Lt. Gov. Michael C. Fedele said today his choice of Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton as a running mate puts him within striking distance of winning the Republican gubernatorial nomination on the first ballot next weekend.

At a press conference on the north steps of the State Capitol, Boughton formally ended his own campaign for governor by accepting an invitation to join Fedele.

“The Fedele-Boughton team will enter the convention this weekned united in the beliefs that have brought Mike and I together: We want a smaller, more efficient government. We want to revitalize economic development strategy,” Boughton said. “And we want to rethink the future of government at every level.”


Mark Boughton, left, shakes on new partnership with Michael Fedele. (Mark Pazniokas)

The Fedele-Boughton partnership is the first narrowing of a Republican field that still includes Tom Foley, Oz Griebel, Larry DeNardis and Christopher Duffy Acevedo.

Foley’s campaign said he will make “a statement regarding his preferences for Lieutenant Governor later today.” Update: Foley will not name a running mate.

Fedele said he expects to have raised the $250,000 in small-dollar donations necessary to qualify for public financing by Saturday, the day when delegates at the Republican State Convention in Hartford will endorse a nominee for governor. Boughton also will seek public financing for lieutenant governor.

Winning 15 percent of the delegate support on any ballot is sufficient to qualify for an Aug. 10 primary.

The front runner in the early polling for the GOP nomination is Foley, an independently wealthy businessman from Greenwich who is seeking public office for the first time, other than a brief run for U.S. senate last year. He switched races once Gov. M. Jodi Rell announced she would not run for re-election.

With TV ads for his senate and gubernatorial campaigns, Foley has bought name recognition. Foley, Griebel and DeNardis have opted out of the voluntary public-financing program.

Fedele and his wife, Carol, appeared today with Boughton and his wife, Phyllis.

Boughton had been a state representative for three years when he was elected mayor of Danbury in 2001 and re-elected four times. He is best known outside Western Connecticut for his efforts to crack down on illegal immigrants in Danbury, an effort unmentioned Monday and seldom raised during his three-month gubernatorial campaign.

Fedele introduces Boughton

He now is paired with an immigrant who moved to the U.S. from Italy as a young child, grew up in Stamford and left college to start a successful information-technology business.

“Mike is a man who arrived as an immigrant form Italy and has actually lived the American dream,” Boughton said.

Boughton entered the race in early February and positioned himself as a populist, happy to skewer some of his wealthier opponents in both parties: Foley and Democrat Ned Lamont, who each happen to be wealthy, Ivy-League educated residents of Greenwich.

“I didn’t go to Harvard and I didn’t go to Yale,” Boughton said, smiling broadly. “I went to Central Connecticut State University and Western Connecticut State University, and I am proud of it!”

Today, Boughton said he and Fedele were united in blocking additional spending until the Democratic legislature joins them in downsizing government.

“So, what does that mean? Let’s be real clear about this: No fees, no taxes, no tolls. Our taxpayers have had enough,” Boughton said.

The Democratic race has narrowed to two tickets: Lamont and Mary Glassman vs. Dan Malloy and Nancy Wyman.

Malloy is the only candidate who has reached the $250,000 qualifying threshold for governor. Lamont has opted out of public financing.

Mark is the Capitol Bureau Chief and a co-founder of CT Mirror. He is a frequent contributor to WNPR, a former state politics writer for The Hartford Courant and Journal Inquirer, and contributor for The New York Times.

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