Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, the Republican nominee for lieutenant governor in 2010, is expected to ease into the 2014 race for governor with the creation of an exploratory committee, according to his hometown paper, the News Times.

Boughton has called a press conference for 10:30 a.m. at Danbury High School to announce his plans for 2014.

Exploratory committees emerged as an important bridge in 2010 for candidates who wish to run for governor using the state’s system of public financing, which does not provide funding until next May at the earliest, after a candidate qualifies at least for a primary.

To qualify for public financing, a candidate for governor must raise $250,000 in donations of no more than $100. An exploratory committee can accept donations of up to $375 and need not stay within the qualifying budget of $250,000.

Boughton will have greater flexibility as an exploratory candidate than Senate Minority Leader John P. McKinney, R-Fairfield, who declared his candidacy for governor and his intent to seek public financing last month.

Joseph B. Visconti of West Hartford, a former town council member, also has created a candidate committee.

Tom Foley of Greenwich, the 2010 nominee, is expected to run again as a self-funding candidate.

Exploratory or not, the Connecticut Democratic Party already issued its first attack, noting that Boughton voted against a minimum-wage increase as a state legislator in 2000 and that he describes himself as an opponent of abortion.

“And there are many more examples, which we’ll be highlighting in the coming days and weeks,” Democratic State Chairwoman Nancy DiNardo said in an email.

Boughton was a candidate for governor for three months in 2010 until agreeing to be Michael C. Fedele’s running mate shortly before the GOP convention. Fedele lost a primary for governor to Foley, while Boughton won his primary for lieutenant governor.

He didn’t announce until February in 2010. One lesson from four years ago: It takes a lot longer than three months to raise $250,000 in small dollar donations, the threshold necessary to qualify for public financing.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, the first Democrat to win a gubernatorial election in Connecticut since William A. O’Neill in 1986, is an inviting target for the GOP, with early polls showing voters evening divided on whether he deserves a second term.

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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