Public Office: State House of Representatives 1980 to 1994; Vernon town attorney, 2003 to 2006; Member of Congress, 2006 to present
Current Position: Member of Congress, 2nd Congressional District
Background: Courtney scratched his way into office in 2006 with an 83-vote recount margin, snatching the second district, nearly half of Connecticut in land mass, from three-term Republican Rob Simmons.
His better than two-to-one margin in 2008 would seem to make the 2010 election a cinch, if not for his opponent -well-known former local TV anchorwoman Janet Peckinpaugh.
During his two terms, Courtney has had to thread a very thin needle in his centrist sprawling district where nearly half the registered voters are unaffiliated, and military-related jobs are critical at places like Electric Boat in Groton and the submarine base in New London. Through his membership on the Armed Services committee and his advocacy for naval spending, he has helped to keep money flowing – securing more than $600 million for submarines.
Courtney, who also serves on the Education and Labor Committee, also has the University of Connecticut in his district. He has supported the College Cost Reduction Act and other education funding initiatives. And he’s been a supporter of health care initiatives since his days as a state legislator.
But with a large working class constituency, Courtney broke from the Democratic leadership and the rest of the Connecticut delegation as Connecticut’s sole no vote on the $700 billion bailout of Wall Street. He cited the lack of accountability over the banks’ use of the funds, and the bonuses firms continued to pay executives. In the end, though, he said his stand generated as much criticism as praise from his constituents. He describes himself as a pragmatic centrist on spending issues.
Courtney supported increasing the minimum wage, expanding health coverage for children, raising gas-mileage standards and banning discrimination against gays in the workplace.
After leaving state office, Courtney was the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor on a losing ticket led by Barbara B. Kennelly in 1998. He also made a failed bid for Congress in 2002.
Education: B.A., Tufts University; J.D., University of Connecticut School of Law
Personal: Courtney is 57, married and has two children. His wife, Audrey, is a nurse practitioner. They live in Vernon.