Mike France files to run for Congress again
Former state representative Mike France of Ledyard is running for Congress again, filing with the Federal Election Commission in late December and announcing his bid last Friday on the Lee Elci Show, in a conversation that touched on lessons learned, abortion, and Kevin McCarthy’s arduous but ultimately successful bid to become speaker of the house.
France lost to Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, in 2022 with 40.2% of the vote to Courtney’s 58.2%. France put up a stronger showing than any other Republican candidate since Courtney was elected in 2006. Since then Courtney’s challengers received between 29.4 and 38.8 % of the vote.
France filed a Statement of Candidacy form with the FEC on Dec. 29.
France, who was elected to represent the 42nd House District in 2014 and ultimately became chairman of legislature’s Conservative Caucus, told Elci, “The parallel is not dissimilar from when I ran for state rep the first time and lost. It came down to being able to get my message across a very large district, and name recognition.”
He heard that some people commented to his friends that they “voted straight Republican line, except…” and as a reason said, “Well, I never saw him on TV.”
France told The Day on Friday, “I think the challenge is getting that message out of what his voting record is, and essentially when you talk to people, it is about the contracts to EB, and that is almost exclusively what people talk about.”
He said building two submarines a year is insufficient and the country is falling behind China in readiness, and so the challenge is “to help them understand there is more to it, and the voting record of Joe Courtney is not in their interests financially.” France criticized Courtney for voting for so much government spending, and said inflation would be a priority if elected.
France said his early focus is thanking town committees for their hard work in the last campaign and letting them know he is running again. Asked about the team he is putting together, France said that is “up in the air.”
In a phone call Thursday, Courtney quickly said “no” when asked if he had a comment about France running again, though he did discuss some of the issues France talked about with Elci. The congressman said he was more focused on the U.S. hitting its debt ceiling.
The first topic Elci brought up was the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, which passed in the House of Representatives on Jan. 11 and which Courtney voted against.
The bill states that for an infant born alive after an abortion, a health care practitioner must “exercise the same degree of professional skill, care, and diligence” to preserve the life as they would for any other child born at the same gestational age, and then ensure the child is taken to a hospital. A violator could be fined or imprisoned, but the mother may not be prosecuted.
“The number-one thing that is protected by the Constitution is life,” France said, adding that “if a child is born at any rate, as a normal birth or they survived the abortion, they are a life.”
Courtney said Congress already voted on this issue in 2002 “and the law’s clear that any baby that’s born alive needs to be protected by the law.”
He was referring to the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act of 2002, which affirms legal rights for “every infant member of the species homo sapiens who is born alive at any stage of development,” whether that “occurs as a result of natural or induced labor, cesarean section, or induced abortion.”
When the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act came up in 2019, a spokesperson for sponsor Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., told Factcheck.org that the 2002 law didn’t mandate medical care, and the newer bill is aimed at “passive” situations in which there’s a “backing away” from providing medical interventions.
But in situations where a planned baby is born extremely prematurely, parents may opt for the difficult decision of “comfort care” instead of invasive interventions that are still unlikely to save the baby’s life. A 2015 study on preterm infants in the New England Journal of Medicine, which does not mention abortion, states that “active intervention for infants born before 22 weeks of gestation is generally not recommended.”
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, abortions at or after 21 weeks represent 1% of all abortions in the U.S., and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that 92% of abortions performed in 2018 were in the first trimester, or 13 weeks.
Courtney noted that “every credible medical association in this area,” such as the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, vehemently opposed the Jan. 11 bill, which also did not receive a public hearing.
“This reckless bill would impede families from making significant quality-of-life decisions, such as being able to provide comfort or spiritual care in tragic and painful situations,” ACOG President Dr. Iffath Abbasi Hoskins said in a statement. “Abortions later in pregnancy are the result of complex decisions, and patients make these health care decisions thoughtfully, carefully, and painstakingly.”
Courtney said he thinks input from medical professionals made clear that “this is a solution in search of a problem,” as failed abortions are already extremely rare.
An Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll conducted in 2021 found that 61% of respondents said abortion should be legal in most or all cases in the first trimester, whereas 34% said this for the second trimester and 19% for the third. For the second trimester, 30% said abortion should be illegal in most cases and 35% said it should be illegal in all cases.
In a September interview with WFSB, France said he would vote in favor of a proposal banning abortion nationwide after 15 weeks. France said Friday that he thinks a “reasonable limit” with exceptions for the life of the mother, rape and incest “is a reasonable position and ought to be debated” in Congress.
House speaker bid
Elci said he thought France would have been one of the 20 Republican holdouts in McCarthy’s fight for the speakership, to which France replied, “Quite possible.”
France said he liked the rule changes, such as bringing back the ability to vote on floor-offered amendments. He likes the new ability for a single lawmaker to call for a vote to remove the speaker, calling it a check on power.
“That is not healthy, to have so much power into a single person to control what is being allowed to be debated. I think that having the open debate in the House, the People’s House, that was what the founders intended, so I think that’s all positive,” France said. “The only thing I wish that there was, I wish it had been able to be resolved before Jan 3.”
Courtney, on the other hand, called the new rules “a guarantee of instability” and said Congress has seen this before. He said former speakers John Boehner and Paul Ryan “were completely undermined by the fact that it only takes a handful of members to file a motion to vacate, which would end up ousting Boehner and Ryan,” and he thinks it is only a matter of time before the House runs into something similar.
France spoke with Elci before McCarthy announced committee assignments, but France said he thought having representation from the holdouts on committees, such as the Rules Committee, would be “a positive thing.” The New York Times reported that of the 20 holdouts, 12 denied the results of the 2020 election ― whereas France said Joe Biden was the rightful victor ― and 18 are associated with the far-right Freedom Caucus.
Another topic that came up on the Lee Elci Show was the discovery of classified documents in Biden’s former office in Washington, D.C. and personal residence in Delaware. France questioned why these documents are now being found six years after Biden was vice president, and said he hopes the special counsel appointed will get to the bottom of this and other questions.
Courtney told The Day he thinks Attorney General Merrick Garland acted quickly to bring in a special prosecutor, which he supports.
“The prosecutor needs to flesh out publicly the whole sort of timeline in terms of when documents were discovered and when the Department of Justice was called in,” he said, “and that is the way it should be handled.”