The next Congress will need pragmatic people who are able to break the gridlock in Washington and get some things done. In the Republican primary for the 2nd Congressional District, the candidate most likely to fit that bill is East Lyme First Selectman Paul M. Formica.
The Courant endorses Mr. Formica in the Aug. 14 GOP primary. Our endorsement for the general election will appear in the fall.
Why Mr. Formica
Mr. Formica, a 58-year-old restaurant owner, got into the campaign just five days before the May nominating convention, when the presumed front-runner bowed out to seek another office. Despite his late entry into the race, Mr. Formica easily outpolled two other contenders. One of them, Daria Novak of Madison, is challenging him in the primary.
Mr. Formica's successful 11th-hour candidacy is attributable in large measure to the fine job he has done running East Lyme. After years on the zoning commission and board of finance, he was elected first selectman in 2007. He's kept taxes down by being careful with spending and working with Democrats to keep costs in check. He's pushed a revitalization project that has brought 10 new businesses to the downtown area.
Because his focus has been on town government for many years, Mr. Formica is not up to speed on some national issues. But he is the kind of thoughtful, practical person who can figure them out.
Why Not Ms. Novak
Mr. Formica's endorsement was also a vote against Ms. Novak. This is curious. She has an impressive resume. She worked at the State Department, speaks Chinese, has taught at the college level and founded an international consulting business.
But she is so far to the right on most issues that it is hard to imagine her reaching common ground with many Democrats. In an interview with The Courant's editorial board, Ms. Novak railed against excessive spending, overregulation and high corporate taxes that she said are bringing this country down. But she was hard-pressed to produce meaningful examples to illustrate her points.
In the spending area, Ms. Novak brought up the old GOP trope about doing away with the U.S. Department of Educationand possibly some other Cabinet-level departments, including the Environmental Protection Agency. We are all for government efficiency, but fewer federal agencies will not amount to massive savings because most of the functions these agencies perform aren't going away. For example, the Department of Education administers the federal student loan program and federal aid to states and towns. Since neither program is likely to be eliminated, someone will have to run them.
It is also possible that the situation isn't as dire as Ms. Novak believes. The columnist Fareed Zakaria argued in The Washington Post recently that this country already has a tax and regulatory structure that creates strong incentives for businesses to flourish. He cites the World Economic Forum's 2011-12 Global Competitiveness Report, which ranks the United States No. 5 — and first among large economies — in competitiveness.
Ms. Novak is not a complete ideologue; she believes that some regulations are necessary. But she reminds us of some of the Tea Party freshmen who will not give an inch to reach the meaningful compromises so often needed to make government work. Mr. Formica, by comparison, is a pragmatist.