City restaurateur and Yale graduate H. Richter Elser ’81 is seeking the Republican nomination to challenge U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro for a seat in Congress.

Elser, 43, of New Haven, has never held elected office, but he said that he believes the newly drawn congressional districts offer a rare opportunity for a Republican to win the 3rd district, a longtime Democratic stronghold.

“I’m really excited about the new district,” he said. “There are a significant number of people in the district who will be voting for someone new.”

The new district lost some conservative-leaning towns, including Madison and Clinton, to the 2nd district, and picked up Democratic Middletown, but it also gained some conservative-leaning towns in the Naugatuck Valley from the 5th district.

Elser said he would try to appeal to voters by stressing his support for personal responsibility and entrepreneurship. He also said he would make transportation and aid for small businesses issues in his campaign.

Elser holds a bachelor’s degree in history from the University. He owns the Tibwin Grill and sold Richter’s, a downtown bar popular with the college crowd, last year.

DeLauro, who rose through the congressional leadership ranks to become assistant minority leader, was first elected to Congress in 1990.

In her last three elections, she has beaten Republican challengers with more than 70 percent of the vote. She has not yet announced plans to run for reelection in November.

–Associated Press