East Lyme — After an emphatic victory Tuesday in the Republican primary for the 2nd Congressional District, Paul Formica said the win was proof that his small business ideals can work on a larger stage.
“We’re here because smaller business, Main Street common sense values that work for all of us every day, can work in government,” the East Lyme first selectman told a room packed with supporters at the Flanders Fish Market, his longtime business. “East Lyme is proof, and together we will bring that change to Washington.”
Formica convincingly defeated opponent Daria Novak in Tuesday’s primary, 14,439 to 7,042. He will square off in the November election against incumbent Joe Courtney, the Democrat who claimed the seat for the 2nd Congressional District in 2006 and has won his re-election bids with relative ease.
Formica said in his speech Tuesday that it is sometimes hard to fathom the last 28 years, during which he purchased a former old sea captain’s house on Chesterfield Road in 1983 to open the Flanders Fish Market. He then worked his way onto town boards and commissions before being elected first selectman.
Now in his third term as the town’s top official, Formica has appealed to voters in a mostly Democratic town. He will need to pull off a similar feat to unseat Courtney, a popular Democrat.
A victory in November would give Formica the chance to serve the district that is the state’s largest geographically and encompasses much of its eastern towns and cities.
“We all see what’s happened these past 3½ years. The current administration is keeping the America I believe in from succeeding,” Formica said.
Novak has never held public office. In an interview leading up to the campaign, she presented her arguments to lessen the federal government’s control over states. She also made headlines by questioning the eligibility of President Obama for the presidency and expressing doubts that global climate change is a result of human activity.
Novak’s campaign manager and sister, Suzanne Novak, said early Tuesday afternoon that a low voter turnout could be a positive for Daria Novak’s election chances. Suzanne Novak said that her sister’s campaign focused on making many personal phone calls in an effort to forge a strong support base that would hopefully translate into votes.
In the end, it didn’t work. She lost by a wide margin.
“We ran a positive, solution-based campaign,” Novak said in a statement released late Tuesday. “We will continue rebuilding the Republican Party in Connecticut and we look forward to defeating the Democrats in November and putting the country back on track.”
Formica in his remarks to his supporters criticized the legislation that Courtney worked for that aims to prevent interest rates from increasing on subsidized federal loans. He said the modest savings achieved by the legislation that Congress approved is a one-year fix that will need future changes to be funded.
Many who came to be a part of the celebration party at the restaurant gathered early on around two television screens at one end of the dining room. They watched intently as results started to come in from across the district.
Barbara Birmingham, who previously sat on the town’s Board of Selectmen, was among the first to arrive. She said she cast her vote for Formica in part because of his professional background.
“I voted for business people in this primary,” said Birmingham, who also cast her vote for Linda McMahon in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate. “With the mess our finances are in, we need business people.”