Editorials: Response to Joe’s decision to focus on work as Congressman, not run for Senate
The distractions of a Senate run would have posed a difficult challenge at a time when the 2nd District needs a strong, focused lawmaker.
The citizens of Connecticut’s 2nd Congressional District should welcome Rep. Joe Courtney’s decision not to seek the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate in 2012 and instead remain focused on his district.
After Sen. Joe Lieberman announced earlier this year that this term would be his last in the Senate, Rep. Courtney confirmed he was contemplating a run for the seat. It would have been a tough political challenge to extend his popularity statewide, and on Monday the congressman announced his decision not to enter the race.
Rep. Courtney first won election to Congress in 2006, proving to be a voice of moderation in a time of political polarization. Rep. Courtney fights effectively for the interests of his district – most dramatically in working to step up submarine construction work at Electric Boat in Groton – and keeps a high profile there when not in Washington.
Long an advocate for universal health care, he played a significant role in passing the Affordable Care Act last year. Yet he will buck his party leadership when he disagrees, which was demonstrated by his refusal to support the $700 billion TARP bailout.
A Senate bid would have been a difficult distraction, requiring intense fundraising and frequent visits to western Connecticut to build his profile statewide.
This is his first experience as a member of the minority party in the House. Rep. Courtney’s congressional know-how will be critical in defending programs for firefighters, police officers, homeless veterans and the environment, all of which are threatened by a meat-ax approach to budget-cutting.
“I have decided to focus on my work as a congressman,” said Rep. Courtney. “It is critical that eastern Connecticut continue to have a strong voice defending its priorities over the next two years.”
If raw political ambition were the sole motivation, we suspect Rep. Courtney would go for the greater glory and six-year term of a Senate seat. In choosing to continue fully serving his district, he has made the better choice.
Rep. Joe Courtney Picks Right Path
February 26, 2011
“Joe would have been a terrific candidate and senator for our state,” said U.S. Rep Chris Murphy Monday in reaction to fellow Democrat Joe Courtney’s decision not to run for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate in 2012.
Mr. Murphy — the 5th District congressman who is considered the frontrunner for that nomination — expressed what many Connecticut residents, especially those in the eastern part of the state, feel about the highly regarded Mr. Courtney, who is in his third term representing the 2nd District in the U.S. House.
Mr. Courtney’s decision to “focus on my work as a congressman” makes it less likely that Democrats lose both of those seats in next year’s election.
Had he opted to run for the Senate seat being vacated by independent Democrat Joseph I. Lieberman, Mr. Courtney would have had to give up his 2nd District House seat to run in a primary field that already includes Mr. Murphy, who chose to go up or out, and former Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz. And a general election win by a Democrat in this normally blue state can no longer be considered a given.
We have not always agreed with Mr. Courtney. His opposition to the necessary $700 billion TARP, or toxic assets relief program, is one example. But he’s been an attentive, knowledgeable, ethical and effective member of the House.
In contemplating a run for Senate, Mr. Courtney said his main consideration was, “How can I best continue serving the people of eastern Connecticut?” His answer was the right one.