A case of excessive gas?

Seeking to capitalize on pain at the pump, Linda McMahon’s campaign has unearthed potentially damaging video footage of Republican Senate foe Christopher Shays from 2008 in which the then-congressman advocated raising the federal gas tax to pay for infrastructure renewal projects.

In what would turn out to be his final defense of his seat of 21 years in the House, Shays made the comments at a transportation summit in New Haven, which was outside his home Fairfield County-centric district.

The event was sponsored by CT Moving/Citizens for Better Transportation and covered by the New Haven Independent, which recorded video footage of Shays’ remarks that have been lifted by McMahon’s opposition research staff.

“If we have a debate on the federal level and if one of the candidates has the courage to say we need to rebuild America and then they’re going to say, ‘Oh, but how are you going to pay for it?’ It’s a simple solution. we’re going to pay for it by increasing the revenues that we raise from the gasoline tax. And in the short run that will be not appreciated. But it is straight talk. There’s no other solution. I can tell you, the bad news is we’re ignoring the problem. The good news is we can’t keep ignoring the problem.”

The average gas price in Connecticut is now up to $4.13 per gallon.


Amanda Bergen, a spokeswoman for Shays, characterized the line of attack by McMahon as sign of desperation from a flawed candidate.

“To blame Christopher Shays for high gas prices is ridiculous,” Bergen said. “I mean, come on.” 

 “All these daily attacks are about one thing: Linda McMahon being 15 points behind in the general election and Chris Shays being in a dead heat. She’s willing to try and do anything, That’s her MO.” 

Shays’ campaign did not dispute the nature of his comments.

“In that video, Chris was talking about our disastrous infrastructure in Connecticut,” Bergen said. “Nobody can deny that we have practically Third World infrastructure in Connecticut. He was saying we have to find a way to fix it. That’s not the reason we have high gas prices.” 

Here is the video footage:

Neil Vigdor