There’s no time for winter hibernation for Republican Mark Boughton, the longest serving mayor of Danbury.
In addition to readying the Hat City for Winter Storm Hercules, the seven-term incumbent faces another tough choice in the days ahead.
And we’re not just talking about canceling school or how many plow trucks to deploy.
Exploring a run for governor since last August, Boughton expects to make a final decision on whether to jump into the 2014 race for the state’s highest office within the next two weeks.
“We’ll be huddling over the weekend and the next several days, discussing what the next steps will be and whether to get into the race,” Boughton told Hearst Connecticut Newspapers on Thursday.
Boughton, 49, the 2010 GOP nominee for lieutenant governor and a former state legislator, is part of a triumvirate of Republicans flirting with the prospect of challenging first-term Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.
Despite building up a reservoir of goodwill for his response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre and several debilitating storms, Malloy’s public approval ratings have been hamstrung by the state’s sluggish economy under his administration.
“Look, I think this race is wide open,” Boughton said. “On the Republican side for the nomination, I don’t think there’s anybody who’s gotten a jump on somebody else.”
In 2010, Boughton was the running mate of Tom Foley on a GOP ticket that lost to Malloy and current Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman by less than 1 percent.
Foley has also formed an exploratory committee for governor, in addition to state Sen. Toni Boucher of Wilton.
The most prominent Republican to declare in the race thus far is state Senate Minority Leader John McKinney of Fairfield.
State Sen. Michael McLachlan, R-Danbury, Boughton’s former chief of staff, has been lobbying his former boss to enter the fray.
“I’m encouraging him to do that,” McLachlan said. “I hope his decision is positive. I think Mark Boughton would make a great governor of Connecticut. I think he’s got all of the tools and experience necessary to run Connecticut government the way it needs to be run in this god awful economy that we face, and his leadership skills will be well received at the state Capitol.”
Boughton wouldn’t say whether he’s leaning in one direction.
“By all accounts, I would say we’ve definitely gotten positive feedback,” Boughton said. “We’re going to look at all of our options and then make a decision.”
While there is a potential logjam of Republicans eying the governor’s race, there has been some speculation in GOP circles that Boughton could be recruited to run for Congress in the 5th District and give more competition to Litchfield businessman Mark Greenberg. This is the third attempt at the seat — currently held by Democratic freshman Elizabeth Esty — by Greenberg.
Boughton threw water on the idea and said his executive skills honed as Danbury’s mayor are a better fit in Hartford, however.
“I made that pretty clear that I’m not interested in running for Congress,” Boughton said.