Lauretti continues to seek delegates to qualify for governor primary

Mayor Mark Lauretti, a 12-term Republican who now is running for governor, speaks at the recent inauguration ceremony for city officials in Shelton.
Mayor Mark Lauretti, a 12-term Republican who now is running for governor, speaks at the recent inauguration ceremony for city officials in Shelton.

Shelton Mayor Mark Lauretti is continuing to try to secure delegate support in his campaign for governor before the Republican State Convention at the end of this week.

Lauretti needs to get 15% of the convention delegates — or 189 votes out of 1,258 — to automatically qualify for the Republican primary on Aug. 12.

The 12-term mayor said he isn’t sure whether he will make that threshold or not. “I don’t know,” he said. “It’s just hard to know. The delegates are all over the map.”

Shelton will have a delegation of 15 people, plus a few more as super delegates, which forms Lauretti’s base. He is hoping to build on that by getting the support of delegates from nearby towns and elsewhere.

He expects to have the backing of many delegates from the Valley and from Bridgeport.

‘It’s been a challenge’

“It’s a challenge because I’ve only been running for four months,” Lauretti said. “I’m trailing some others, but I’ve leveled the playing field when it comes to raising money.”

Lauretti has impressed people with his fund-raising abilities, but it’s uncertain if that will transfer into delegate support. As of late last week, he said he’s raised about $150,000 of the $250,000 in contributions of $100 or less needed to qualify for the state’s public financing system.

“I’m doing very well,” he said of generating money for his campaign.

The other candidates

Lauretti is competing for the nomination against former U.S. Ambassador to Ireland Tom Foley of Greenwich, Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, state Senate Majority Leader John McKinney of Fairfield, and former West Hartford Town Council member Joseph Visconti.

Foley, who lost a close election to Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy in 2010, is considered the front-runner to win the party’s endorsement. Boughton and McKinney are considered the most likely to qualify for a primary to challenge Foley. Visconti appears to have minimal support.

In recent months, Lauretti has been spending considerable time meeting with Republican town committees around the state to try to pick up delegate support.

“The hardest thing is to talk to these delegates,” he said.

Name recognition

Lauretti also frequently points out that Foley and Boughton have essentially been running for almost five years (both ran for governor in 2010), and McKinney has been running for a year. “I’m only four months into this,” he said.

Boughton was the Republican nominee for lieutenant governor in 2010, running with Foley in the general election.

McKinney’s name recognition is helped by all those who knew his father, the late Congressman Stewart B. McKinney, who represented most of Fairfield County in Congress from 1971-1987.

Will enter name into nomination

Lauretti plans to go to the convention — it’s at the Mohegan Sun on Friday and Saturday, May 16 and 17 — and have his name entered into nomination.

“I’m committed to the convention,” he said. “My strategy right now is to get the 15%.”

His campaign will have a presence at the convention, setting up a table and handing out material to delegates and other GOP activists in attendance. “We’re planning that now,” he said late last week.

Lauretti said his campaign has made a video that will be part of the process of having his name formally entered into nomination. The nominating process for governor will take place Saturday morning.

Convention involves other offices, too

At the two-day GOP convention, candidates also will be nominated for other statewide offices and for Congress in the state’s five congressional districts.

(Republican Dan Debicella of Shelton, a former state senator, is expected to easily win the nomination for Congress in the Fourth District to again challenge Democratic U.S. Rep. Jim Himes. In 2010, Debicella lost to Himes.)

Some conventions turn out as expected and some do not. They can be unpredictable in that deals can be reached between candidates, perhaps to have a candidate for governor drop out in return for someone’s support to run for another statewide office (lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of the state, comptroller, treasurer.)

Also could collect signatures

If Lauretti doesn’t qualify by getting 15% at the convention, he can still get on the ballot by collecting the signatures of about 8,200 Republicans on petitions (that’s 2% of the number of registered Republicans in the state).

This is not an easy task, but Lauretti said he’s open to pursuing it if necessary. He said it’s likely people collecting signatures on his behalf would primarily focus on towns near Shelton, where he is best known.

When campaigns need to collect a large number of signatures in a relatively short amount of time, many will turn to using paid petition-signature collectors.

The deadline for a candidate for governor to turn in the required signatures to qualify for a primary is 4 p.m. on June 10. That's three-and-a-half weeks after the Republican convention ends.