Coutu considering run for Prague's seat, would drop Second District race

Hartford -- State Rep. Chris Coutu, R-Norwich, said today he is considering suspending his campaign against Joe Courtney in the Second Congressional District and instead run for the state Senate seat that Edith Prague will vacate at year’s end.

Coutu told The Day that he would discuss the matter tonight with his wife, and announce his decision tomorrow afternoon.

“It’s a very big decision,” Coutu said in a brief interview this afternoon, the final day of the 2012 legislative session.

Prague, 86, a Democrat and 15-year veteran of the Senate, told colleagues on Tuesday that she will not seek reelection this fall, adhering to the cautionary advice of her doctor.

Prague’s 19th Senate District includes the towns of Andover, Bozrah, Columbia, Franklin, Hebron, Lebanon, Ledyard, Lisbon and Sprague, along with portions of Montville and Norwich.   

Coutu said a state Senate seat appeals to him for several reasons: He would have more influence over legislation in that chamber, being one of 36 lawmakers, in comparison to being one of 151 representatives in the House. He would represent more constituents.

As for the congressional race, Coutu said he is having second thoughts about leaving his family for extended periods of time if he were elected to Washington.

But after some prodding, he acknowledged that his campaign to unseat Courtney in November, a Democratic incumbent with a substantial fundraising advantage, is an uphill battle. 

“That is David versus Goliath,” Coutu said.”And sometimes I do not mind being in that position... but then you add in how the result is me being away from my family.”

Should Coutu decide to pivot toward the state Senate, he could face a familiar challenger. Prague said today she would endorse Sprague First Selectman Cathy Osten, a Democrat, as her successor. “She’s a very strong labor person,” Prague said.

Coutu outpolled Osten 57 percent to 42 percent in the 2010 election, fending off her challenge that year.

Osten previously announced a run this fall for Coutu’s seat in the House, which he still intends to give up.


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