At our last member meeting, Republican candidate for Governor and current Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton introduced himself and spent an evening answering a multitude of questions about many different issues (about 60 in attendance).
Here are my thoughts and notes from his visit. It was a public, open forum with Mark ensuring all citizens were able to ask whatever questions they wanted. It was a good Q&A session.
First, we thank Mayor Boughton for visiting with us in the Quiet Corner. Danbury is a long way and his visit was informative and much appreciated.
In my view, the GOP winning the Governorship is the most important race in CT. Winning this single seat will stop the one party rule we now live under with a completely reckless and unchecked General Assembly with no means of stopping them from taxing, licensing, and regulating individuals into despair, businesses into extinction, and forcing citizens to leave the state because they can’t afford to live here, or because there are no jobs here. We need to pay attention my friends.
To be the CT GOP’s nomination for Governor of Connecticut, Mayor Boughton is competing with four others: Tom Foley, the GOP’s 2010 candidate who lost to Dannel Malloy by just 6,404 votes with over one million cast and is the GOP’s 2014 presumptive front runner; Joe Visconti, former town council member from W. Hartford and former GOP candidate for US Congress; John Mckinney, GOP State Senate Minority Leader, Fairfield and the leading GOP advocate for SB 1160, and Toni Boucher, CT State Senator District 26 – Wilton.
Personally I found Mr. Boughton a likable guy. He did not strike me as the pompous, progressive illiberal big city Republican arse I expected (Danbury is the 7th largest city in CT with 81,000 residents bordering NY). Yes, yes, yes, I know, they’re all slick and none can be trusted, and they all tell us what we want to hear, and I do live east of the river. Yup, got that.
The fact is, for many CT citizens, next August in the CT GOP primary, we will be given a choice for a GOP candidate for Governor and it is likely to be someone from the list above, and Mr. Boughton is likely on the short list of two if you asked Vegas. If people do not like the list, we need to change the list. But the list is the list. Wishing something different doesn’t change the list.
Mr. Foley has been invited to be our January Cup of Tea featured speaker.
Below are some of my notes, with a bit of commentary in italics, from multiple member inquiries to Mr. Boughton on numerous issues. A bit lengthy, but I thought I’d document all I could remember.
Mayor Mark was asked the purpose of government and without thinking, easily and simply stated 1) keep us safe 2) catch the bad guys 3) put the fires out 4) provide a level playing field for business & 5) educate our children. On more than one occasion he stated he was a social libertarian (whatever that means, and I’m still not sure after looking it up but it appears better than a progressive Republican or maybe the same, I’m not sure). Less government workers servicing more citizens and balanced budgets in Danbury are his proof points that he believes smaller government is better and he can deliver. He was emphatic that the worst thing CT citizens could do was to give Hartford a single dime more for them to waste on their pet social engineering projects.
He pointed out he’s the only one in the race with proven success winning votes in a city/urban area garnering 70% of the votes in his latest reelection in a city where Democrats outnumber Republicans by almost 2:1. Flipping his city council to a super majority GOP also seems remarkable.
He set himself up as a blue collar, reluctant participant, always being asked to serve his fellow citizens in government starting at the bottom, against Foley’s rich and famous upbringing (I personally dislike class warfare used as a cudgel, no matter the wielding party). He’s the blue collar, reluctant warrior seeking our vote against the out of touch rich guy.
Boughton was Foley’s Lt. Gov on the GOP’s 2010 ticket that lost by just 6,404 votes and his proof that he knows how to run statewide. When queried, he says that the best way he could help the CT GOP is get elected governor and then help raise money and get Republicans elected to the General Assembly (GA); correctly pointing out most state problems are created by the one party, Democrat controlled GA. When questioned on being soft in the debates on his opponents so as not to eat their own, Mr. Boughton declined to accept being soft. I took that to mean he’s going to play with sharp elbows even with previous running mate Mr. Foley.
