How Long Is Himes’ Credit Line?

So who gets credit for delivering a 20,000-vote plurality for Jim Himes in Bridgeport, something that hasn’t been achieved by a Democratic congressional candidate in 40 years? If you halve that number, Himes does not win, the race was that close district wide, and incumbent Chris Shays survives another two years.

For starters, Barack Obama. No Barack, no blowout. Second, Himes, as a candidate and his campaign, did a nice job reminding voters to keep voting the Democratic line. Ballot drop-off among those voting for president and congress was minimal.

For the first time in a long time in a presidential cycle, Democratic voters did not underperform, and some pols will take credit for this. Yes, the actual percentage turnout was not as high as expected, but when you hit your target–a 20k plurality–it doesn’t matter. Shays had never earned less than 30 percent of the vote in a city election. On Tuesday just 20 percent, a product of new and first-time voters unfamiliar with the congressman.

But when you scratch the surface of assigning credit, you see the specter of the party apparatus. One of the reasons Mario Testa was able to reclaim chairmanship of the Democratic party last March was an underperforming electorate. City turnouts, particularly on a local level, had been pathetic. Himes’ overwhelming win happened on Mario’s watch. And yes, Anthony Musto’s win over Republican Rob Russo as well.

Now hold on one minute, wasn’t former chair John Stafstrom smack in the middle of the Himes operation as well? Yup. Stafstrom’s a smart operative who knows the contours of the city, and he’s very much part of the landscape with a base of support within the party. Nothing wrong with helping a guy who could end up in congress. After having a major role in Diane Farrell’s two close races against Shays, Stafstrom was doing his part for Himes.

What about Mayor Bill Finch? Hizzoner was doing a delicate mayoral two-step trying to maintain a relationship with a congressman that has delivered goodies to the city while building a relationship with the potential replacement. Let’s throw Himes a last-minute fundraiser to cover our butt.

In the spring I gave Himes a 90-minute tour of the city, offering a political backdrop of personalities, neighborhoods and voting patterns. We talked about Finch, Mario, Stafstrom and Chris Caruso, and how to maneuver without stepping on minefields. My advice: “duck.” Stay out of the petty fights, don’t pick sides and hope for the best.

It’s not easy for a candidate (and campaign staff) running for major office to figure out the political players in a city critical to the election.

Himes managed to do it without pulling shrapnel out of his ass. It’s his victory and he should savor the moment. The other guys will take credit no matter what. Isn’t that what Barack means about spreading the wealth?



  1. Lennie- I hope the Shays Hey Kid is giving you credit for the tsunami reference.

    How come when the Dems come out and vote in force it’s a tsunami? What is it for the Republicans when the Dems stay home? A Mandate!

    I wonder if Rudy G. knows how to spell community organizer? OBAMA!

    Where was M. Jodi Rell for Shays this campaign? Isn’t she the second most popular governor behind Sarah Palin?

    I see Mayor MoonBeam has formed his Green Initiative for Bridgeport. It’s going to be a 32-person committee administered by the BRBC. The name of the initiative is B-Green 2020. I’ve always thought that hindsight was 20/20. Did Finch’s 42-person transition committee ever issue a report?

    Auden “I’ll accommplish more than Keeley did in 25 years” Grogins is very upset that she only received 80% of the vote. She wants to do a forensic audit to see who voted against her.

    Bob Keeley is slated to start a new career in teaching. His first assignment will be teaching at Longfellow School.

    Nancy Hadley could be first in line for Keeley’s old job at DSSD. Her first campaign will be to provide sausage linkage for Gathering of the Vibrators to downtown district. Too bad St. V’s E.R. wasn’t downtown. Talk about doing it downtown. Phil Kuchma should contact S.H.U. and turn his Bijou Square condo project into a senior co-ed dorm. Claude Balls could be the “Head Proctor”.

    DebraLee Hovey says that she “can see Bridgeport from her front yard”!

    Bill Finch should dump his “Dead” Wood and bring back Rina Bakalar. After Finch’s latest screw-up on layoffs he needs a kidney transplant. With Bakalar he would never go into Rinal failure.

  2. “Spreading the wealth” is a basketball term used to describe a point guard who’s good at distributing the ball and getting assists. It means you’re enabling others on your team to score. It’s a great way to become popular with your teamates. Coaches like players who know how to “spread the wealth”.

