WESTPORT — TJ Elgin remembers his first foray into politics, and even then he wasn’t opposed to defending his stance.

“It started back in high school,” the 30-year-old Westporter recently recalled. “In 2008 I did a high school research paper on why at the time I thought Hillary Clinton should not be involved in government or politics.”

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Despite his teacher being a Clinton advocate, Elgin said he was able to secure an A on the paper, as well as her respect. Now, he looks to take his ability to talk across the aisle to the national level.

Elgin, co-owner of Full Moon Brewing, has filed to run for the U.S. House of Representatives to represent Connecticut’s 4th Congressional District, a seat currently held by Democrat Jim Himes. He declared his candidacy in December for the Republican primary on Aug. 11, 2020.

“I’ve been seeing how things have been going,” he said of his choice to run. “I think too many people have been looking at short-term, quick results when we need to be focusing on the longevity of Connecticut and the district.”

Elgin looks to campaign on stabilizing Connecticut, pointing to overpopulation in certain areas, the state’s economy, and out-migration of residents.

“My goal is to correct things and put us back on track,” he said.

Though he recognizes the lack of name recognition compared to Himes, Elgin said his perspective provides a unique advantage.

“I’m not a career politician,” he said. “I don’t plan on staying in the seat longer than I need to make changes.”

Though Elgin does not have experience as a state or national congressman, he’s no stranger to campaigning, having run for the Westport Representative Town Meeting in 2019 and first selectman in 2017.

To raise support for his campaign, Elgin plans to attend town hall meetings, and speak to constituents to identify key concerns of the public.

“I’m trying to get things jumpstarted so people can really focus on what’s needed to make things work in our communities,” he said.

Republican primary Connecticut Republican Party Chairman JR Romano, said a candidate will need to show a broad base of support to win next year’s primary and later an election against Himes.

“Raising money is a good indication of that,” he said. “Obviously to take on Jim Himes you have be able to appeal to Republicans, Democrats and unaffiliated voters.”

In May, there will be a convention for every town committee in the four congressional districts to come together and pick candidates. Any that receives 15% or higher will be eligible for the primary. Candidates can also petition onto the Republican primary ballot through signatures.

“I think any candidate who can step forward and demonstrate an ability to grow a broad base of support has the potential to win,” Romano said, adding all of the candidates should look to build momentum for the May convention.

“You have to get out there and you have to talk to people,” he added. “You have to explain why it’s time for a different voice.”

Although Elgin has not been endorsed by the Republican Party, he said he’s hoping to receive their nomination, noting he’s willing to work with anyone.

“I’m not one way or another. I’m open to conversation with absolutely anybody,” Elgin said. “Everything is open dialogue and I’d like that to be transparent for everyone.”

dj.simmons@hearstmediact.com