Born and raised in Communist Albania, local lawyer Peter Lumaj has launched a long-shot campaign for next year's Republican nomination to run for the seat being vacated by retiring U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman.

"Unapologetically American. Absolutely Conservative." is the slogan for Lumaj's first campaign for elected office.

Lumaj, a Mill Plain Road resident, formally announced his intentions to seek the GOP nod Wednesday afternoon.

Asked by the Fairfield Citizen if he is a registered voter, Lumaj's staff said he had registered to vote Nov. 8, Election Day. However, a check by the Town Clerk's office Wednesday afternoon indicated that the only Lumaj listed as a registered voter in Fairfield is his wife, Ermelinda.

"I think I have a better understanding of the issues," Lumaj said at his Post Road headquarters, comparing himself to another GOP contender for the seat, Linda McMahon, the former wrestling executive who spent $50 million in an unsuccessful campaign for a Senate seat last year. Former U.S. Rep. Christopher Shays is also planning to seek the Republicans' 2012 Senate nomination.

Lumaj said that despite McMahon's record spending in 2010 for the Senate seat and expectations that her campaign next year will also be generously funded, her defeat shows that "the voters are not looking for someone who has money to spend."

The two most important issues to the voters, Lumaj said, are job creation and the economy. His campaign platform calls for the adoption of a flat tax or consumption tax system that not only eliminates federal payroll taxes and the capital gains tax, but also gets rid of the IRS.

Lumaj also wants the federal Department of Education downsized or eliminated, and President Obama's health-care plan repealed. He proposes rolling back what he calls the EPA's "job-killing, anti-energy production agenda" and developing "vast natural gas and oil reserves now" through breakthroughs in drilling and extraction technologies.

As for immigration policies, Lumaj, who immigrated to the U.S. with three of his brothers, believes the U.S. needs stronger border controls and tough penalties for employers who hire illegal immigrants. He also wants English to be made the official language and for immigrants to be encouraged to assimilate into the American culture. In addition, Lumaj advocates giving states the authority to enforce federal immigration laws.

"Liberal policies implemented in Washington have caused hard-working taxpayer to lose their jobs, homes, businesses, investments and even their hope for the future," Lumaj said.

"To reverse this trend of downturn, conservative principles must be re-established."