    Geopolitics is just a big game of basketball. Our President-elect understands the game and has a sweet jumpshot, too. Here’s the best part: we’ve all got season tickets for the next four years, starting in January, 2009. Prepare for tipoff.

  3. *** Who gets credit for some of these empty Dem. shirts winning so grand in this pass election? “OBAMA” & the voters that voted for him & everyone else on the line as well. Hell, if “Freddie Krueger” from Elm St. were running on the Dem. ticket in this past election, people would have voted for him as well! For example, myself now @ this time after the fact, would have preferred Diane Farrell to have beaten Shays #2yrs. ago instead of this guy Himes. At least she had some brains & probably would have made a good Congresswoman! With Himes, I have my doubts @ this time & hope for Conn.’s sake I’m wrong. Time will tell for some, not all unfortunately due to the vote the party not the individual mentality.

  4. I just want to commend Shays on his many years of service to this district and our country. The results didn’t swing his way this year, but he has had an incredible career, and I think we all should be thankful for the personal sacrifice he made for us. I guess it was time for a change, but we shouldn’t forget what he did.

  5. I would like to thank George W. Bush and his supporters in the Republican Party for seeing to it that right-wing wackos, corrupt oilmen, military-industrial complex a-holes like Cheney and unchristian conservatives are barred from the decision-making process in Washington.

    If Shays were truly a moderate he would have switched parties. He didn’t. Tough.

  6. I celebrated like crazy. I’ve never seen in my history of following politics both candidates getting over 30,000 votes. Well on Tuesday it happened, Obama got over 30K and so did Himes. And when I spoke to people in Bridgeport they did not say they voted Obama they said they voted line B. And when I heard people saying that I knew it would be over for Shays. People did not vote for Obama and leave they voted straight down the line and they did not stop at Himes either they kept voting down the line in Bridgeport. It was much easier to vote down the line on this paper like I told everybody before. I have to admit I did not think Obama would get a 20k plurality because Kerry got 15k. The most I thought he would get is 18k. And I sure did not expect Himes to get a 20k plurality but he did just the opposite Himes got more than a 20k plurality in Bridgeport. More people voted in the congressional race than in ’04 and more people voted for President than in ’04. And ’04 was one of the highest turnouts. Another thing Himes did well was the poll working on election day. They had a big picture of Obama and Himes together at every precinct saying vote row B. And that really helped.

  7. And another thing is all the Shays supporters on this site were not from Bridgeport but from towns like Darien and I’ve been saying that for months and other users have said that too. Because with Himes getting 80% in the city I find it hard for there to be a good amount of Shays supporters on here. Wondering where are you??? Are you mad the people wanted change? Bridgeport led the way for change on Tuesday and I still can’t believe Obama and Himes got over 30k in the city especially Himes. Lennie do you have the votes by precinct???

  8. Shays has another thing in common with Bpt residents. He lives here and pays taxes. But he also lost his job due to the economy! Taxpayers gave him a pink slip …

    Fmr Congressman, in case you don’t know the unemployment office is on the intersection of Fairfield Ave and Lafayette Blvd … Good luck!

  9. One thing is clear, credit for the Himes Victory DOES NOT go to Mario Testa or District Leaders, EXCEPT for Danny Roach, the ONLY one to truly step up and get Jimmy known in his district … And Dotty Guman did help some, but nobody else did shit … Dr. Ford & his cronies, stepped in to get jobs as always, nothing new …

    Finch and Stafstrom did their part …

    Also, Ruben from the Mayor’s office, Art Perry, Rep Ayala & Co., the Martinez kid on the council, can be credited for their work on GOTV, everyone else in that campaign was not from CT or involved in Bpt political circles …

  10. donj,
    I am a Bridgeport native and very much wanted Shays to win re-election. He did an awful lot for Bridgeport as evidenced by past and current mayors tip-toeing very lightly and diplomatically during these races when it came to supporting his opponent.

    You’ll notice in yesterday’s Himes interview he stated repeatedly during the race voters raved about Shays and constituent services.

    Were it not for the huge Obama race, I believe Chris like Russo would have kept their seats.

    But that’s politics. My guys didn’t win and I thank them for their contributions. Hope the new guys knock it out of the park.

