Lauretti fails to qualify for governor primary: Unsure if will attempt to collect signatures

Mayor Mark Lauretti failed to qualify for a primary for governor at the Republican State Convention on Saturday, peaking at 5.4% of the vote before many of his delegates switched their votes and his tally declined.

A candidate must get at least 15% of the vote at the convention to automatically qualify for a primary. Lauretti now has the option of trying to collect 8,190 signatures from registered Republicans by June 10 to petition his way onto the primary ballot.

As expected, Tom Foley of Greenwich won the party endorsement with 57% of the delegate vote,. Two other candidates qualified for a primary — Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton with 22% and state Sen. John McKinney of Fairfield with 18%. Another candidate. former West Hartford Town Council member Joseph Visconti, received 2%.

Lauretti’s final vote total was 1.1%, but that was after the Shelton delegates were released to vote for McKinney to help McKinney meet the 15% threshold. Many Lauretti delegates from other towns also switched their votes after it became apparent Lauretti would not get 15%, choosing to support various candidates.

More than 1,200 delegates

There were 1,258 delegates at the Republican convention, and 189 votes were needed to reach the 15% threshold.

A primary is considered likely for governor as well as other offices, including lieutenant governor and treasurer. Foley, a businessman and former U.S. ambassador to Ireland, lost a close election to Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy in 2010. Malloy is running for re-election this year.

‘Not sure’ what will do next

After the vote at the convention, held at the Mohegan Sun in eastern Connecticut, Lauretti said he was uncertain what he would do next.

“I’m not sure at this point,” he said.

Lauretti said he will have to make a decision quickly on whether to try to collect the required petition signatures for a primary, noting it’s not an easy task.

He also said it was tough to compete against candidates who had been campaigning for a lot longer than he had. Lauretti entered the race in December 2013.

“You can’t both raise $150,000 and get 15% of the delegates in four months,” he said, making a reference to the amount of money raised by his campaign so far.

'This is insider's baseball'

Lauretti said the convention outcome reflects the wishes of Republican Party activists, and not necessarily rank-and-file GOP voters across the state.

“This is insider’s baseball,” he said.

Lauretti has said in the past that the more candidates there are in a primary, the better his chances would be as the vote is divided up among all the candidates.

Extending goodwill

Lauretti supported having Shelton’s delegation switch their votes to McKinney in the end, enabling McKinney to top the required 15%. McKinney only had 13.3% of the vote after the initial voting, before switches were allowed.

“We had a block [of votes] and wanted to extend some of that goodwill to McKinney — and to Boughton,” Lauretti said.

As a fellow long-serving GOP mayor in Fairfield County, Lauretti appears to know Boughton better than the other Republican gubernatorial candidates.

Some Foley delegates from across the state also switched to back McKinney before the first and only round of voting was closed, with Foley operatives preferring to have a three-way primary rather than a two-way primary against just Boughton. A primary would be Aug. 12.