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Shaban Opens HQ In The Port: I’m A Team Guy … Not About Democrats Or Republicans

September 9th, 2016 · 17 Comments · Analysis and Comment, City Politics, National Politics, News and Events, State Politics

Republican candidate for Congress John Shaban on Thursday did something very few GOP regional candidates for office have even thought about: he opened his campaign headquarters in Bridgeport in an effort to broaden his reach against four-term Democratic incumbent Jim Himes in Connecticut’s 4th District.

Shaban, football

Can Shaban push campaign into end zone?

“Bridgeport is a prime example of the central thesis of my campaign,” Shaban told party officials and supporters at his opening on Fairfield Avenue in Black Rock, the last bastion of neighborhood Republicanism in Connecticut’s most populous city. “We have the resources (to turn around the city and region) but not the management … We can’t fund the things we need to fund because of poor management … I’m a team guy,” the former semi-pro football player added, “This isn’t Democrats versus Republicans.”

Challengers must always make the case to persuade voters to fire the incumbent. The only direct remark Shaban made about his opponent Himes was “He’s a nice guy but a do-nothing guy.”

Ebong, Shaban

Shaban at headquarters opening being interviewed by public radio.

Shaban has not been bashful about reaching out to Democrats in his race. He is friends with Mayor Joe Ganim through their children’s athletic activities. Ganim did not attend the headquarters opening, but he has joined Shaban for events in the city. Shaban even invited his State House comrade Charlie Stallworth and Democratic Town Chair Mario Testa to the opening. They did not attend. Shaban represents suburban communities, Easton, Redding and Weston in the state legislature.

Historically the district is decided by the dominant bloc of unaffiliated voters. The district runs from Bridgeport to Greenwich taking in the state’s gold coast and runs north into suburban communities. It also includes cities Norwalk and Stamford.

Earlier this week Shaban utilized the city’s dormant Congress Street Bridge as an example of Himes’ federal inaction. Eight years ago Himes used it against Republican incumbent Chris Shays who crashed his challenger’s press opportunity. In doing so Shays elevated the issue and Himes’ stature as a challenger. But eight years later, although Himes landed dough to remove the outdated bridge, there’s still no bridge replacement connecting Downtown with the East Side.

In his nearly eight years representing the district, Himes has successfully lobbied millions in federal dollars for the Steel Point redevelopment area that includes Bass Pro Shops as the anchor tenant as well as funds for a second train station for the city that was proposed by then Mayor Bill Finch. The station is a long way off, if it becomes a reality.

Himes’ spokesman Rowan Kane says the incumbent has also delivered “funds for more cops and firefighters, and flood resiliency money for the South End. People who have been around both before and after Jim took office can see the overwhelmingly positive difference he’s made to the city.”

As a Republican representing the district for 20 years, Shays never performed below 30 percent in Bridgeport until 2008 when he was swept up in the Barack Obama electoral storm. Republican operatives believe if they can elevate Shaban to a 30 percent threshold in Bridgeport, the district is back in play. Money is a factor. Himes is well financed while Shaban is challenged to stay competitive. Donald Trump leading the GOP presidential ticket has some traditional Republican donors placing a lock on their wallets.

Shaban, Herbst

Shaban addresses media flanked from right to left Trumbull First Selectman Tim Herbst, GOP State Chair J.R. Romano and Vice Chair Annalisa Stravato.

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17 Comments so far ↓

  • Donald Day

    This is BS. “Himes’ spokesman Rowan Kane says the incumbent has also delivered “funds for more cops and firefighters.” The fact is Bridgeport was getting federal money through SAFER Grants for the hiring of firefighters long before Himes ever thought about running for Congress. Long before!

  • Jimfox

    Maybe Mr. Shaban can find the money for our Congress St. bridge?

  • Ron Mackey

    What is Shaban’s position on Donald Trump? That answer might get him some votes he never thought he could ever get.

  • Jeff Kohut

    Just got back from a UI rate hike hearing at City Hall. No federal, state, or city representation from Bridgeport. The only state legislator to attend was Rep. Tony Hwang from Fairfield. He made some excellent points on behalf of consumers and his constituents.

