AP NEWS

Campaign cash rolling in for Danbury mayoral race

April 14, 2019

DANBURY - Tens of thousands of dollars are pouring into the election campaigns of GOP Mayor Mark Boughton and Democrat Chris Setaro - an early indication of the widespread interest the November race.

Months before the contest for the city’s top elected office is expected to heat up, Setaro has raised $105,000 and Boughton has brought in $66,000, according to campaign finance disclosure statements for the first three months of 2019, filed earlier this week with the clerk’s office.

The first quarter results appear to bolster Setaro’s claim that he can make a credible run for a job Boughton has held for a record nine straight terms.

“I am grateful for the generosity of our supporters,” said Setaro, an attorney and a former City Council president. “I do think contributions are an indicator of support, and we are pleased so far with the response.”

It’s too soon to say whether the campaigns can maintain their fundraising pace. Setaro said he hopes to raise at least another $50,000 before the fall.

Boughton said that while he is running for re-election, he is also running the city.

“People have been very generous, definitely, but we are not interested in who has the most money, because that’s not what wins elections,” said Boughton. “What wins elections is the job you have done in office.”

The contributors who gave to Setaro’s and Boughton’s campaigns are a reflection of the candidates’ circles of influence.

Setaro, for example, was an attorney with Ventura Law for 25 years before starting his own Danbury practice in 2016. At least 100 of his 500 contributors in the first quarter are lawyers - many from Hartford, Bridgeport and other cities outside Danbury.

Boughton, meanwhile, is one of Connecticut’s most popular Republicans - earning the 2018 GOP endorsement for governor.

As such, he has $1,000 contributions from prominent Republicans including Linda McMahon, who recently stepped down as the director of the federal Small Business Administration to work on President Trump’s re-election, and Bob Stefanowski, the GOP gubernatorial primary winner, who lost the 2018 race to Democrat Ned Lamont.

Both mayoral candidates also have plenty of $100 contributions from everyday voters.

Boughton’s records show contributions from plumbers, bankers, therapists, roofers, real estate agents, homemakers and people in retirement. There is also a $10 donation from a student.

Setaro’s records show contributions from waitresses, nurses, house cleaners, bus drivers, insurance agents and teachers.

He also has support from several top Democrats in Connecticut, including a $50 donation from Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz and a $500 contribution from Joe Ganim, the mayor of Bridgeport.

“The majority of our contributors are from Danbury, but we have friends, colleagues and supporters outside of Danbury who agree with us that we need a change in City Hall,” Setaro said.

Boughton countered that prominent Republicans elsewhere in the state want to support his re-election because Danbury is a model city.

“Danbury is by any measure one of Connecticut’s most successful cities, and so people like Linda and Bob want to help us continue the work we’re doing,” Boughton said.

The financial disclosure forms show that Setaro’s campaign has spent $20,000 - on catering, videos and “announcement photography.” Setaro also spent $14,000 of his own money - most of it to pay for his January campaign kickoff event at the Amber Room Colonnade.

“Danbury has grown significantly in the last 18 years and as a result of that growth we need a plan for how we fund our schools and infrastructure,” Setaro said.

Boughton’s campaign has spent $11,000 - mostly on catering and expenses related to his kickoff event in March.

“Our growth didn’t happen by accident ... but through hard work and strategic planning,” Boughton said.

rryser@newstimes.com 203-731-3342