Clubbing with the GOP at Mohegan Sun
Updated 11:27 pm, Saturday, May 17, 2014
UNCASVILLE -- It's nighttime in Uncasville, the start of a weekend of too many glasses of Sangiovese and too many spins of the roulette wheel for an untold number of "conservatives."
Left to its own devices, a wolf pack of Republicans loyal to Tom Foley goes on the prowl. They stop in the VISTA Lounge for a nightcap on the opening evening of their state party's convention at Mohegan Sun.
In the foreground of the Wombi Rock -- a man-made outcropping of glass and banquettes with bottle service and an annoying velvet rope -- a man is guzzling a chocolate martini and puffing on an electronic cigarette that emits a blue glow.
The group is scheming, plotting how they can convince Foley rival John McKinney to run for lieutenant governor instead of governor to avoid a three-way primary.
A DJ is spinning Color Me Badd's "I Wanna Sex You Up."
This is how Republicans roll.
"We smoke cigars, foment about how bad things are and ogle women," a convention-goer from Waterbury says, begging not to be identified.
"Did everybody stay up too late last night? Is that the deal?" Bingham ribs fellow Republicans.
Boughton, Danbury's longest-serving mayor and main threat to Foley in the GOP field, finds his lost shaker of salt.
It's at Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville, where Boughton has opened up a tab; only in politics, they don't call it that.
It's an after-party for supporters of the mayor.
Boughton's campaign distributes 300 tickets for free drinks at $6 a pop. Try the nacho bar and lobster fritters, his handlers say.
Smartphone in one hand and a nonalcoholic beverage in the other, Boughton circulates, his voice drowned out by a cover band's rendition of "Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy" by Big & Rich.
"Where do you get free drinks," an opportunistic delegate asks Boughton's campaign manager.
The floor is sticky. A bachelorette party shares the pseudo-tropical space. Total cost for Boughton's soiree: about $2,500.
Outside Margaritaville, a heavy-set man ambles by and looks quizzically at a Boughton campaign sign near the entrance.
His T-shirt says, "Bad decisions make good stories."
There's a nightclub next door called Mist -- complete with go-go dancers and a waterfall.
And a dress code, not that Republicans would know. They keep an arm's length.
At a roulette table, a former candidate for Congress is hypnotized by the wheel and a pile of chips won by his wife.
New Britain Mayor Erin Stewart isn't so lucky.
"Everybody lost a lot of money last night," Stewart confesses Saturday during her nominating speech for Boughton. "Maybe that was just me."