There’s a very “substantial chance,” that Shelton’s Mayor of 26 years, Mark Lauretti could be entering the 2018 race for governor.
Should Lauretti officially join the race, there’s a chance that he would also be the third mayor/first selectman competing for the position.
But, currently this is a hypothetical situation because both Republican Trumbull First Selectman and Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton have only formed exploratory committees for statewide office.
Boughton has held office in Danbury since 2001, Herbst since 2009.
Lauretti, Herbst, and Boughton all said they don’t focus on other candidates when running a race for any office.
“I have respect for Mayor Lauretti and First Selectman Herbst, so I wish them well in whatever endeavors they choose, but in my political life I never focus on anyone else because you can’t control that,” said Boughton. “I think all of us are united in the belief that Connecticut can do better and that the Governor has driven us into a ditch that we haven’t been able to get of in the last seven years.”
If elected governor, Lauretti said his plans are to carry his efforts of maintaining a low tax rate and consistent development where seen fit across the state.
The Connecticut Post reported that Lauretti will announce his plan to run for governor in March. When asked by the Shelton Herald about his plans, Lauretti wouldn’t confirm or deny that claim.
Gov. Dannel Malloy has not announced whether he will run for a third term in 2018.
‘I don’t know if there’s anything harder than running a restaurant’
When asked about his probable but not confirmed running for governor and what it would mean for his current position as mayor of Shelton, Lauretti said he’s capable of juggling both campaigning and the responsibilities of his current position at the same time.
“I don’t know if there’s anything harder than running a restaurant,” said Lauretti, “and I spent 15 years as the mayor who owned a restaurant, I did both. That’s my answer.”
Shelton Democratic Town Committee Chair Dave Gioello disagreed with Lauretti’s claim that he can juggle mayoral responsibilities and running for reelection in Shelton while running a campaign for governor.
“If he said that, then well, he has no understanding of what it takes to run a state the size of Connecticut,” said Gioello. “There’s no comparison between running a restaurant and or running a city and or the state of Connecticut.“
Gioello said that he thinks that by Lauretti running for both mayor and governor at the same time, he is using Shelton as his “cash box.”
“The last time he ran for governor, he was pretty much sure he was going to get reelected in Shelton, so he knew he had his job and the money coming in,” Gioello said.”This time around, I think it’s different. I wish him luck in his attempt to get the nomination, but I think the voters in Connecticut are smarter than that.”
Lauretti said he’s not worried about a scenario where voters question his commitment to the city of Shelton if he did decide to run for governor while also running for a 14th term as mayor.
“The people have to make a choice,” said Lauretti. “No one can question my commitment, 26 years? Come on.”
Herbst said he thinks the voters of Connecticut are ready for a generational change in leadership.
“I have to tell you between both Marks there’s 42 years in elective office, I think people are resistent to people who are entrenched like that,” said Herbst. “I think the people of Connecticut are ready for a new generation of leadership. I am prepared to bring that new generation. I really think the voters of Connecticut are ready to make the generation shift in its leaders and I have great respect for both of them and am friendly with both of them, but this is going to be a campaign about ideas.”
Lauretti’s big shoes to fill
Looking into the future, Lauretti said he’s not sure if there’s currently a candidate who he believes would do a good job being mayor of Shelton.
“When you’ve been in the position for 26 years, it would be hard for someone else to comprehend or understand what’s involved,” said Lauretti.
Lauretti said he hasn’t begun fundraising for his would be campaign for governor yet, but said beginning to plan earlier than in his past runs for office will only help him.
“Not as many people will be committed to other candidates at this point,” said Lauretti.
None of the three hypothetical candidates for governor expressed any concerns about fundraising for their would be campaigns for office in 2018.
Lauretti said he hasn’t begun to fundraise, yet.
Herbst, although he hasn’t formally announced a plan to run for governor is being more aggressive in an attempt to raise funds.
“My fundraising is going to be predicated upon how many people are in the race and I think one of the advantages I have having run in a statewide election is that I built a pretty good statewide organization,” said Herbst. “This coming month in March I have eight different fundraisers located around the state. Many of them are East of the Connecticut River and the Southern Congressional District so I’m looking forward to getting out there and having the necessary support to raise any necessary funds to compete. “