Sometimes it pays off to get booted from public office.
One year ago, after a 20-year run in Congress, Bridgeport resident Chris Shays was victimized by the Barack tsunami that catapulted Jim Himes into Connecticut’s 4th Congressional District, the first Dem to win the seat in 40 years. Himes was a good candidate, well financed and his campaign did an outstanding job reminding voters to fill in all the ovals on the Democratic line, not just Barack’s.
It was just enough for Himes to squeeze past Shays.
Bridgeport is Chris Shays’ political lament. The Republican moved to Black Rock from Stamford 10 years ago purchasing a waterfront gem from retiring People’s Bank Chief Executive David Carson who had purchased it from John and Betty Pfriem, the genial owners of the Connecticut Post-Telegram, predecessor of the Connecticut Post.
Shays was never embraced by the city electorate capped by an excruciatingly low 20 percent of the vote against Himes. If Shays wins 30 percent of the vote in the city – his previous low performance — he squeaks a win. So it goes.
While serving in Congress Shays was not a man of wealth. His net worth was dwarfed by everyone else. The tax bill on his home was roughly $24,000. It was time for Shays to reinvent himself. He landed a position as co-hair of the Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan. Soon came offers to sit on various non-profit and company boards. And then he put his house for sale and the number listed raised lots of brows. No way he could move it at that number.
Well, the other day the house at 37 Beacon Street closed at a sale price of some $1.5 million, roughly one million more than the price he and his wife Betsi paid for it.
Shays wrote me the other day: “We will miss our home in Bridgeport and all our terrific neighbors. Representing the people of the 4th Congressional District was an opportunity of a lifetime. I am sorry it is over but I am excited about our new opportunities. If you want it to be life can be a magnificent adventure and we want it to be.”
Shays’ political investment in Bridgeport did not pay off, but his real estate investment is quite another story.
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