only $220,977 qualified, said Joshua Foley, staff attorney for the State Elections Enforcement Committee.