Voters in Connecticut’s 5th Congressional District are fortunate to have Democrat Elizabeth Esty in the House. Ms. Esty, 57, of Cheshire, is a workhorse who will cross the aisle to reach common ground with Republicans. We endorse her for another term over her challenger, Republican Clay Cope, 54, of Sherman.
Why Ms. Esty?
Ms. Esty has managed to move some legislation helpful to Connecticut through a Congress known for gridlock. The Cheshire Democrat even found agreement with Republicans from Wisconsin and New York on a measure that will let Connecticut dairy trucks travel with a full load of milk. (Yes, it took an act of Congress to do this.)
She sponsored the Promoting Women in Entrepreneurship Act, which supports women in the science, technology, engineering and math education fields. It passed the House and is awaiting a floor vote in the Senate. She was one of the originators of the STEM Education Act of 2015, signed into law last year, which provides grants for those fields.
On the environment, she has a solid record. She authored legislation allowing Canton to operate hydropower dams, and she supports renewable energy sources and funding for cleaning polluted properties. She is fighting to get the lower Farmington River and Salmon Brook designated as “wild and scenic,” making them eligible for federal protection.
Ms. Esty first was sworn into Congress a month after 20 children and six women were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in her district. She’s become a leading advocate for gun control legislation as vice chairman of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force — although Republican leaders have dragged their feet on bills. She is pushing for common-sense legislation such as background checks for all gun purchases.
Why Not Mr. Cope?
Mr. Cope, the first selectman of Sherman on the New York border, is not a typical Republican candidate. He’s an openly gay man in a committed relationship. Yet he supports Donald Trump despite the GOP presidential nominee’s opposition to same-sex marriage.
Mr. Cope is deeply concerned about national security and would “secure the border and stop the flow of illegal immigrants,” even though terrorism on U.S. soil tends to be committed by U.S. citizens.
He has not made the environment a priority in his campaign, though it’s a concern in his town as Sherman battles a watermilfoil infestation in Candlewood Lake. The “issues” section of his campaign website does not contain the word.
The Courant especially parts ways with Mr. Cope on gun safety, given the 5th District’s 2012 tragedy in Newtown. He supports what he calls a “literal interpretation of the Second Amendment.” A native Texan, Mr. Cope said he “will not infringe on the right and responsibility of Americans to protect themselves as they see fit.” Americans wouldn’t have to protect themselves if it weren’t so easy for the angry, aggrieved and deranged to get their hands on weapons and ammunition.
Mr. Cope has been a good steward of Sherman, managing its municipal budget well and rebuilding the town’s rainy day fund. He helped lead the library expansion in town. He deserves commendation for taking on a congressional incumbent with a fairly safe seat and a considerable war chest.
But Ms. Esty’s labors on her constituents’ behalf have earned her another term.
Ms. Esty is also on the Working Families Party line on the ballot, and Mr. Cope is on the Independent Party line as well.