Mayor Mark Lauretti, who is seeking his 15th term this November, is stepping up his support for those Republican Town Committee-endorsed candidates facing primary battles in only two weeks.

Lauretti — in front of dozens of supporters at the Republicans for Continued Tax Stability Riverwalk fundraiser Monday, Aug. 26, at the Shelton War Memorial Park Pavilion — touted not only the city’s economic success over the last 30 years but also the strength of the RTC candidates with the primaries set for Sept. 10.

“For the first time in 28 years, we have people who are challenging us,” said Lauretti. “There are Republicans who are challenging us or people who say they are Republicans. He could not win as a Democrat so he’s trying his luck as a Republican. People should not be fooled by that.

“It’s never been in my DNA to take a back seat. It’s never been in my DNA to say I am not going to stand up and fight, and we are going to fight,” added Lauretti. “We have a tremendous slate of candidates running this time, and I couldn’t be happier to stand with them. I am so happy they have volunteered to get on board and say ‘hey, we’re staying the course.’”

Lauretti’s attacks are focused on Here for Shelton, a Republican group started by Anne Gaydos, Mark Holden, Tom Minotti, Mike Gaydos, Peter Squitieri, Greg Tetro, Chris Jones and Jim Capra. All but Capra were passed over by the Republican Town Committee at last month’s caucus. Jones was a longtime Democrat — with one failed mayoral bid against Lauretti — who recently switched parties.

For Board of Education, the RTC endorsed incumbents Dr. Darlisa Ritter and Kathy Yolish, along with Carl Rizzo, Jim Orazietti, Ben Perry, Don Stanziale, Jr., Ruth Parkins, John Fitzgerald and Amy Romano. Left off were present board Chair Holden, Gaydos and board Vice Chair Minotti, who are forcing primaries.

The RTC also voted to endorse the present board - Aldermen President John Anglace, and Cris Balamacci (third ward), Anthony Simonetti and David Gidwani (first ward), Stanley Kudej and Eric McPherson (second ward), and Noreen McGorty and Jim Capra (fourth ward) — for another term.

Tetro and Squitieri are seeking spots in the third ward, while Mike Gaydos is running for the second ward.

Capra, who was unanimously supported in his run for re-election in the Board of Aldermen’s fourth ward, now faces a fight from Bernie Simons. Simons, who was present at Monday’s fundraiser, was a surprise primary candidate for the fourth ward and is backed by some RTC members in his efforts.

The RTC endorsed Ginny Harger, Ned Miller and Charlie Kelly for Planning & Zoning, and Jones forced a primary to have his name on the ballot come November.

“Look up and down this Housatonic River valley,” said Lauretti. “This old, industrial, blue-collar valley is transforming itself. Connecticut struggles, but Shelton prospers, and we’ve got people who criticize us, people who have no track record. All they say is they have good ideas. Really? How about those of us who have been in the trenches making this work and delivering a product for the betterment of the entire city.”

Lauretti said Shelton has become “the economic envy of Connecticut,” citing the increase of businesses from 400 to more than 1,500 — including such names as Sikorsky, Perkin & Elmer Pitney Bowes and Prudential — since Lauretti took office in 1991

“On any given day, 25,000 people commute into our city to come to work,” said Lauretti. “We’ve become an employment hub. When Connecticut is shedding jobs and shedding people, we continue to grow. Why? Because we are doing the wrong thing? I don’t think so.”

Lauretti said stability has helped make Shelton the envy of Connecticut, and Republicans can enjoy continued affordability in the city by supporting the RTC candidates, as well as Simons, who has RTC support, in the primaries.

“We’re proven,” said Lauretti. “We’ve done it. We’ve gotten a result. We need to collectively come together and get the word out to Republicans across the city. They need to come and vote Sept.10 to bring back the team that will deliver for them.”

brian.gioiele@hearstmediact.com