Why is Lauretti now running for lieutenant governor? The issue is ‘time,’ he says

For Shelton Mayor Mark Lauretti, the reason to now run for lieutenant governor instead of governor is simple — time.

Lauretti was facing important deadlines for petition signatures and campaign fund-raising, and teaming up with Danbury Mark Boughton — who is running for governor — should make meeting those deadlines somewhat easier.

“For me, this became a function of time,” Lauretti said on late Friday morning, after filing the paperwork in Hartford to run for lieutenant governor. He plans to run as a team with Boughton.

“It’s all about getting to the end zone,” he said.

Lauretti said he has had discussions in recent months with all the other gubernatorial candidates about possibly joining up with them, but now that idea makes sense with Boughton.

“This was the right fit at this point in time,” he said.

Signatures and fund-raising

While Lauretti now is running for a different statewide office, many challenges remain.

The first is to collect 8,190 petition signatures by June 10 to qualify for the Republican lieutenant governor primary.

Without meeting that threshold, all else is irrelevant.

The second is to raise enough money to qualify for the state’s public financing campaign by July 10, in time for the primary about a month later.

“June 10 is one deadline, but so is July 10 — because running in the primary without qualifying for public financing doesn’t make any sense,” Lauretti said.

Starting from scratch

With both of these tasks, Lauretti now is starting from scratch.

He had been collecting signatures for governor but now must toss out those petitions and start with new petitions for lieutenant governor.

That gives his campaign 18 days to collect 8,190 signatures from registered Republicans in the state. It will not be easy.

His campaign will utilize both volunteers and paid signature collectors, he said, and receive assistance from Boughton’s campaign network.

“He’ll help,” Lauretti said of Boughton. “He’ll double the equation. It’s now in his interest as well.”

Expect to see those signature collectors out on the streets as soon as today. “I don’t waste a lot of time thinking about it,” Lauretti said. “I go to work.”

Lauretti said he personally will be collecting signatures in Shelton and other Valley towns.

Combining campaign funds

When it comes to fund-raising, the Lauretti and Boughton campaigns will join forces and combine their campaign funds to try to qualify for the state’s public financing program.

“[Boughton] already has funds and I’ll now add to that,” Lauretti said.

They will need to raise $250,000 in contributions of $100 or less to qualify for receiving $1.25 million in state campaign funds for the primary.

Boughton already has raised at least $120,000, and Lauretti’s goal will be to raise $75,000 for his lieutenant governor’s campaign committee.

Can’t use governor campaign funds

Lauretti said he had raised about $150,000 for his gubernatorial campaign, but that money can’t be used for his lieutenant governor’s campaign or combined with Boughton to reach the $250,000 minimum requirement.

In fact, the Lauretti for Governor campaign now will return all unused funds to contributors (some money has been spent on campaign expenses).

Of course, people who donated to him in the past for governor can now give him money for lieutenant governor, so he has a ready group of contributors to tap into.

‘I like them all’

Lauretti said he’s pleased to run with Boughton, but noted he has good relationships with the other major gubernatorial candidates as well — party-endorsed Tom Foley of Greenwich and state Sen. John McKinney of Fairfield.

“I like them all,” he said.

Lauretti said at the Republican State Convention on May 16 and 17, the Foley campaign had asked him to consider running for comptroller rather than for governor.

At that time, he was still determined to run on his own for the state’s top position. “I was committed to going it alone,” he said.

The right position?

After serving as a city’s chief elected official for 23 years, Lauretti may seem like an unusual fit for lieutenant governor — a No. 2 position that would put him in the background of whoever is governor.

But that prospect doesn’t seem to bother him. “Why not?” Lauretti said of potentially serving in the position.