Selim G. Noujaim
Selim G. Noujaim
Selim G. Noujaim

Rep. Selim G. Noujaim, R-Waterbury, told a business group Thursday morning he is not seeking re-election this fall, giving Democrats hopes of picking up one of the GOP’s urban seats in a presidential election year.

Noujaim’s announcement to the Waterbury Regional Chamber of Commerce was first reported by the Waterbury Republican-American.

Democrats generally pick up state legislative seats  in presidential election years, but Republicans did not lose a seat in 2012, despite Barack Obama’s easy victory in Connecticut. Democrats now hold an 86 to 64 advantage in the House, with one vacancy that will be filled Feb. 2 in a special election.

Noujaim, 67, an executive at a family-owned manufacturing company, is one of two Republicans in the five-person Waterbury delegation to the House of Representatives. Democrats did not oppose Noujaim in 2014, but an open seat provides an opportunity. His 74th district is a triangle in the southeast corner of the city, where voters elected a Democratic alderman.

He is the second House member to announce his retirement. The other is Rep. Ed Jutila, D-East Lyme.

“I toyed with the idea two years ago,” Noujaim said later Thursday. “But I wanted to see the I-84 widening get underway.”

Noujaim voted for a bipartisan jobs package in 2011, but opposed Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s bioscience initiative, two minimum-wage increases and a mandate on some private employers to offer paid sick days. He also voted against the repeal of the death penalty, the decriminalization of small amounts of marijuana, the legalization of medical cannabis and the gun-control law passed in response to the murders of 26 children and staff at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.

He missed a vote on the 2015 budget while recovering from a minor stroke, but he said that did not play a role in his decision. “My health is fine,” he said.

Noujaim won a special election in February 2002, succeeding Democrat Michael Jarjura, who resigned to become mayor.

Mark is the Capitol Bureau Chief and a co-founder of CT Mirror. He is a frequent contributor to WNPR, a former state politics writer for The Hartford Courant and Journal Inquirer, and contributor for The New York Times.

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