Is Herbst GOP front-runner?

With the Republican convention looming just two weeks away, the party’s candidates for governor have been busy lining up supporters for what is sure to be a contentious selection process and primary.

Despite the crowded field of candidates, it appears that former Trumbull First Selectman Tim Herbst may be one of the front-runners. At least, his internal campaign appears to think so.

Hartford Courant political columnist Kevin Rennie’s blog posted the results of an internal poll conducted by the Herbst camp.

“Volatile former Trumbull First Selectman Tim Herbst has conducted a survey of Republican state convention delegates,” Rennie posted on his blog. “He’s only sharing the results with some people. Shhh, his survey found he’s first.”

The April 19 poll showed Herbst with support from 31% of those polled, though Rennie pointed out the results do not include standard poll information like sample size and other details. Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton placed second in the poll, with Steve Obsitnik the only other candidate reaching double-digit support. Candidates receiving the support of 15% of the delegates at the May 11-12 convention will automatically qualify for a primary.

Herbst acknowledged the results Rennie posted had come from his campaign, but said he did not know who had leaked the information.

“There were only about 20 people that knew,” he said.

Herbst also declined to characterize the Republican race as a two-way fight between him and Boughton.

“I wouldn’t say that, but it does seem like when I make calls to delegates, the ones that don’t agree to support me say they’re for him,” he said.

But if Herbst is not officially saying the race is between him and Boughton, his campaign has focused its attacks on the Danbury mayor in recent weeks, criticizing Boughton for his role in a municipal regionalization plan and for his past support of former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s “Mayors Against Illegal Guns” group that Herbst said “supports radical anti-Second Amendment policies and is widely speculated to support confiscation.”

The group’s website,, states, “Mayors are leaders on public safety issues, and they know that common-sense gun laws and policies can keep guns out of the wrong hands.”

Herbst and Boughton have both been racking up endorsements lately, with both releasing lists of endorsements that include dozens of elected officials, town committees and party backers.

Herbst said he has been particularly successful in the eastern part of the state, the Naugatuck Valley and the heavily Republican New Haven suburbs. Boughton’s list of endorsements include 15 members of the state’s General Assembly and various mayors and elected officials from the Danbury area, including Ridgefield and Brookfield.