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East Lyme - Three-term Republican First Selectman Paul Formica announced Sunday that he will seek his party's nomination to run for U.S. representative from the Second Congressional District at Friday's convention in Hartford.
Formica, 58, said he decided to seek the nomination to challenge three-term Democratic incumbent Joe Courtney after Norwich Republican state Rep. Christopher Coutu backed out of the race on Wednesday to seek the 19th District state Senate seat.
Formica said Coutu's withdrawal "moved up" his decision to seek the congressional seat. He said he had been considering running for Congress in the future, perhaps in another two years.
"It moved itself up in life's program, because of the withdrawal of Mr. Coutu," Formica said. "I thought about it a couple years away, but it became available. I thought it important to give a choice to the convention."
Formica acknowledged he has only a short period of time to gain support for his candidacy and hopes to make a strong case during the convention.
Madison Republican Daria Novak entered the race in April 2011. Novak is a consultant in business management and security training. She is former president of ERUdyne, LLC, an international cross-cultural, business management and homeland security training and consulting firm she founded in March 2001.
With his late announcement Sunday, Formica said his supporters will work today on the necessary campaign paperwork and prepare for a series of formal announcements of his candidacy on Tuesday.
Formica will launch a tour of the district Tuesday starting at 10 a.m. at East Lyme Town Hall. From there, Formica and supporters will travel to Colchester, Enfield and Vernon - Courtney's hometown.
Formica said his track record as a successful businessman and first selectman has prepared him for his candidacy.
Formica and his late wife founded Flanders Fish Market nearly 30 years ago in what he described as an abandoned house. The family still owns the restaurant and seafood market.
Formica has served in various municipal positions for the past 21 years, including the past six years as first selectman. He also served as vice chairman of the Southeastern Connecticut Council of Governments, which represents 20 towns, the two federally recognized tribal nations and local military institutions in the region.
He said that experience has made him familiar with the broader issues of the region and state.
"More and more, what's happening in Hartford and Washington has an effect on Main Street," Formica said. "We need to take a close look at where we are and make sure the American Dream is available to every future generation."