    To Scott N and others, seems a little classless to continue the acrimony. McCain, Shays and Russo did not come across like sore losers. In fact, they were just the opposite. You might consider how to be magnanimous in victory.

  11. Exactly my point, native!!! Almost every person in the region when they have kids are born in the Bridgeport hospitals we have and we get so underfunded by the ex-congressmen Shays!!! That’s why Bpt picked Himes, people did not have to vote the line but they did!!! As for McCain, Shays and Russo, McCain ran a disgraceful campaign against Obama. Shays is totally just like Bush. Russo is a good guy I think he really cares about the city but he was too in line with the Eepublican brand and when he campaigned with Rell who does not care about any big city in CT. That did it for me and I voted for Musto. I have no problems with Russo but he was too close to Republicans. And do you think it helped when people saw McCain Shays Russo signs? It sure did not help him. I was surprised at how bad Russo ran in Bridgeport.

  12. donj, I am here. I congratulate all of the winners. Barack Obama is our President and Commander-in-Chief. I wish him well. If he does well we all do well.
    John from BR congratulations to you as I know you and your wife worked extremely hard and even traveled outside the state to work for Obama. You are the one person I know who actually worked for your beliefs. Again job well done.
    Chris Shays did a good job but the people thought it was time for a change. We will see in two years how Mr. Himes does on his own and will not have the Obama landslide to ride into office. It is my hope he does well for Bridgeport.
    It was the people who won this election, not all of the politicians mentioned above. The people were on a mission and did not need to be prodded to go out and vote.
    I hope the people who voted keep coming out to vote and get more involved in politics. In that way maybe just maybe we can have a better city. Time will tell.

  13. Wondering,
    For the first time I have to say I agree with you and I agree 100% I hope every candidate does well Obama and Himes. Also not to get above anything because it’s been less then 48 hours since this historic night happened. But like I said I did not vote for Russo but I do think if he would be more independent then he could have a bright future he is one of the Republicans I can say I like him but not on the level that I would vote for him because he was too much of a Republican. He should have run away from Shays and run more independent. Good luck to Russo and I hope he does run for office somewhere again in Bridgeport. But as for Shays and Bush I am happy to see when Bush packs his bags Shays will be doing the same. Musto is my state sen and I wish him the best, I voted for him.

  14. Classless? Perhaps. Acrimonious? Um … when I look at my 401k I can’t help but be just a little, little pissed about Republican leadership. Kind of like when I was paying 5 dollars a gallon for gas.

    Denis … you can agree or disagree with me. Regardless Republicans need to be reminded on a daily basis how astray their party has gone … especially after the largest expansion of federal government ever under Bush (trashing the Geneva convention, undermining Roe v. Wade, no body armor in Iraq, reconstruction thievery via Cheney, etc. etc. etc.)

    I will always remind any stubborn Republican of how incredibly wrong their party has become and how incredibly mediocre and destructive Bush was.

  15. A huge Himes thank you must go out to Carmen Colon and the whole Ayala staff for their tireless efforts on his behalf … no one can run a door-to-door campaign better!!!

  16. Scott N,
    Unfortunately I have to agree with you about Bush … Huge disappointment.

    However I find myself extremely dissatisfied at most of the entrenched national leadership on both sides of the aisle but particularly our New England contingent. If you find yourself acrimonious regarding your 401K, then make that known when Sen. Dodd comes back begging for votes in Bridgeport.

  17. Scott N – I’ve been saying the same thing right along. My savings have really been hit hard with Bush and his rich fatcat friends in office. At least gas prices have come down, but look at the stock market, it’s really scary. The republicans have really hurt the working class and the economy. Obama will have his hands full fixing things with the mess they left behind. I really feel sorry for people who wanted to retire next year and now can’t afford to.

  18. Does anybody read newspapers, business magazine articles, or watch legitimate broadcast news (not the nutjob cable stuff) regarding the energy crisis or the financial meltdown?

    You would never know it by many of the comments on this blog.

  19. Even though there was a big turnout in Bridgeport I feel the registrars of voters are to blame; many people left because lines were just too long especially from 6 to 11 am and many voters could not come for many different reasons. But how the hell can you only have one checker at the polls checking in people? I really feel like taking some action about this and people have already filed a lawsuit I heard because of this. It was very unprepared and the secretary of the state should be blamed too. During the primary there were more people working the polls. I was the 68th voter at Central and it took me a hour now that is crazy!!! It should not take a hour for 63 people to vote!!! When there are 300 people waiting in line from 6am. half of them left. Also why is it that the same way you exit the polling place is the same way you enter it and that caused a jam too. Shame on the Registrars of voters and secretary of the state. There could have been more than 41,000 voters in Bridgeport. People came and left because it took 1 hour to get 63 people to vote.

