Ryan again in 139th

In the 139th House District, voters get to choose between the reluctant Republican candidate and the Democrat who seeks to represent the district for a 12th straight two-year term, a very long time without new blood.

While it would be great to see someone head to Hartford with some new ideas and a different perspective, it would be a mistake for voters to replace the experience and influence that come with prolonged incumbency for someone who does not appear particularly eager to take the job.

Running for the Republicans is Bozrah businessman Jonathan C. Gilman, 61, who never intended to be in this position. As Bozrah Republican Town Committee chairman, Mr. Gilman chaired the caucus at which the party was to choose a candidate to challenge Rep. Kevin Ryan. When no candidate came forth, the caucus turned to Mr. Gilman. He agreed to fill the slot until someone actually interested in running came forward. No one ever did.

As a result, Mr. Gilman has been effectively a non-candidate, neither raising money nor seeking public campaign financing (a program he says he opposes). And while he held his own at a debate Tuesday at Montville Town Hall - railing against high taxes, too much regulation and Democratic political dominance - he did not offer coherent policy alternatives to address his grievances.

The reluctance of any strong Republican candidate to come forward to challenge incumbent Rep. Ryan is understandable. In addition to incumbency and name recognition, Rep. Ryan benefits from the current configuration of the district, which includes sections of heavily Democratic Norwich and Montville, with Republican-leaning, but lightly-populated, Bozrah tossed in.

While not brimming with new ideas, Rep. Ryan, 62, is a pragmatic and experienced lawmaker. He can be counted on to work with the rest of the region's delegation to assure southeastern Connecticut gains its share of state grants and gets the attention of the Malloy administration. Rep. Ryan is detail-oriented and his intimate knowledge of public policy and the workings of government came through clearly in the recent debate.

And he knows how to cut a deal.

The Day endorses Rep. Kevin Ryan in the 139th District.

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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