By Robert Miller
HARTFORD — Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton received the backing of the Republican State Convention Saturday night to be the GOP candidate for lieutenant governor in November.
Boughton, now serving his fifth term as mayor of Danbury, had been the choice of current Lt. Gov. Michael Fedele to be Fedele’s running mate.
When Greenwich businessman Tom Foley defeated Fedele for the convention’s gubernatorial nod earlier Saturday, Boughton’s prospects appeared to be diminished.
However, he received overwhelming support from the GOP stalwarts at the convention for the party’s No. 2 post in the November election.
It is uncertain whether there will be a primary challenge to Boughton.
Fedele earned enough votes to qualify for a primary run for governor, and he vows to stay in the race.
That leaves Fedele with a primary campaign to run — and another two-plus months of phone-calling and hand-shaking before a primary vote in August.
“We’re on the ballot,’’ Fedele said earlier.
“We’re in it to win it,’’ Boughton said before he gained his own nomination.
Boughton noted that he had been involved in an intense day-and-a half of politicking leading up to the convention. If there was a telephone call to make, he made it.
“I’ve had about two hours sleep,’’ the five-term Danbury mayor said, trying to maintain his usual chipper demeanor despite his weariness.
By mid-afternoon Saturday, his exhaustion had seeped into his face and body.
Boughton started his day with Fedele, working the convention floor for any spare delegates. They’d meet, confer, then head off in different directions.
The work of the previous 36 hours, Boughton said, had been “incredibly hard.’’
He had to convince the people who had supported his own race for governor — ended when he allied with Fedele on Monday — to switch their allegiance.
And, Boughton said, because there were so many candidates running for so many different offices, he had to be careful to be diplomatic — to ask for support without stepping on any toes.
“You don’t want to offend anyone,’’ he said.
When the laborious, town-by-town roll call for governor began, Boughton sat with the Danbury delegation.
Both the Danbury and Stamford delegations went huge for Fedele, bringing out the cheer of the team’s supporters.
But as the count dwindled down to the last few towns, it was clear Fedele was behind by about 100 votes, Boughton said.
“We’ve got to make that up,’’ he said. “We think we can.’’
That proved to be wishful thinking. After the first round of voting, delegates were free to switch. The votes began to flow away from former Congressman Larry DeNardis. Increasingly, they went to Foley.
As the switching proceeded, reporters formed a tight scrum around Foley in the back of the convention hall, waiting for him to be declared the winner.
Fedele and Boughton headed down a long corridor. When they emerged, it was to declare their intention to run in a primary.
But Boughton still had more time at the convention. It had to approve his candidacy for lieutenant-governor Saturday evening, which it did.