Five-term incumbent Rep. Courtney declares victory in 2nd Congressional District

Congressman Joe Courtney (D-Conn.) listens to the applause from the stage after claiming victory in the 2nd Congressional District race Tuesday, November 8, 2016 in Norwich. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
Congressman Joe Courtney (D-Conn.) listens to the applause from the stage after claiming victory in the 2nd Congressional District race Tuesday, November 8, 2016 in Norwich. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)

Norwich — Five-term incumbent Democratic Congressman Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, secured another win Tuesday, early unofficial votes showed.

Just before 10 p.m. Tuesday, Courtney's staff said he had secured about 64 percent of the vote with results still coming in for the district, which encompasses 64 towns and covers much of the eastern part of the state.

"We've reached a point where we feel really good about the results that have come in across the district," Courtney said in declaring victory to a crowd of about 100 supporters at the Holiday Inn in Norwich around 9:45 p.m.

He first congratulated his opponents "who worked real hard," before thanking his campaign staff, who appeared on stage with him.

Courtney faced three challengers this time around: Republican Daria Novak, Green Party candidate Jonathan Pelto and Libertarian Dan Reale.

In his speech, Courtney pointed to issues he's fought successfully for in a polarized Congress such as college affordability, dredging and a new rail line that will run from New London up to Canada.

"They're real issues that matter to people in terms of whether or not we're going to build a strong future for this great part of the state," Courtney said. "Looking forward that's exactly what I intend to continue to do."

Courtney significantly outspent his opponents. He received more than $1 million in contributions, according to the most recent Federal Election Commission filings. Novak raised $42,851, Pelto raised $4,570 and Reale did not raise any money, filings show.

At 10:30 p.m., Novak said she had just gotten off the phone with Courtney to congratulate him.

"We respect the choices of the people of the state," she said.

This was the third time that Novak, 59, of Madison, ran for the seat. She worked for the State Department for about 10 years, including as a presidential appointee during the Reagan administration, and later started her own consulting company.

Novak said earlier in the night, before the polls closed, that "the biggest message after the election is to get rid of any bitterness and come together and work for America first."

"There's too much divisiveness," she said. "It's unhealthy."

She campaigned on issues such as cross-the-board tax cuts, free trade and reducing spending.

Reale, 34, of Plainfield, the Libertarian candidate, also has run for the 2nd District seat before, most recently in 2014, when he got 1 percent of the vote.

He said earlier Tuesday that his message resonated more at the polls this time around. Reale, a paralegal who specializes in foreclosure defense, has run for Congress four times on the Libertarian ticket.

Throughout his campaign, he regularly pointed to the need to fix the country's economic issues which, he said, have not been well managed by the two party system.

Pelto, 55, of Mansfield, an education advocate and blogger, served for 10 years as a Democratic state legislator. Pelto said at about 5:15 p.m. he was running for two reasons: to push issues that he feels deserve more attention and to hold the Green Party's one percent line.

Reale and Pelto could not be reached to comment on the results of the election.

j.bergman@theday.com

Editor's Note: This version clarifies that Green Party candidate Jonathan Pelto and Libertarian Dan Reale spoke to The Day early Tuesday evening, but could not be reached to comment on the results of the election.

Supporters applaud as Congressman Joe Courtney (D-Conn.) takes the stage to claim victory in the 2nd Congressional District race Tuesday, November 8, 2016 in Norwich. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
Supporters applaud as Congressman Joe Courtney (D-Conn.) takes the stage to claim victory in the 2nd Congressional District race Tuesday, November 8, 2016 in Norwich. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)

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