For Connecticut’s 2nd U.S. Congressional District seat, The Bulletin endorses incumbent Democratic Rep. Joe Courtney for re-election on Nov. 8.
For a decade, Courtney has proven himself as an effective advocate for Eastern Connecticut in the House of Representatives, and his ability has only grown over the years. Courtney’s tireless work ethic, intellectual vigor and sound legislative judgment have enabled him to represent the vast 2nd District ably and comprehensively.
Courtney’s three opponents — Republican Daria Novak, Libertarian Dan Reale and Green Party candidate Jonathan Pelto — offer voters a broad spectrum of political beliefs from which to choose. Each is a credible candidate who brings serious ideas to the table.
But in order for us to decline endorsing Courtney, there would need to be some evidence that the quality of his work had deteriorated. We see no such indication, and in fact Courtney seems only to become more effective.
We hardly need to remind voters of Courtney’s record defending and supporting Eastern Connecticut’s major military assets, namely the sub base in Groton and nearby Electric Boat. The latter inked an five-year, 10-boat contract in 2014 worth $17.6 billion, and this year, the shipbuilder cemented its status as the primary contractor in the Navy’s bid to replace its aging fleet of intercontinental missile-bearing submarines.
That’s meant major hiring growth at the shipyard — and a ripple effect into secondary and post-secondary educational institutions, which with Courtney’s support are striving to meet workforce demands by equipping young people with skills needed by EB and other local manufacturers.
In other words, Courtney has been instrumental in creating well-paying jobs here — and giving Eastern Connecticut students opportunities to access them. That’s the sort of broad thinking and long-term vision for growth that make for great leadership — and a stronger economy.
Novak contends that the country needs to accumulate military assets, including submarines, more quickly and reinvest in defense generally as we face a “second cold war” with Russia, China and North Korea moving into our sphere of influence, as she put it to our board. Given that defense spending is by far the biggest piece of the discretionary federal budget — and our military spending far outstrips that of any other nation — we disagree.
Moreover, Novak also proposes to cut taxes across the board and offers no explanation, beyond a stale appeal to Reaganomics, of how those numbers would add up to a balanced budget.
Novak hangs her hat on her national defense expertise, and she demonstrates a great depth of thought and understanding in that area. And she too recognizes the importance of expanding trade schools and promoting pride in those lines of work. But Novak’s priorities are jumbled, and her fiscal reckoning questionable at best. Courtney, on the other hand, has a solid record of maintaining Eastern Connecticut’s stake in national defense even amid congressional dysfunction. That requires a compromising attitude and political savvy, not alarmism.
Courtney’s other conservative opponent, Reale, has a strong position on student debt, aspects of which are laudable. While Courtney has done admirable work capping student loan interest rates, and is striving to pass a related refinancing bill, Reale says most student loans are fraudulent and ought to be dischargeable via bankruptcy. Courtney agreed with the latter point, in effect endorsing a change that would upend higher education financing. Given the chilling effect outstanding debt has on the economy, perhaps such a shakeup is just what is needed.
Pelto — who concedes he is running more to raise issues than to challenge Courtney, whom he’s known for decades — advocates for a more progressive tax code that borrows heavily from Sen. Bernie Sanders’ plan, which would raise taxes on the rich and close many corporate loopholes. A longtime education advocate, Pelto also opposes what he views as oppressive federal oversight in public education.
Each candidate’s philosophical position will attract a contingent of Eastern Connecticut voters. But at this time, we see no compelling reason to recommend a change from Courtney’s steady leadership and fact-based, centrist style.October 30th, 2016