Coutu plans to challenge Courtney in 2nd District

State Rep. Christopher Coutu, R-Norwich, speaks with Rep. Pam Sawyer, R-Bolton, during Thursday's legislative session at the Capitol in Hartford.
State Rep. Christopher Coutu, R-Norwich, speaks with Rep. Pam Sawyer, R-Bolton, during Thursday's legislative session at the Capitol in Hartford.

State Rep. Christopher Coutu, R-Norwich, announced Thursday that he's done exploring a campaign against U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney in the state's 2nd District and is now running to unseat the Democrat in 2012.

"I've had probably a few hundred emails telling me that we need an alternative," Coutu, 34, said between votes at the Capitol in Hartford. "They want somebody who believes that more government, more spending, more borrowing and more taxes is not the solution. And there is nobody in the 2nd who believes that more than me."

Coutu, who is serving his second term in the General Assembly, described Courtney as "a bona fide tax-and-spend liberal" who is "part of the problem" with the nation's faltering economy.

Coutu said he is running as a fiscal conservative who would work to keep taxes and government spending low and get "government off the backs of job creators." He also supports repealing the new health care law, which he thinks is unconstitutional.

Courtney is serving his third term in Congress after beating incumbent Republican Rob Simmons in 2006 in the nation's closest congressional race that year. He easily fended off challenger Sean Sullivan two years later and defeated Republican Janet Peckinpaugh in November.

Courtney spokesman Josh Zembik issued the following statement in regard to the congressman's first challenger for 2012:

"Congressman Courtney's focus today is not on an election more than a year and a half away with multiple competitors for the Republican nomination. [Courtney] is working to rein in gas prices and build on the economic progress and job growth of recent months. Especially given the extraordinary events of this week, this is a time for focusing on progress rather than politics."

Coutu won his seat in the 47th House District by defeating 14-year Democratic incumbent Jack Malone. Coutu received 54 percent of the vote. The district comprises Norwich, Canterbury, Scotland and Sprague.

A U.S. Air Force veteran and an officer in the Army National Guard, Coutu organized "honor flights" that take veterans to visit the World War II Memorial in Washington.

He announced in March the formation of his exploratory committee for a potential run against Courtney.

j.reindl@theday.com

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