When it comes to the vote in Bridgeport, Congressman Jim Himes and State Senator Anthony Musto sail the same boat. Will it spring a turnout leak?
Connecticut’s 4th Congressional District has 17 communities. Himes won three cities two years ago, Stamford, Norwalk and Bridgeport led by a 50-year electoral storm. Republican Chris Shays took all the suburban towns. Himes managed to stay close in several GOP strongholds in an atmosphere of anger against Republicans. It appears the anger has shifted. Once again how close can Himes stay in the suburbs? Sometimes a win is a matter of staying close.
Musto has the same issue as Himes. Musto represents a senate district that includes all of Trumbull, half of Monroe and the higher-voting sections of Bridgeport that run from the Upper East Side, across the North End, the West Side and Black Rock. How close can Musto stay to his Republican challenger David Pia in Trumbull where Pia serves on the town council? Trumbull is Musto’s home town. Two years ago Rob Russo won Trumbull and Monroe handily but got croaked in Bridgeport as thousands of new voters came out, inspired by Barack, to vote the straight Democratic line.
Musto is a nice guy, but not an aggressive campaigner, and after two years he’s still learning the nuances of the multi-town district. He received a quick and painful lesson one year ago when he assumed Governor Jodi Rell’s proposal to shoehorn a juvenile detention center for girls on the Upper East Side would be good for his constituents. When he saw voters there freaking out he did an about-face.
So far Musto and Pia are running understated campaigns. No mudslinging, no contrast, no charges or countercharges (boring!) The Bridgeport piece of the senate district has thousands of choosy unaffiliated voters and some Reagan Democrats and it is there that Pia and Himes’ Republican opponent Dan Debicella can tap into the voter anger, whether Washington or Hartford. Voters in Black Rock, Central, Winthrop, Blackham and Hooker precincts have been described to me as “surly” by pols going door to door. Surly is not good for incumbents.
Polling in both the Himes-Debicella battle and Musto-Pia show tight races.