Joe Courtney (politician)

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Joe Courtney
Joe Courtney official photo.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Connecticut's 2nd district
Assumed office
January 3, 2007
Preceded by Rob Simmons
Personal details
Born (1953-04-06) April 6, 1953 (age 65)
Hartford, Connecticut, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Audrey Courtney
Education Tufts University (BA)
University of Connecticut (JD)

Joseph Courtney (born April 6, 1953) is the U.S. Representative for Connecticut's 2nd congressional district, serving since 2007. The district includes most of the eastern third of the state, including Norwich and New London. He is a member of the Democratic Party.

Early life and education[edit]

Courtney grew up in suburban Hartford. In 1975 he graduated from Tufts University. He earned a law degree from the University of Connecticut School of Law in 1978.

Career[edit]

Prior to Congress[edit]

After graduating from law school, Courtney worked as a public defender for three years. He became a partner in the law firm Courtney, Boyan & Foran, and also served as Town Attorney in Vernon, Connecticut, where he lives.

From 1987 to 1994, Courtney served in the Connecticut House of Representatives, representing Connecticut's 56th district. He was chairman of the Public Health and Human Service Committee and oversaw the Blue Ribbon Commission on Universal Health Insurance. In 1994, he was honored by Connecticut Magazine for his bipartisan efforts in the state house.

In 1998, after four years out of office, Courtney made an unsuccessful bid for Lieutenant Governor. In 2002, he ran for Congress against incumbent Republican Rob Simmons. Courtney did not announce his candidacy or raise money until September 2001; by that time, Simmons had more than $500,000 in campaign funding. Simmons defeated Courtney in the November election, 54% to 46%.[1]

Election to Congress[edit]

2006
Courtney's first official Congress photograph

Courtney challenged Simmons again in 2006, in a race that political strategists projected would be very close. Courtney was declared the winner on Election Day; initial tallies showed him ahead by 167 votes, out of more than 242,000 votes. Under Connecticut law the race qualified for an automatic re-canvass because the winning margin was less than one half percent. When the recount was concluded on November 14, Courtney was described as having received 91 votes more than Simmons.[2] The Washington Post later stated that the final margin was 83 votes. It was the tightest congressional race of 2006.[3]

Re-elections[edit]

2008[edit]

Courtney's 2008 Republican challenger was the former commanding officer of the Naval Submarine Base New London, Sean Sullivan.[4] Courtney won the election by a two-to-one margin.[5][6][7]

On May 21, 2008, he announced his endorsement of then-U.S. Senator Barack Obama for president.

2010[edit]

Courtney was challenged by Republican nominee Janet Peckinpaugh, Green Party nominee Scott Deshefy, and Libertarian write-in Dan Reale. Courtney was re-elected to another term.[8]

2014[edit]

Courtney faced off against businesswoman Lori Hopkins-Cavanagh in November. Hopkins-Cavanagh is a business owner and radio show host from New London, Connecticut.

2016[edit]

In 2016, Courtney was challenged by Republican Daria Novak, Green Party candidate Jonathan Pelto and Libertarian Dan Reale.[9] Novak was co-host of a weekly cable television show, "American Political Zone," and of a nationally syndicated radio show, "Vernuccio-Novak Report."[10]

2018[edit]

In April 2018, Dan Postemski, an Iraq War veteran and chairman of the Hampton Republican Town Committee, announced his plans to challenge Courtney in the 2018 election. Postemski said that he wanted "to bring common sense to budgeting" and that he was "a strong supporter of the 2nd amendment" and would "fight to the death to save it." In a reference to Courtney's participation in a gun-control sit-in, Postemski said, "Joe Courtney has literally sat down on the job, right on the floor of the House. That’s not how a leader makes change."[11]

U.S. House of Representatives[edit]

Tenure[edit]

In March 2015, after receiving two phone calls at home from scammers impersonating IRS agents demanding payment of owed taxes, Courtney warned his constituents to be wary of such scams.[12]

A golf game Courtney played with President Obama was highlighted on NPR in June 2015.[13]

In response to purported Republican hostility toward Muslims, Democratic National Committee Vice Chairwoman Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) urged Democratic members of Congress to invite Muslims as their guests to President Obama's State of the Union address in January 2016.[14] Accordingly, Courtney invited Dr. Mohammed Qureshi, president of the Baitul Aman Mosque, an Ahmadiyya house of worship in Connecticut. The invitation garnered considerable media attention.[15]

Political issues[edit]

GOP tax relief[edit]

In a statement responding to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, Courtney called it "one gigantic gift for corporations and the wealthiest Americans in exchange for next to nothing for average middle-class and working families."[16]

Gun control[edit]

Along with other members of Congress who demanded that the House pass stricter gun-control legislation, Courtney took part in a sit-in on the House floor on June 22, 2016.[17]

Health care[edit]

In 2010, Courtney was the leading voice in the House against the so-called "Cadillac tax" on high-dollar health plans, part of the funding proposed for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.[18]

