Boucher kicks off exploratory for governor

It’s official. Connecticut State Senator Toni Boucher, a 22-year veteran of the state legislature, has launched an exploratory campaign for statewide office that’s focusing closely on the 2018 Governor’s race. Boucher for Connecticut, the senator’s exploratory committee, made the announcement this week.

Word got out over the summer when the committee filed papers for the exploratory in June and commenced a “soft launch” at that time.

“Based on initial response and support that has been flowing in, both of which have been extremely positive,” said Boucher, “we’re now stepping it up.” An official exploratory launch celebration is scheduled on Saturday, Sept. 16, in the state senator’s hometown of Wilton. To be eligible for state campaign funding in Connecticut, a candidate for governor must raise $250,000 in qualifying contributions. The amount is $75,000 for other statewide offices.

Boucher made the decision to initiate an exploratory for governor based on her assessment of the state’s current problems and her ideas on what it will take to correct them.

“Our state of Connecticut, once the most prosperous in the nation,” she said in a press release, “is in miserable shape. The irresponsible policies and spending of this administration have resulted in negative revenue growth, burdensome taxes and regulations, the erosion of our transportation and education systems, and a net outflow of both businesses and families … who can no longer justify the cost of living or doing business here.

“It doesn’t have to be this way,” she continued. “I have a plan to change the direction of our state and put it back on the path to prosperity, re-establishing it as a place where businesses can flourish, families can live and work in a thriving economy, commuters can travel on modern highways and rails, and our children have access to an excellent education. I would accomplish this by lowering taxes on both families and businesses (including a phase-out of the income, pension, social security and estate taxes), reducing the unsustainable size and cost of our state government; and spending for the right reasons, like transportation and education.”  

Boucher stakes her claim on being able to accomplish this kind of turnaround based on her experience and record of accomplishment.

“Fixing our state won’t be easy,” she said, “but those who know me know that I have the energy, determination and skills to get the job done. My past nine years as state senator and previous 12 years a state representative have earned me a reputation for bold leadership and real results. It’s why I’m currently Senate Chief Deputy Majority Leader, why I’ve been consistently endorsed by business, education and conservation groups, and why I’ve been the highest vote getter of either party in the Senate — by winning the support of unaffiliated and Independent voters …  as well as a strong crossover vote from Democrats,” alluding to the fact that major party affiliation in Connecticut runs 2:1 Democrat to Republican, and that for a Republican to be able to win statewide office, they must be able to pull a strong crossover vote. “Experience in dealing with our state’s governmental issues is key for a candidate in this race,” she remarked. “You don’t send a soldier into battle who hasn’t been through boot camp,” she added.

The state senator also pointed to the fact that being the only female who has declared an exploratory for governor is another strength on her part.

“Our state has elected two strong female governors in the past,” she explained, referring to Democrat Ella Grasso and Republican Jodi Rell. “Both came into the position at trying times, and both served the state well,” she added. Ella Grasso, Connecticut’s 83rd governor, served from 1975 to 1980. When she was elected governor in 1974, Boucher’s press release said, Grasso drew national attention as being in the vanguard of a new era in politics. “Her popularity in Connecticut was as a protector of the status quo who ran the state with frugality and without an income tax,” the release said.

Jodi Rell served as Connecticut’s 87th governor from 2004 to 2011. She was first elected lieutenant governor in 1994 and won re-election in 1998 and 2002. She became governor in 2004 following John Rowland’s resignation and was re-elected in a landslide victory in 2006. On the heels of the Rowland scandal, Rell was credited with bringing back honesty and transparency to state government and went on to earn the highest approval rating (80+%) of any Connecticut governor.

In addition to being the current Chief Deputy Senate Minority Leader, Boucher is Co-Chair of the Education and Transportation Committees, vice chair of the Banking and Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committees and a member of the Legislative Management and School Construction Committee. She is also a current State Board of Education commissioner and chairs the commission’s Policy Committee.

Prior to her election to the Senate in 2008, she had served for 12 years as state representative for Wilton’s 143rd district where she held multiple caucus leadership and committee roles. She is also a past chairman of the Wilton Board of Education and a past member of the Wilton Board of Selectmen. And, on the private side, she’s built a successful career as an executive in the financial services business, having worked at Fortune 500 companies and leading investment firms, including the Commonfund, where she is currently employed. She also holds Series 7, 63 and 31 licenses.

Boucher says she has never been afraid of hard work.

“I am a daughter of Italian immigrant parents who came to this country when I was a young child, settling in the Waterbury area and working as farmers,” she said. “We were taught early on that hard work was necessary for survival and, as children, we were expected to contribute from a very young age,” she added. “The other important value my parents instilled in me was the importance of education,” she continued. “We came to this country not speaking a word of English, but as my father would always remind us, ‘Education is the key to opening doors and expanding horizons.’ And we took him very seriously.

Boucher has a perfect attendance record in the legislature, never having missed a vote on the senate floor in her nine years there.