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Democrat announces challenge to Rep. Joe Courtney

Congressman Joe Courtney has a Democratic challenger.

Anthony DiLizia is running in Connecticut’s 2nd U.S. House District against Courtney, who has held the seat for eight terms with a strong hold on the district.

DiLizia’s campaign describes him as “a proud, gay, United States Army Veteran” whose run “is breaking down the walls of the political machine that has dominated our district for almost 15 years.”

The 25-year-old candidate lives in Stonington now and was raised in Norwich and Salem. He joined the Army when he was 18 and in 2015 was deployed to the Middle East, where he was an intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance tactical controller, “maintaining tasking authority over assigned U.S. drone assets while conducting aerial intelligence operations,” according to his campaign website.

DiLizia said he considers himself to be more to the left of Courtney on certain issues, such as education and the environment. He doesn’t criticize the incumbent congressman personally, but rather the length of his tenure.

“Of course, Rep. Courtney has done an amazing job, and don’t get me wrong, he certainly has done well for the district, but I believe personally that the Democratic Party as a whole needs to start taking a more aggressive stance for certain issues. Our environmental crisis is very dire and needs to be addressed,” he said.

He advocated for congressional term limits, as well.

“It’s pretty clear that the political machine in Connecticut likes the same old politics. If we don’t adapt to the people, if we don’t start listening to the people, then we are going to start to lose,” he said.

DiLizia is currently the chief operations officer for Make Your Mark Customizations, a merchandising company that customizes products such as water bottles or mugs with a storefront location in Olde Mistick Village. He’s responsible for expansion of corporate and business accounts, he said.

Courtney also faces a challenge on the right from state Rep. Mike France, R-Ledyard, who announced his run in February. A Navy veteran, France is serving his fourth term representing the 42nd House District, which includes most of Ledyard, all of Preston, and a portion of the Uncasville and Oakdale sections of Montville.

Courtney easily secured reelection to an eighth term in Congress during the November 2020 election, beating Republican Justin Anderson, a lieutenant colonel in the Connecticut National Guard and a retired correctional officer.

Anderson, a political newcomer, emerged as the Republican challenger after Tom Gilmer, the GOP-endorsed candidate, was arrested on domestic violence charges on the eve of the primary election. Anderson indicated in an interview after his defeat that he intended to run again in two years.

DiLizia hasn’t yet officially filed to run. Once his campaign reaches the $5,000 Federal Elections Commission fundraising requirement, then it can file its final FEC paperwork. He said that all of the initial paperwork with the FEC and Internal Revenue Service has been completed and submitted, and the “Anthony DiLizia for Congress Committee” is officially documented as a political organization by the IRS.

According to the FEC, as of June 30, Courtney’s campaign has spent more than $108,000 and has more than $766,000 cash on hand, while France’s campaign has spent nearly $26,000 and has almost $89,000 cash on hand.

s.spinella@theday.com

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