Iraq War[edit]

In March 2008, Courtney described the U.S. policy in Iraq as "two-headed." While the Bush Administration asked troops "to serve and sacrifice on behalf of Iraq's fledgling government," Iraqi leaders are friendly with Iran. "The White House," he wrote, "needs to work with Congress to construct a reasonable long term security agreement with Iraq that address Iraq's relations with Iran."[19]

Iran nuclear deal[edit]

On August 6, 2015, Courtney issued a statement in support of President Obama's Iran deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. "I believe that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action is the best option for our nation and the international community to prevent Iran from gaining a nuclear weapons capability," he wrote.[20]

When President Trump decided to withhold certification of the Iran nuclear agreement, Courtney issued a statement in which he claimed that Trump's move "directly contradicts the opinion of our nation's highest military leadership" and "puts us at odds with our closest allies such as the U.K., France and Germany, and undermines our country's ability to credibly execute a multilateral diplomatic resolution of the crisis in the Korean peninsula."[21]

Military[edit]

Courtney is known for his success at delivering funding for his district's submarine bases, and has acquired the nickname "Two-Sub Joe" for having made possible the construction of two new submarines. In 2016, the Hartford Courant endorsed him primarily because he had "brought home defense jobs."[22][23]

Trump travel ban[edit]

In March 2017, Courtney protested President Trump's revised executive order temporarily restricting travel from six Muslim-majority countries. He maintained that America's "moderate allies from Muslim-majority nations" had "repeatedly warned President Trump that these rash orders damage our standing to lead the anti-ISIS collation" and that the executive order would result in a "backlash...overseas." Courtney added that the U.S. is "a nation of opportunity and a nation of immigrants, and this blanket ban on entry from six nations could mean that best and the brightest from those countries, and other Muslim-majority countries will no longer view the United States as an option for making a better life. This ban is not only a prize propaganda tool for terrorists who want to hurt us, it hurts American prestige abroad, and harms American businesses, schools, and institutions that rely on the hard work of immigrants from around the world, including these six countries."[24][25]

Committee assignments[edit]

Prior to the 112th Congress, Courtney served on the Committee on Education and Labor with membership on the Subcommittee on Higher Education, Lifelong Learning, and Competitiveness and Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions.

Caucus memberships[edit]

Controversies and criticism[edit]

Bipartisanship[edit]

Courtney has branded himself as bipartisan and has blamed various government crises on failure to "support a real compromise." He said in 2012 that though recent budget cuts to education were a "little heavy" and the Budget Control Act "ham handed," he voted for them out of a spirit of compromise. "It took guys like me to cross the aisle and make sure we didn't fall off the tracks there as a country," Courtney said.[31]

In a March 30, 2017, column, David Collins of The Day complained that in the era of Trump, Courtney's "calm diligence, his even-mannered consideration of the issues, his bent toward bipartisanship, which have been the hallmark of his successful terms in Washington," now seemed "a bit shy of the task at hand." While callers to a recent town hall meeting "laid out their many anxieties in the time of Trump, from fears about Medicaid to climate change and flood risks, Courtney responded with soothing retorts" and with "talk of bipartisanship and accommodation." Collins complained that would prefer to "hear a loud voice from the new party of no."[32]

Teleconferencing[edit]

Courtney was criticized in August 2009 for holding a teleconference with voters about health care instead of an in-person town hall. Richard Hanley, graduate journalism director at Quinnipiac University complained that part of Courtney's job "is to wade into the muck of the process as it is, not as we would like it to be."[33]

Spielberg's Lincoln[edit]

After seeing Steven Spielberg's film Lincoln in February 2013, Courtney wrote a letter to the director pointing out that although the film showed Connecticut House members voting against the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery, in fact the state's entire congressional delegation had supported the amendment. He asked Spielberg for some kind of acknowledgment of the error, perhaps on the DVD. "It's important that people be aware who saw this movie that we were a state that lost soldiers, were staunch supporters of Lincoln in both elections and, in the case of the Democrat from New Haven, actually voted against his party in support of the amendment," said Courtney, who made his letter public. "The state's good name, I personally feel, was tarnished a bit."[34] His criticism, in the words of the Washington Post, "played well back home in Connecticut," where it occasioned "a number of grateful newspaper editorials," but "set off alarms in showbiz circles: Ballots had just gone out to Oscar voters. Was the congressman trying to influence the Academy Awards in favor of another contender?" The Post noted that "Courtney had a debt to Ben Affleck," who had campaigned for him and whose film Argo was up against Lincoln for Best Picture.[35]

Personal life[edit]