  20. In addition to donj’s suggestion, Tuesday reaffirmed for me something I support and that is making Election Day a holiday. Hundreds were at the polls when they opened, but many had to leave to get to work. They said they would return at night, but it didn’t seem to me the evening rush was that strong. Get rid of President’s Day, and make Election Day a holiday. Our democracy runs on elections and the ability to vote.

  21. Wondering – My wife and I would like to thank you for your kind words. Many others worked a lot harder than we did. But we did do what we could and yes, we are very pleased with the results. Hopefully, Obama will succeed and get our country back on track.

    I would also like to say that I thought John McCain was extremely gracious in his concession speech. Of all the Republicans running for president, he is the one I had the most respect for and Tuesday night I was reminded why that was so.

    I would also like to thank Chris Shays for his years of service. While I did not share his views on the war and the economy, I agreed with him on many other issues. He was a dedicated public servent and he served his district and his country well. He is also my neighbor and hopefully I will have the opportunity to thank him personally.

    I hope both McCain and Shays stay active in the Republican party, they both represent the best of the GOP and right now their party needs them. Thanks again Wondering and thanks for giving Obama your good wishes and an even break.

  22. MCAT on yesterdays post # 116 wrote:

    Hey Joel, why don’t you try to join the Republican Party in Monroe! Those intelligent people wouldn’t let you in the door. Laughing so hard I am crying. This is officially the last time ever I will acknowledge the likes of a man who cuts his own finger off and expects anyone to take him seriously. Joel is a caricature of the archetype of “What’s the Matter with Kansas.” Night all. Seriously this is the best laugh I have had all day.

    Joel Gonzalez responds:
    MCAT on #116:

    I hope that you never get to meet one of “those people” that Hovey apparently was referring to. I mean the predator kind that looks for brave, powerfull, important–yet soft, ignorant and trusting as you are. If you ever meet one of “those people” with a gun in his hands pointing it to your head as he takes your diamond ring and money and orders you to the ground to find out the real woman in you. If ever your luck isn’t as good as you expect and find yourself in this predicament, think of Joel Gonzalez, who cut off his finger to actually show what he would do to “those people” who use guns in the act of a crime against innocent unarmed people. If ever you meet one of “those people” and when he/she is almost done and decides to splatter your brains on that ground, how many fingers would you have lost? If ever you find
    yourself with one of “those people” and your life is cut short, will your family and friends be laughing? Are you still laughing now? You got one thing right, I am a man.

  23. MCAT on #19:

    MCAT wrote:
    “The elected officials who continue to promote their own agenda instead of trying to do the right thing for the town do so at the town’s peril.”

    That’s not a nice thing to say about your former employer, backers and colleagues.

    MCAT continues:
    “What I find so ironic and illuminating is my fellow church members who have known me for 10 years, knew of my involvement in church activities charity, my involvement in the community, were mudslingers in chief. My so-called fellow “Christians” didn’t give a passing thought to all-out personal attacks, as are typical with the radical right wing.”

    A real “Christian” would turn the other cheek and forgive their brothers and sisters in Christ. If you congregated in the same church for 10 years with a bunch of “typical radical right wingers,” doesn’t that make you the same?

    MCAT self reflects:
    “Do we really want people who don’t understand the crime of extortion to govern our community and run campaigns for a State office?”

    You should be asking yourself and members of your party this question. The Republican answer is, NO!

  24. *** As a Dem. that voted for Shays, I think he may take some time off but he’s not done with politics yet. There’s always Senator Dodd’s seat since he’s become a seat-warmer as of late. And of course the city of Bpt. would probably do much better hopefully with someone like Shays as Mayor! Many political seats may change depending on how the economy does or doesn’t. ***

  25. I would not be surprised to see a guy like Chris Shays get a job working with the Peace Corps or closely with Obama on this program. Remember, he deeply loves the Peace Corps and as a moderate would fit in with Obama’s rhetoric.


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