Almost a year now since Jim Himes lanced 20-year Republican incumbent Congressman Chris Shays.
Before Shays occupied Connecticut’s Fourth Congressional District, Stewart McKinney had it. Lowell Weicker before him. All Republicans. In fact Himes gutted the last surviving New England Republican in the House of Representatives. Republicans thought they had a decent shot of regaining the seat with State Senator John McKinney (son of Stewart) but John let the air out of their balloon when he announced he was working through some family issues. His kids come first.
Whew! said Himes supporters.
Himes was the beneficiary of a Democratic blowout in Bridgeport led by Barack. Last year it was about the war and the economy. Now it’s about health care and the economy. I chatted with Himes the other day and he talked about the never-ending campaigning of the congressional two-year term. Elected today, form a campaign committee tomorrow, raise lots of dough to position for reelection. Himes will have not just dough but tons of it, and Vice President Joe Biden helped pad his bank account with a visit on Monday.
Himes will be hard to beat, but he’s not acting like so many pols do when they get elected for the first time: look in the mirror and love what they see. Republicans had occupied his seat for 40 years. They want it back. He seems to understand how fragile a first term can be.
The leading Republicans to challenge Himes are State Senator Dan Debicella of Shelton and former State Senator Rob Russo of Bridgeport. Both are pounding phones raising money. The one that excels here and woos party regulars will get the party nod. It’s always possible that a fatted Republican shows up and says here’s my $3 million, I want to play. That changes the game.
Meanwhile Himes visits the 17 cities and towns in the district, does the constituent work, makes friends, tries to deliver stimulus money, and raises lots and lots of moolah.
He’s hoping in 2010, as my friend Tommy Kelly says, Let The Good Himes Roll. Stay tuned.
(Check me out at www.onlyinbridgeport.com)