Courtney lives with his wife, a nurse practitioner, and two children in Vernon, a suburb of Hartford.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Michael Leahy (June 10, 2007). "House Rules". Washington Post. 
  2. ^ Jennifer Medina (November 16, 2006). "Democrat Wins House Seat After Recount in Connecticut". New York Times. 
  3. ^ "Joe Courtney (D-Conn.)". The Washington Post. Retrieved 6 June 2018. 
  4. ^ Dankosky, John; Blanksteen, Melissa (2008-04-15). "2nd District Challenger Sean Sullivan". Where We Live. Connecticut Public Broadcasting. Archived from the original on 2008-10-14. Retrieved 2008-10-13. 
  5. ^ Mann, Ted (2008-11-05). "This Time, Courtney Cruises". The New London Day. Retrieved 2008-11-05. 
  6. ^ Gannon, Michael (2008-11-04). "Decision 2008: No doubt this time — Courtney wins big". Norwich Bulletin. Archived from the original on 2013-01-30. Retrieved 2008-11-05. 
  7. ^ Mahony, Edmund H.; Funkhouser ,David; Marteka, Peter (2008-11-05). "Courtney Re-Elected To Congress By Wide Margin". The Hartford Courant. Retrieved 2008-11-05. 
  8. ^ AP Election Results - Courant.com
  9. ^ Bergman, Julia. "Five-term incumbent Rep. Courtney declares victory in 2nd Congressional District". The Day. Retrieved 1 July 2018. 
  10. ^ Radelat, Ana. "Republican Novak making third try for Courtney's seat". CT Mirror. Retrieved 1 July 2018. 
  11. ^ Radelat, Ana. "Courtney draws 'Quiet Corner' challenger". CT Mirror. Retrieved 1 July 2018. 
  12. ^ "IRS Scammers Target Home of Congressman Joe Courtney". NBC Connecticut. Retrieved 1 July 2018. 
  13. ^ DANKOSKY, John. "What's It Like to Golf With the President?". WNPR. Retrieved 1 July 2018. 
  14. ^ SHABAD, REBECCA. "Democrats urged to bring Muslim-Americans to State of the Union". CBS. Retrieved 1 July 2018. 
  15. ^ Itkowitz, Colby. "Forgiving Muslim doctor whose mosque was shot at is attending State of the Union". The Washington Post. Retrieved 1 July 2018. 
  16. ^ "COURTNEY STATEMENT ON THE FINAL GOP TAX OVERHAUL". courtney.house.gov. Retrieved 1 July 2018. 
  17. ^ "Commentary: From the civil-rights struggle to Black Lives Matter, John Lewis blazes the trail". Reuters. Retrieved 1 July 2018. 
  18. ^ Patricia Murphy (January 11, 2010). "'Cadillac' Tax' Puts Obama on Collision Course With House Democrats". Politics Daily. 
  19. ^ Courtney, Joe. "Two-Headed Iraq Policy Sends Terrible Message (Rep. Joe Courtney)". The Hill. Retrieved 12 July 2018. 
  20. ^ Demirjian, Karoun; Phillips, Amber; Cameron, Darla. "Where lawmakers stand on the Iran deal". The Washington Post. Retrieved 5 July 2018. 
  21. ^ "Courtney Statement On Trump's De-Certification Of Iran Nuclear Agreement". courtney.house.gov. Retrieved 5 July 2018. 
  22. ^ "Joe Courtney (D-Conn.)". The Washington Post. Retrieved 7 July 2018. 
  23. ^ Lumsden, Carolyn. "Courant Endorsement: 'Two-Sub Joe' Courtney Delivered For District". The Hartford Courant. Retrieved 8 July 2018. 
  24. ^ "Courtney Statement On President Trump's Revised Travel Ban". courtney.house.gov. Retrieved 8 July 2018. 
  25. ^ RADELAT, Ana. "CT lawmakers reject Trump's new travel ban". The Connecticut Mirror. Retrieved 9 July 2018. 
  26. ^ "Members". New Democrat Coalition. Retrieved 5 February 2018. 
  27. ^ "Membership". Congressional Arts Caucus. Retrieved 13 March 2018. 
  28. ^ "Members". Afterschool Alliance. Retrieved 23 March 2018. 
  29. ^ [1]
  30. ^ "Members". Congressional NextGen 9-1-1 Caucus. Retrieved 30 May 2018. 
  31. ^ Bellmore, Michael. "U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney talks cooperation". New Haven Register. Retrieved 12 July 2018. 
  32. ^ Collins, David. "A too-calm Joe Courtney, in the time of Trump". The Day. Retrieved 12 July 2018. 
  33. ^ Christoffersen, John. "Courtney opts out of public forums on health care". Journal Inquirer. Retrieved 11 July 2018. 
  34. ^ DOWLING, Brian. "Courtney Faults 'Lincoln,' Says Spielberg Goofed On CT Slavery Vote". Hartford Courant. Retrieved 10 July 2018. 
  35. ^ "Rep. Joe Courtney gets lesson in Oscar politics in debate over 'Lincoln' accuracy". The Washington Post. Retrieved 12 July 2018. 

External links[edit]

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Rob Simmons
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Connecticut's 2nd congressional district

January 3, 2007 – present
Incumbent
Current U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Steve Cohen
D-Tennessee
United States Representatives by seniority
138th
Succeeded by
Keith Ellison
D-Minnesota