Two Republicans face off in Aug. 11 primary to challenge Joe Courtney
Two Republicans are vying to challenge U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, a Democrat, for the 2nd Congressional District seat he’s held since 2007.
Thomas Gilmer, a commercial roofer, and Justin Anderson, a lieutenant colonel in the Connecticut National Guard, are seeking the Republican nomination in the Aug. 11 primary election.
The Connecticut Republican Party endorsed Gilmer, who received 234 votes to Anderson’s 50, during a May 11 convention conducted virtually.
Gilmer was unavailable for an interview but in an op-ed published recently in The Day he outlined jobs and economic growth as a key focus of his campaign.
“Eastern Connecticut has been plagued for over a decade by stagnant job growth and an ever-increasing number of residents fleeing the Constitution State,” he said.
The 29-year-old Gilmer grew up in Streetsboro, Ohio, a small city about 30 miles southeast of Cleveland, and moved to East Hampton, Conn., in 2014 to start a commercial and industrial construction management company, his campaign website says. He previously worked in the energy and private equity sectors.
“One of the top issues that we have all faced, especially in the COVID-19 economy, is affordability. Regulatory policies that have been voted and passed in bills to satisfy the desires of special interest needs are now coming back to hurt the working class,” he said in the op-ed published July 31.
Posts on his campaign’s social media pages and website indicate Gilmer is in favor of cutting taxes “across the board” to incentivize job and business creation, and supports investing federal dollars into infrastructure projects to “entice and incentive growth.”
Gilmer, who lives in Madison with his family, has been active in the Republican Party since he was 12 years old, his campaign website says, including helping to run a mayoral campaign in his hometown of Streetsboro, and running for a school board seat in Cleveland against his high school girlfriend’s father.
Both Gilmer and Anderson describe themselves as strong supporters of the Second Amendment and have criticized federal and state legislative proposals seeking to increase taxes on firearms and ammunition.
Anderson, 49, who lives in Salem, said in a recent phone interview that what compelled him to join the military — a desire to serve his country — is also what led him to run for political office.
Anderson said he has managed multiple federal budgets during his time in the Guard. In his current role, he's been aiding in the state's COVID-19 response.
"I've been part of the solution," Anderson said. "I'm proud of what Connecticut has done (to combat COVID-19)."
He also worked as a corrections officer for 20 years, retiring in 2013. In an Aug. 3 op-ed published in The Day, Anderson criticized the police accountability bill recently passed by the state General Assembly and signed into law by Gov. Ned Lamont.
"This is a rushed piece of legislation that was acted upon with almost no input, or consideration, from the law enforcement community," he said, adding the legislation will "profoundly change" the way police and corrections personnel operate.
He specifically criticized changes to "qualified immunity" in the legislation, which make it easier for the public to file lawsuits against police officers, departments and towns.
"How long will it be before criminals begin to file frivolous lawsuits against officers, who are simply following the letter of the law?" he said.
Like Gilmer, Anderson said he supports federal funding for infrastructure projects. He also said he supports the "continued funding of a strong military" including support for technical schools, grants for skilled labor and programs to develop a pipeline of skilled workers "to ensure our military contracts are continued and sustainable in the future."
On the topic of immigration, Anderson said he is in favor of a merit-based system, specifically mentioning an interpreter who aided him and other American soldiers in Afghanistan as an example of the type of person who should be allowed to immigrate to the U.S.
“We’re looking for the best people," he said. "An interpreter helping Americans, that’s what we want."
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