For Lauretti’s statewide hopes, it’s all about the signatures for now

The combined statewide campaign team of Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton and Shelton Mayor Mark Lauretti announced at the beginning of the week that it had collected more than 4,000 petition signatures to get Lauretti on the Republican primary ballot for lieutenant governor.

That means as of early Monday, the campaign appeared to still need to get about 4,000 signatures — or almost 450 a day — to reach the required 8,190 by June 10 at 4 p.m.

“I have to be optimistic,” Lauretti said when asked if he would reach the threshold by the deadline. “It’s hard, but it is what it is.”

Boughton is running for governor.

‘Dozens of collection teams’

In a June 2 email, the Boughton-Lauretti team said it had “received offers to help from more than 100 volunteers statewide,” and that “dozens of signature collection teams [were] out gathering petitions across Connecticut” the previous weekend.

Lauretti said he knew his campaign for statewide office — he began by running for governor, then switched gears after doing poorly with delegates at the Republican State Convention — would be difficult.

“I knew it was an uphill battle when I got in,” said the 12-term mayor.

Combining financial resources

The Boughton forces are motivated to help Lauretti since they could then combine monetary donations to try to qualify for the state’s campaign financing program.

Lauretti proved himself to be a strong fund-raiser when running for governor, although he now needs to begin raising new money for lieutenant governor since his gubernatorial campaign funds cannot be combined with Boughton’s donations to reach the state’s campaign financing program limits.

“Team Boughton-Lauretti is working hard to get on the August primary ballot and raise the money needed to compete in the contest,” said a June 2 campaign email. “We are encouraged by the strong response to our new team.”

Paying some petition collectors

The Boughton-Lauretti campaign team has offered $2 per signature to petition collectors, which has drawn some attention but is perfectly legal. Paying petition signatures is not unusual in most states, but few candidates in Connecticut have resorted to it since election and campaign financing laws have been liberalized to make gathering signatures for a primary more of a real-world situation.

Lauretti filed the paperwork to run for lieutenant governor on May 23, giving him 19 days — the first and last of those being partial days — to collect the required signatures. That averages out to 432 signatures a day.

Some signatures will be ineligible

One thing to keep in mind is that candidates need to collect more signatures than required because some of them will inevitably be found to be ineligible for various reasons.

It’s unclear how carefully the Boughton-Lauretti team is verifying the signatures along the way. In general, the more verification being done by the campaign during the collection process, the fewer signatures that probably will be tossed out.

Sometimes entire petition sheets filled with multiple signatures can be disqualified. Other campaigns often scrutinize and challenge the petitions, which are verified by local election officials.

Other lieutenant governor candidates

If Lauretti qualifies for the lieutenant governor primary he would face three other candidates — state Rep. Penny Bacchiochi of Stafford, the endorsed candidate; former Groton Mayor Heather Somers, and former U.S. Comptroller David Walker of Bridgeport (who is running with McKinney).

Boughton automatically qualified for the Aug. 12 primary for governor by getting enough delegates at the convention, as did state Sen. John McKinney of Fairfield. Boughton and McKinney will challenge the endorsed candidate, Greenwich businessman Tom Foley, in the primary.