Nancy Johnson is a Republican who has always represented Democratic areas, an Equal Rights Amendment supporter who was opposed by the National Organization for Women, a successful politician who entered politics only as a second career.
She survived a difficult election to become the representative from Connecticut's 6th Congressional District, the seat that Democrat Toby Moffett gave up to make his unsuccessful run against Republican Sen. Lowell P. Weicker Jr. Johnson won 52 percent of the vote against Bill Curry, a liberal 30-year-old Democrat in Moffett's mold, by portraying herself as a moderate Republican with an independent mind and a Democratic heart.
Johnson, 46, was elected to the Connecticut state senate six years ago after rearing three children with her husband, a doctor in New Britain. Her district was overwhelmingly Democratic, but Johnson was reelected twice with increasing margins thanks to painstaking constituent service and support for some social programs that were popular in the heavily ethnic city.
The district she will represent now winds around Hartford to cover a large area of northwest Connecticut, ranging from depressed industrial cities like New Britain, Bristol and Torrington to country club suburbs west of Hartford and pockets of rural wealth and poverty along the Massachusetts and New York line. The district is so large that Moffett's predecessor, the popular Ella Grasso, installed the "Ellaphone" to allow constituents to call toll-free.
Johnson appealed to her blue-collar voters by promising to support auto legislation that would force more domestic production. Her opponent tried to peg her as a Reagan loyalist -- she was cochair of Reagan's primary campaign in 1980 -- but she said she would not blindly follow the president.