    But it is really disappointing there was no representation from Bridgeport’s state delegation present to make an on-the-record statement about this proposed 38% rate increase. Gee. I wonder why this city is so screwed, with our great City Council, and GA and Congressional delegations doing their due diligence and going out on the limb for us. (NOT!!! CHANGE IN NOVEMBER!!!)

  • Mary Filo

    Jeff, not sure if you arrived late? There were State Reps from Stratford, Trumbull, Ansonia/Derby and also Brenda Kupchick from FFLD. They all spoke on behalf of their constituents. I was thoroughly ashamed, embarrassed and beyond disappointed that not a single Bridgeport State Rep was even there. I tried to speak myself and did the best I could in a scramble to let PURA know Bridgeporters were concerned too. I literally almost cried that we had zero support. I haven’t cried since Wayne Cherbet was forced into retirement while playing for the Jets. I’m so tired of our Reps saying we should support them because they have great relationships with other Reps., and that is what is needed to get the job done. It seems none of them are in any loop. Every town around us had support. The hearing being in Bridgeport really added to the shame!

  • Jeff Kohut

    Mary: Thanks for the info. I did arrive late. Did I miss any council/GA people from Bridgeport?

  • Jeff Kohut

    Don’t get sad, Mary. Get mad! Let’s hold our representation responsible for what they do, and don’t do.

  • Mary Filo

    Jeff, to answer your question, no. It was truly embarrassing. Our State Reps are all worthless. They claim they are blocked by rules to help their constituents especially the elderly and the poor from getting any financial relief. Fine, use that EXCUSE. They could have spoken up to PURA last night. Financial burden is financial burden, period. Everyone from the Mayor on down should have been there last night. We pay these State Reps, for what? Is the question. Completely worthless, all of them. They all need to be voted out before they make their worthless a$$es any further up the ladder! Angry Jeff, I was angry 25 years ago!!! Now I just sit dumbfounded and truly amazed. Who the heck voted for these people?! Happy Friday, OIB!!!

  • Jennifer Buchanan

    Last report, only Hawaii pays a higher rate than CT for electricity. With such a small area for power delivery, why are the rates so high? UI received federal tax breaks for the solar fields they installed. UI resells the clean energy at a higher rate. UI is allowed to add a green energy surcharge to every customer bill to pay for the solar fields. Is the company so mismanaged they cannot meet their obligations without this rate hike? Isn’t this a state and federal issue since they are a quasi-public utility? State and federal reps have staff to research any issue; if I can find this information, why were the Bridgeport reps not prepped and at the hearing making these points?

    • Frank Gyure

      It’s very unfortunate, and wrong, that the political culture in Bridgeport is focused on POWER. So by the time anyone gets to the level of an elected representative, their mindset sees only “power” and the words “community service” are absent from their vocabulary.

  • Ron Mackey

    Mr. Shaban, do you agree with Donald Trump’s position on Russian President Putin?

    • Gary Tobin

      What’s Trump’s position on Putin?
      Do you think Trump will be giving more plutonium to Putin than Hillary did? Do you think Trump will funnel donations to his foundation and campaign through another plutonium sale to Putin?

      PS, Putin and Obama are partners now.

      • Ron Mackey

        There’s a love connection with Trump towards Putin, imagine the Republican candidate for President of the United States praises a communist leader who wants to do harm to America and Trump praises this madman. What has happened to the Republican Party?

  • Frank Gyure

    John Shaban, If it is not about being Democrats and Republicans, why do you have JR Romano and Timmie Herbst standing next to you in that pic that happened to be posted? Much of politics is optics, what “we the people” see. JR and Timmie are a couple of the most partisan Republicans around. Ohhh, I have to correct myself, Timmie likes to dine at Testo’s Restaurant (the sauce is good) and so Timmie is a little less partisan than JR. And the dessert was a better WPCA deal with Ganim (and the people of Bridgeport will continue to subsidize the WPCA S##t from Trumbull).

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