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The contest in the 139th House District is a rematch between the incumbent Democrat, Rep. Kevin Ryan, and Republican challenger Leon Moore.
For 10 terms and 20 years Rep. Ryan has represented the 139th District. With that seniority has come influence. Rep. Ryan is the deputy speaker of the House of Representatives. He has been influential in assuring the region and his district get their fair share of grants for infrastructure improvements and their businesses compete for state stimulus grants and loans.
Working with other lawmakers and the governor, Rep. Ryan, 60, helped secure increased state PILOT money (Payments in Lieu of Taxes) for tax-exempt tribal lands in Montville and Ledyard. Ledyard's PILOT grant could increase as much as $600,000 per year at the conclusion of the five-year phase in of the program. Montville's grant could increase as much as $650,000 per year.
Rep. Ryan backed the governor in seeking concessions from state labor unions to slow the growth in labor costs and in consolidating state agencies. In other words, while no fiscal conservative, Rep. Ryan is not averse to finding savings.
In Mr. Moore, a 42-year-old Navy veteran, Rep. Ryan faces a nice guy but not a strong political competitor. Mr. Moore seems sincere enough about wanting to control state spending, promote economic growth and make better use of the retired Navy talent in the region, but he does not appear to have a clear policy agenda or strong grasp of the issues confronting the state.
Much as he did two years ago, Mr. Moore admits he has a "steep learning curve." He is, he says, not a polished candidate. We wish Mr. Moore had spent more time in the two years between his House candidacies polishing up. It would seem to us more research into state policy and problems would have provided the Republican challenger with a better grip on the issues, an ability to offer more specific proposals, and a greater capacity to confront the incumbent.
The 139th District has changed. It includes Bozrah and sections of Norwich and Montville, while Franklin and Lebanon are no longer part of it. But our endorsement remains the same, Rep. Kevin Ryan.