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    Friday, January 27, 2023

    Courtney for Congress

    Congressman Joe Courtney is a throwback. This Democrat measures success by the ability to get things done for his district, not by landing appearances on cable news network by ridiculing political opponents on social media. In fact, he is quite willing to work with Republican lawmakers in areas where they can find common ground.

    In an age when American politics is centered on getting attention by depicting the other side as malicious, his measured approach can seem downright boring.

    But it is an approach which, since his initial election in 2006, has well served Connecticut’s Second District. The district ranges across eastern Connecticut and includes nearly half its municipalities.

    Courtney has at times been in the majority, sometimes in the minority. Regardless, he has built consensus behind the need for increased submarine construction as a bulwark of the nation’s defense. That has meant substantial job growth at Electric Boat in Groton and for the subcontractors feeding into its production.

    With his service on the House Armed Services Committee, and as chair of the Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces, the eight-term incumbent has well positioned himself to assure submarine development remains a priority.

    But Courtney’s influence extends beyond submarine construction. The congressman helped secure more than $100 million in federal funding to improve the Submarine Base in Groton, ending speculation about it again being targeted for closure. He played an instrumental role in extending TRICARE health insurance benefits to dependents under age 26 and in creating supportive housing for homeless veterans.

    While winning significant federal aid for the Second District’s cities, particularly via the Covid-relief bills approved by the Democrats in Congress, the incumbent also made it a priority to direct federal aid in support of rural communities — helping retain open space, the region’s farming heritage, and protecting its environment.

    Courtney faces a credible challenge from Republican state Rep. Mike France. That is a welcomed development. In recent elections, Republicans have not fielded strong candidates in the Second. That did not well serve the democratic process or voters.

    Voters have a clear choice between capable candidates.

    Courtney is a left-of-center Democrat. For example, Courtney proposes the incremental step of making Medicare available to those 55 and older, but rejects the idea of nationalizing our healthcare system. He is a strong supporter of police, and of police accountability, but rebuffs those in the party who call for reducing police and moving money to social programs. Courtney wants both strong policing and a robust social safety net.

    France is a rock-bed fiscal conservative. His goal is less government involvement in people’s lives. France criticizes the spending on pandemic recovery as excessive, contributing to the spike in inflation. He would roll back the bill passed by the Democratic majority to impose a 15% minimum tax on corporations. Aside from Medicare, the Republican challenger sees providing for health care as largely the province of the private sector.

    On abortion, the differences are stark. France applauded the Supreme Court ruling reversing Roe vs. Wade, ending the constitutional protection to obtain an abortion as a matter of privacy. Courtney considered it a terrible ruling and has long sought to codify the protections provided by Roe as federal law.

    Courtney’s positions on these matters largely align with the editorial board’s positions. But for those who want less government regulation, less government welfare for the needy, and greater ability to restrict or ban abortion, they have their candidate in France.

    Concerning the increased submarine construction and its economic benefits, it is true Courtney’s influence would be mitigated if Republicans capture the House, a quite possible outcome. Yet, as noted earlier, Courtney has shown he can be effective in the minority. It would be naïve to assume that France, as a freshman congressman, would have the pull to protect Connecticut’s defense sector.

    Also on the ballot is Green Party candidate Kevin Blacker and Libertarian William Hall.

    In exposing malfeasance and ethical lapses in the redevelopment of State Pier in New London, Blacker has demonstrated how citizen advocacy can make a difference. What Blacker has not demonstrated is that he is ready to effectively represent the region in Congress. It could be that, rather than joining the political game, Blacker is most effective doing what he is good at — blowing whistles with no concerns over whose ears get hurt.

    Hall, an anti-vaxxer with a radical agenda, is not a serious candidate.

    The Day Editorial Boards gives its wholehearted endorsement to incumbent Congressman Joe Courtney.

    Comment threads are monitored for 48 hours after publication and then closed.