U.S. Congressman Chris Shays this week sent some pretty mixed messages about whether he might jump into the already crowded race for Governor.
In a phone interview Monday night Shays, who relocated to a waterfront “dream home” in Maryland following his 2008 loss to Democrat Jim Himes, told me some of his friends have been urging him to run and he is thinking about it.
But Shays said: “The answer may be it’s just not practical … It’s more likely in a few weeks I’ll have thought it through and said ‘you know what? I’m not sure this makes sense’.”
And later in the conversation, after I’d asked if he was interested in a re-match with Himes, Shays said: “I haven’t totally ruled that out, either, but I think it’s unlikely I would run for Governor. I think it’s unlikely I would run for Congress.”
Perhaps it was the fact he was surrounded by old friends and political insiders at last night’s roast in his honor in Greenwich that had Shays sounding a bit more optimistic about moving back to Connecticut and re-entering state politics.
What does it say about the quality of candidates – particulary the quality of GOP candidates – when folks are trying to convince a veteran politician who lost and left the state to move back and run?
Will the cost of Shays’ new Connecticut home be chalked up as a campaign expense?
UPDATE: The Connecticut Constitution states that to qualify to run for Governor you have to be a registered voter over the age of 30.
As for the issue of residency, Av Harris, spokesman for Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz, said: “There’s no durational residency. It’s not a certain period of time. He needs to either buy a house or rent an apartment somewhere in Connecticut and he can establish residency and register to vote here.”
Shays has said renting is possible. So I have to wonder what voters would think of a gubernatorial candidate who rents a home in Connecticut to run for office while maintaining his “dream home” in Maryland?
I shot an e-mail to GOP Chairman Chris Healy asking if he has any concerns Shays’ potential candidacy might cause a public relations problem.
“Are you concerned about the appearance of his considering buying/renting property here and running?” I asked.
Healy responded: “Chris Shays will ultimately decide whether he wishes to run and certainly has the credibility and record to be a candidate for any office.”
UPDATE 2: Another interesting development courtesy of fellow Hearst reporter Ken Dixon. Shays is still registered to vote in Bridgeport
But a spokesman for the Registrar of Voters for Talbot County, Maryland in which Shays’ new home of St. Michael’s is located just told me he registered to vote there on Oct. 19, 2009.
But the confusion is not Shays’ fault. The spokesman said it is her office’s responsibility to notify Bridgeport that Shays is now registered to vote in St. Michael’s
“There should be a report that should have been sent to them and either someone overlooked it or it got lost in the mail. I don’t know,” she said.