Courtney handily wins fifth term in Congress

Congressman Joe Courtney, right, gives Candace Devendittis, owner of Dev's on Bank, flowers for the 7th anniversary of her business while stopping by the restaurant in Bank Street for coffee while traveling around the area on Election Day Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014.  Devendittis said that Courtney helped her get a small business loan and also gave her flowers on her fifth anniversary on Election Day.
Congressman Joe Courtney, right, gives Candace Devendittis, owner of Dev's on Bank, flowers for the 7th anniversary of her business while stopping by the restaurant in Bank Street for coffee while traveling around the area on Election Day Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014. Devendittis said that Courtney helped her get a small business loan and also gave her flowers on her fifth anniversary on Election Day.

Norwich — In a decisive victory, voters returned U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, to Congress for a fifth term on Tuesday.

Courtney gave a speech to supporters at the Holiday Inn in Norwich around 10 p.m. At the time, he had not heard from his Republican opponent but said he was optimistic about results.

Republican Lori Hopkins-Cavanagh called him around 10:30 p.m. to concede the race, in which the Associated Press was reporting a 20-point Democratic lead.

Courtney, 61, emphasized that he “can point to real, concrete results” as a legislator and would never take the voters in the Second District for granted.

He returned to two of the victories he brought up frequently in debates and interviews: securing the Navy’s largest-ever contract with Electric Boat in Groton and a bipartisan effort to keep student loan interest rates low. His work to authorize the building of two submarines a year at EB earned him the nickname “Two-Subs Joe.”

Courtney was first elected in 2006 with a narrow defeat over then-Rep. Rob Simmons. Since then, he has handily won re-election.

The concession of Hopkins-Cavanagh, 54, a New London real estate broker, belied her confidence on the campaign trail Tuesday afternoon.

Wearing stylish beige heels that she swore weren’t hurting her feet, she stopped by polling places in New London County with her husband, Tim, and her Cockapoo, Sandy. “I couldn’t be happier,” she said around 2:30 p.m. as she boarded her campaign van. In Norwich, she chatted with a voter about their Italian immigrant ancestry; later, in Gales Ferry, she munched on cookies sold by a Girl Scout troop outside the Juliet W. Long School.

“My Facebook page is on fire,” added Hopkins-Cavanagh. “People want change.”

She had taken aim at Courtney for being a “one-trick pony” — a reference to the much-touted submarine project — and she at times drew criticism during her campaign for using words like “racist” and “fascist” to describe President Barack Obama.

On Tuesday night, she said the benefits of incumbency greatly helped Courtney, adding that “it all comes down to, he has the money … he got his message out there accordingly.”

Also running for the Second District seat were Dan Reale, 32, a Libertarian and freelance paralegal from Plainfield, and Bill Clyde, 58, a member of the Green Party and provost at Manhattan College. Each received approximately 1 percent of the vote.

On Tuesday afternoon, Courtney took a break from campaigning for a new good luck tradition — one that seems to have paid off.

Several years ago, Courtney helped the owner of Dev’s, a Bank Street restaurant in New London, with a small business loan modification. Then, on the night of the 2012 election, he showed up outside with flowers for owner Candace Devendittis to celebrate the restaurant’s fifth anniversary.

Devendittis — at the time a registered Republican — was touched that he remembered her on such a busy night. And when Courtney won a decisive re-election, he decided to make the visit a tradition.

“He works for Connecticut,” said Devendittis, who said Courtney has frequently visited her restaurant but never, until Tuesday, alerted the press — an action that convinced her that Courtney “is genuine.”

“He’s a congressman for us … it doesn’t matter what letter you have after your name,” she added.

k.catalfamo@theday.com

Twitter: @kccatalfamo

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