Rep. Courtney serving 2nd District well

How strong of a candidate is Rep. Joe Courtney in the 2nd Congressional District? Consider that no Republican state lawmaker, mayor or selectman was willing to take on the incumbent Democrat. Republicans could not even come up with a multi-millionaire businessperson to run.

Unlike some carefully delineated districts where Democratic congressmen and women are safely ensconced, the 2nd District, sprawling across the eastern half of Connecticut, has a tradition of being competitive, with some of the closest elections in history. In 2006, Rep. Courtney won his way into office with a 91-vote victory over Congressman Rob Simmons. In 1994, incumbent Rep. Sam Gejdenson defeated Republican Ed Munster by 21 votes.

So it is not a safe district that discouraged Republican challengers, but Rep. Courtney's record of achievement. Into the fray went Republican Lori-Hopkins Cavanagh, a New London real estate agent. In her last run for office, the New London mayoral race, Ms. Hopkins-Cavanagh got 2 percent of the vote.

If jobs and economy are your priorities, Rep. Courtney is your guy. He has effectively used his position on the Subcommittee on Seapower and Expeditionary Forces, part of the House Committee on Armed Services, to make the case for submarine construction. It resulted this year in the largest shipbuilding contract in history, $17.6 billion to construct 10 Virginia-class attack submarines at Electric Boat in Groton and Newport News Shipbuilding in Virginia over the next five years.

The deal should sustain a well-paid workforce of about 12,000 at EB. The state Office of Military Affairs estimates that 600 supply companies will continue to feed into the shipbuilding program.

Despite Ms. Hopkins-Cavanagh's contention that he is a "one-trick pony," the reality is that Rep. Courtney's office has led several trade missions to help manufacturers in the district tap foreign markets. With a bipartisan push locally, Rep. Courtney led a successful effort to land a highly competitive $8.2 million federal transportation grant. When combined with state and private contributions, it will pay for rebuilding the New England Central rail. The line ties into the Port of New London. Improving the capacity of the tracks to handle heavier freight loads will provide economic opportunities for the port and throughout the heart of the 2nd District.

On the topic of education, the incumbent congressman received national attention for his work to reach across the aisle and prevent a big increase in Stafford student loan interest rates for college students.

Rep. Courtney is politically moderate and willing to take a principled stance. Earlier in his career, he opposed the massive Wall Street bailout. His fear of a lack of safeguards on use of the money proved prescient. More recently, he voted to support the administration's plan to confront the Islamic State, while other members of the state congressional delegation ran for cover with "no" votes.

He is willing to seek compromise, but has not often found willing partners among the Republican majority in control of the House. For example, while a supporter of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) as the best means available to assure access to health care insurance in this country, he recognizes improvements are needed, but House Republicans only want to repeal the law, not try to fix it.

A former Libertarian, Ms. Hopkins-Cavanagh's grievances with the federal government are many. She wants to repeal the ACA, but offers no coherent policy to replace it. Ms. Hopkins-Cavanagh fears heavy-handed efforts by the Obama administration to address discriminatory housing practices will undermine local zoning rules. She considers implementation of Common Core standards for schools to be a takeover of local school boards. The Republican's immigration reform plans boil down to sealing the borders.

She warns of a country drifting toward fascism and guilty of reverse institutional racism.

Her views are over the top and outside the mainstream - and that is being kind.

Also in the race are Green Party candidate William Clyde and Libertarian Dan Reale.

The choice in this election could not be clearer. We urge voters to re-elect our endorsed candidate, Rep. Joe Courtney.

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 Pat Richardson, Editorial Page Editor Paul Choiniere, retired Day editor Lisa McGinley, Managing Editor Tim Cotter and Staff Writer Julia Bergman. 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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