As for his 2A stance, I believe at times he was unequivocal “I have a strong record of supporting 2A rights, look it up.” (I’m betting he has a record as he says, I personally have no idea what it is). When pressed, he clearly stated he would have voted Nay for SB 1160, but acknowledged that just like the first Amendment, the Second Amendment is not an unrestricted right (e.g. you can’t yell fire in a crowded movie theater if there is no fire), so he seemed to leave himself room for discussion. His examples: he would not support individuals owning tanks or RPG launchers. When questioned about MAIG, he clearly stated he supports expanded background checks, did not believe making more bad regulation was a good idea which is what MAIG is doing. He wasn’t questioned on magazine sizes or other 2A matters which is a missed opportunity, but in the Q&A format we were in, different members had different areas of inquiry, rightfully he offered everyone a chance to ask a question.
Mr. Boughton said he supported the school safety aspects of SB 1160 but stated there were serious funding shortfalls (only $15M for 169 towns, and confusion on how the grants were to be distributed). When queried about an armed presence in the school by teachers, he stated he believed it was a town issue, and should not be defined by the state. Now there’s a libertarian punt if I ever saw one, agreed.
He also favored the Mental Illness aspects of the bill explaining he felt early identification and more “tracking” of individuals with mental illness was needed. Certainly my invisible, libertarian tin foil hat started to buzz when I heard early labeling of people to be tracked. He is correct when he states three decades ago mental health hospitals were shut down by Liberal Democrats. Clearly he supports more state intervention in this area.
In summary, I believe Mayor Boughton clearly stated he would have voted against the SB 1160, but liked parts of it (e.g. mental health and school safety funding). He says he has a strong 2A record “look it up”. Believes in more/better background checks, increased funding for school safety and mental health. We do know he believes I should not own a tank or an RPG launcher. We do not know why he believes that, or What restrictions on firearms would he accept to diminish the definition of infringe? His opinions on Heller and McDonald, and the Constitutionality of the law that passed would be helpful.
So I agree, his 2A stance is not a Joe Visconti, unequivocal 2A response (Joe visited us 2 months ago and he’s been at every 2A rights rally in Hartford I’ve been to). He left much unanswered, which is mostly our fault. We did not ask all the right questions. Lesson learned.
In my thank you note to the Mayor, I expressed my view that he had a weak 2A response and he needed better definition. I offered my services if he desired to sharpen his 2A message.
I also agree with members who believe his apparent weak 2A stance will hurt him in elections with 2A single issue voters, as it will for Mr. Foley best I can tell.
Pragmatically, for any candidate, I’m not sure how 2A fits into the bigger picture of winning a statewide election in CT where 42% of voters are Unaffiliated with some being gun owners and few west of the river. (Note: in CT, 20% of voters are registered Republican, 37% Democrat, 42% Unaffiliated). Of the candidates above, only Joe Visconti is an unabashed 2A protector. As much as I like Joe, and find him interesting, he’s a long, long shot as of this writing.
Clearly, there are more questions to be asked and answered about 2A positions from both Mr. Boughton and Mr. Foley, a supposed GOP leader who is conspicuously absent in the 2A discussion. Silence is acceptance is one view.
The Mayor’s involvement with MAIG and CCM are troubling, and I’m quite sure there are other interactions/alliances we don’t know about that won’t smell right. Recognize, in some respects, we are dealing with and taming snakes.
In my view, Mayor Boughton came across as a smart, likable, easy talking (aren’t all the good ones), credible contender for the office of Governor.
Can Boughton beat Foley for the GOP nomination? As of today, he’s a long shot for many reasons (e.g. money, infrastructure, name recognition, GOP support, etc), but in my view, is better positioned than John McKinney (possibly the most hated Republican in the state), Joe Visconti, or Toni Boucher. Also, with 10 months to go to the primary, anything is possible, and Foley appears to be stumbling out of the blocks.
Other’s who attended, please weigh in with your thoughts of what Mr. Boughton said or how you felt about him competing against Malloy, Foley, et al. Mr. Boughton, please weigh in if I did not get it correct.