Smart Growth for Vernon, CT
Vernon mayor to pursue Lieberman’s Senate post rather than seek re-election

By Suzanne Carlson
Journal Inquirer
Published: Saturday, July 23, 2011 11:16 AM EDT

VERNON — Mayor Jason L. McCoy announced Friday that he will not seek a third consecutive term in office and instead will pursue the Republican nomination to succeed U.S. Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman.

“I have decided to spend more time with my family, to focus on my career as a lawyer, and to explore a run for the United States Senate,” McCoy said at a press conference at Town Hall.

“It is now time that I move onto the next level. I have done all I can do here,” he added, citing his accomplishments in lowering taxes, reducing the cost of government, cutting spending, and promoting economic growth.

McCoy arrived late to the conference and did not emerge from his office until 30 minutes after the scheduled announcement time. After making a brief statement, he returned to his office and did not take questions.

He was joined by Republican State Chairman Gerald Labriola Jr. who shed light on the delay, explaining that McCoy had been briefing him.

“I will say I was a bit surprised — I thought I was coming to an announcement for re-election but you have to be prepared for anything in this business,” Labriola said.

“We are very excited. He will make a superb candidate,” he added. “We feel we can come out of the gate in 2012 as a united party and we will compete for that seat. It will be a targeted effort and an all-out effort.”

McCoy’s plans for this November had been unclear until Friday. Democrats have already endorsed Town Council member Pauline Schaefer for mayor and Gordon Paterson, a registered Republican who describes himself as “an independent candidate,” has said he will run as a petitioning candidate.

Vernon Republican Town Chairman and Town Attorney Harold Cummings said Friday that Paterson would not be put on the slate by the party’s nominating committee at Tuesday’s caucus, but he was welcome to challenge the committee’s pick and let Republican voters decide.

“We’ll be putting forth a very competent and capable replacement, he can carry on and see through what Jason has already started,” Cummings said.

He would not name the party’s pick for mayor, but said he expected an announcement before the caucus.

As for McCoy, Cummings said he had been meeting with the mayor intermittently, urging him to slow down and focus on his family and private law practice.

“This has been a struggle that Jason’s been dealing with for several weeks,” Cummings said. “You can’t put in the hours that Jason is putting in to being mayor and still run your law firm… I know how difficult it was for Jason to make this decision, but I think he’s made the right one.”

Cummings said McCoy has long held ambitions for higher political office and has nothing left to prove in Vernon. After four years of bitter partisan sparring, now is the time to “step back, recharge, and come back when things are under control,” he said.

“He’s a young guy with a great future and potential. He’s gone a long way, I think he’s a very credible candidate,” Cummings said. “In the long run I think it was a smart move because I think it leaves him in a better position for the future.”

McCoy, 40, was first elected to the Town Council in 1998 after losing a bid for state representative of the 56th House District to Thomasina Clemons. He ran for the district seat again in 2000 and 2002 but lost to Rep. Claire Janowski D-Vernon.

He was serving as deputy mayor under Democrat Ellen Marmer when he defeated her to win election to mayor in 2007. In 2009 he beat Democrat Michele Arn and was sworn into his second term in office by former Gov. M. Jodi Rell.

McCoy lives with his wife, Angela, and three children and has a second home in the Niantic section of East Lyme. His law firm is located on Talcottville Road.

Labriola said the party is considering several other potential candidates to run for the seat that will be left vacant by Lieberman, who announced in January that he would not seek re-election to the Senate.

U.S. Rep. Christopher S. Murphy, D-5th District, is the frontrunner in the Democratic contest to succeed Lieberman, followed by his two challengers, former Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz of Middletown and Rep. William Tong of Stamford.

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