Norwich — U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney scored another convincing victory and a fourth term in Congress Tuesday as voters again chose him to represent the state's 2nd Congressional District.
Courtney, a Democrat, captured the win by 36 percentage points, according to results available at 11 p.m. with 58 percent of the district's precincts reporting. He easily defeated Paul Formica, the Republican challenger and the first selectman of East Lyme.
It was the third straight election in which Courtney's margin of victory was at least 21 percentage points.
"I view this vote as a vote of confidence. These are very challenging times, not only for our country but for eastern Connecticut," Courtney said as he addressed about 80 supporters at the Holiday Inn in Norwich. "You have to earn it every single day in terms of asking for their support."
Courtney received 116,300 votes, or 67 percent, as of 11 p.m. Formica finished with 54,397 votes, or 31 percent. Green Party candidate Colin Bennett and Libertarian candidate Dan Reale each garnered about 1 percent of the vote.
Since being elected to his seat in 2006, Courtney, 59, has helped secure funding for the annual production of two submarines at Electric Boat in Groton. He also led efforts to secure $80 million for infrastructure improvements at the Naval Submarine Base.
Among his other work, Courtney led the effort to postpone interest rates from doubling on federally subsidized student loans. And he advocated for extending health care coverage as he voiced early support for the Affordable Care Act.
Formica, 59, was a late entry to the race after Christopher Coutu dropped out to run for the state Senate seat in the 19th district.
The three-term first selectman of East Lyme ran a campaign in which he routinely turned the conversation to his business experience. Formica owns the Flanders Fish Market in East Lyme and said his experience managing the restaurant has translated well to municipal government and could do the same on a national level.
Knowing he was the underdog, Formica said, he still had a great day Tuesday touring the district and talking to voters. He was in 16 of the district's 64 towns, he said, and three of his children were in several others.
His last stop of the day was his restaurant, where Republican supporters dined on lobster macaroni and cheese and other seafood delicacies while waiting for results to come in. While early returns indicated Formica had lost even in East Lyme, his spirits remained high and he said he would do what he could to work with Courtney.
"I promised we would do whatever we could to fix the economy and find good jobs. To come together," he said. "That's what we gotta do."
Courtney started Election Day by casting his vote in Vernon, where he resides. He was scheduled to make 10 stops in seven other towns, including Groton, New London and Norwich. He stopped in at Dev's on Bank, a restaurant in New London, to congratulate owner Candace Devendittis on the fifth anniversary of her business.
Later he watched the election returns come in with his supporters. He entered a ballroom at the Holiday Inn just after 9:30 p.m. to a rousing round of applause. He then gave a five-minute speech, which ended with supporters chanting his name.
"Despite all the negativism that's been out there, we've focused like a laser beam on the needs of the people in eastern Connecticut," Courtney said of the campaign season.
Courtney beat former U.S. Rep. Rob Simmons in 2006 in his second run for the 2nd Congressional District seat. He lost to Simmons in his first attempt in 2002.
He raised more than $1.4 million in campaign contributions during this election cycle. That total was 13 times more than Formica's, according to campaign finance filings.
Across the 64-town district, there were 427,753 registered voters. Unaffiliated voters (197,774) make up nearly half of the district's voters and outnumber both Democrats (133,842) and Republicans (91,599), according to the Secretary of the State's office.