Coutu defeats Osten

Incumbent 47th House District Republican Christopher Coutu won reelection handily to his second term Tuesday, defeating Democratic Sprague First Selectwoman Cathy Osten in the district that covers Canterbury, Scotland, Sprague and the northern section of Norwich.

Coutu took the seat by a vote of 4,339 to 3,201, easily winning in Norwich and Canterbury and with a narrow victory in Scotland. Osten won her home town only narrowly, 650 to 593 in unofficial numbers gathered Tuesday night from campaign workers.

Although an incumbent, Coutu, 34, was successful in his "time for change" message. Coutu has had the distinction of being the only Republican in the southeastern Connecticut legislative delegation, winning in 2008 despite the Democratic sweep that year. Throughout the campaign, Coutu said he was not part of the Democratic "veto-proof majority" in Hartford that ushered in the huge state debt and a combination of taxation, borrowing and using federal stimulus money to balance the state budget.

On Tuesday night, he said he hoped Republicans would make enough gains to prevent Democrats from having a lock on the key votes in the legislature.

Osten could not be reached for comment late Tuesday as the results came in.

Coutu described his opponent, a retired state corrections officer and union leader, as tough and competent. He vowed to work closely with her and all leaders in the towns he represents.

During the campaign, Osten countered Coutu's complaints about state Democrats with her own record in Sprague of thrift and efficiency. The town has not had a local tax increase in three years while at the same time increasing open space, volunteer programs and improving sidewalks and other infrastructure.

Coutu's success in the 47th District is a new trend in this historically Democratic stronghold. A Taftville resident, he faced a woman who also grew up in the mill village and whose family ran popular restaurants in Norwich. Coutu easily carried the Taftville and Occum sections of Norwich Tuesday.

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