U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney

District map

Official web site


Election history: Courtney unseated three-term Republican Rob Simmons by 83 votes in 2006. He challenged Simmons and lost in 2002.

He previously was elected to four terms in the state House of Representatives, beginning in 1986. He was the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor on a losing ticket led by Barbara B. Kennelly in 1998.

In 2008, he was cross-endorsed by the Working Families Party.

2008 general election:

Joe Courtney (D) 198,984 62 percent
Joe Courtney (WF) 13,164 4 percent
Sean Sullivan (R) 104,574 32 percent
G. Scott Deshefy (*G) 6,300 2 percent


Campaign finance: Courtney spent nearly $1.8 million to Sullivan’s $395,207 and Deshefy’s $4,903 in 2008.

How the district leans: Barack Obama won 59 percent of the vote in 2008, while John Kerry took 54 percent in 2004.

Background: Courtney arrived in Washington as “Landslide Joe,” a tentative congressman-elect whose 83-vote recount victory was announced by House Speaker-elect Nancy Pelosi at a dinner for the incoming class. His first months in Washington were vividly described in a long Washington Post story about the life of a new congressman.

Courtney’s big departure from the Democratic leadership and the rest of the Connecticut delegation was over the $700 billion bailout of Wall Street. He was Connecticut’s sole no vote, a position that he says generated as much grief as praise from his constituents.

He supported increasing the minimum wage, expanding health coverage for children, raising gas-mileage standards and banning discrimination against gays in the workplace.

On defense, he is a naval spending hawk, a position that congressmen of either party tend to assume when nuclear submarines are built and based in their districts. In his first term, with the help of senior congressmen, Courtney scored a major win with $588 million additional funding for submarines.

Democratic leadership gave Courtney a seat on the Armed Services Committee, an important perch for congressman with a base of defense contractors. On Education and Labor, he sits on a subcommittee on health, employment labor and pensions. Courtney has been a policy wonk on health since his days as a state legislator.

An assessment by The Almanac of American Politics had Courtney voting liberal 73 percent of the time in 2007 and 82 percent in 2008.

Courtney is married and has two children. His wife, Audrey, is a nurse practitioner. They live in Vernon, where Courtney practiced law before his election to Congress.

Committees: Education and Labor, Armed Services

Education: B.A, Tufts University; J.D., University of Connecticut School of Law, J.D.

2008 Financial Disclosure: Courtney had a net worth of between $203,020 and $745,000, ranking him 250th in the House, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

To see his financial disclosure form and a list of his holdings, click here.