Coutu again in 47th

In 2008 The Day took a leap of faith in endorsing a young Republican who faced an entrenched Democrat in a 47th House District with a record of electing Democrats.

While the newspaper parted ways with that challenger on some issues, his enthusiasm and passion for making state government more efficient and responsive impressed us. In a year when Democrats swept into large majorities at all levels of government on the coattails of Barack Obama, that Republican emerged victorious in the district serving northern Norwich, Sprague, Scotland and Canterbury.

In terms of enthusiasm and being a voice for fiscal moderation, Rep. Christopher Coutu, 34, has not disappointed. But with House Republicans a tiny minority, Rep. Coutu has faced frustration in trying to push his budget-cutting agenda. With Republicans stretched thin, Rep. Coutu has served on four committees - Finance, Veterans Affairs, Judiciary and Human Services - providing experience that would serve him well in a second term.

He faces Sprague First Selectwoman Catherine Ann Osten, a retired corrections lieutenant who served as a union official and organizer. Democrats have put a quality candidate forward in trying to recapture this seat. Ms. Osten, 55, would enter the House with a working knowledge of government at the state and local level.

She understands some cuts - such as denying access to early childhood education and failing to maintain a social safety net - can mean higher spending in the long run if the state must deal with a poorly educated work force and people in crisis.

Ms. Osten seeks tax reform and says tax increases must be part of the budget solution, along with consolidation of state agencies. Rep. Coutu says any tax increase must be a last resort after serious cutting. We fear Ms. Osten may be too quick to support the tax option.

Having backed Rep. Coutu before, we are not about to abandon him when Hartford appears ready to get serious about reducing spending. The Day again endorses Rep. Christopher Coutu.

The Day editorial board meets regularly with political, business and community leaders and convenes weekly to formulate editorial viewpoints. It is composed of President and Publisher Tim Dwyer, Editorial Page Editor Paul Choiniere, Managing Editor Tim Cotter, Staff Writer Julia Bergman and retired deputy managing editor Lisa McGinley. However, only the publisher and editorial page editor are responsible for developing the editorial opinions. The board operates independently from the Day newsroom.

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