A poll released Tuesday by Sacred Heart University gives Republican Congressman Christopher Shays a 10-point edge over his Democratic challenger Jim Himes.
The poll is much more in line with Shays’ internal numbers than the Himes camp which had announced two weeks ago that the race was even. Two years ago at this time polls showed Shays’ opponent Diane Farrell within a few points of the congressman. Ten points still makes the race doable for Himes with four weeks to go, but in order to close the deal he must still make the argument why voters should fire the 21-year incumbent.
The SHU poll was conducted before Shays’ Wall Street bailout vote that Himes says he also supports. See SHU announcement below:
A new poll of likely Fairfield County voters puts veteran United States Congressman Christopher Shays well ahead of his Democratic challenger, Jim Himes. And almost two-thirds of those responding (64.3%) saw the economy as the dominant issue in this year’s elections, more than twice the number who cited the war in the Middle East. The poll was conducted by the Sacred Heart University Polling Institute in conjunction with WSHU Public Radio.
Telephone interviews were conducted among 400 likely voters of the Fourth Congressional District. The survey, which was fielded September 22-25, probed issues of concern in the present election, residents’ sense of economic well being, and such related questions as term limits for members of Congress and the expense of campaigns.
Nearly nine out of ten respondents indicated that their standard of living was very good or good. However, nearly twice as many people thought their standard of living was declining (59.3%) as those who said it was improving (32.3%). In addition, more than 80% of voters said they favored candidates who showed themselves willing to cross party lines. By three-to-one margins, they agreed that congressional elections had become too costly and that term limits for members of Congress were well advised.
Almost 65% of respondents could identify, in an unaided format question, the incumbent Republican Congressman, Chris Shays, a figure that was 47% for Mr. Himes. If the election were held at the time of the survey, 40.5% of voters said they would vote for Mr. Shays, the lone GOP member of Congress in New England, while 30.5% favored his challenger. A large percent, 29%, were still undecided. In the national contest, likely voters supported Senator Barack Obama over Senator John McCain 47% to 37.7% with 15.3 % remaining undecided.
Over half of those surveyed, 55.5%, recalled Christopher Shays campaign advertising compared to 42.0% for Jim Himes.
According to Gary Rose, Ph.D., professor and chair of Sacred Heart University’s Department of Government and Politics, the most recent poll suggests that many voters in Connecticut’s Fourth Congressional District are once again willing to split their ticket between their preferred presidential and congressional candidate.
“This is quite remarkable in light of the very anti-Republican mood among the Connecticut electorate. The poll further underscores how Congressman Shays has been able to effectively maintain his maverick image and present himself time and time again as a very different sort of Republican. At the same time, however, the Congressman should not feel overly confident in light of the large percentage of undecided voters. Undecided voters have been known to break for the challenger. The economic crisis, which has affected many stock holders in in the Fourth District, could certainly accelerate this development,” he said.
The Sacred Heart University Polling Institute regularly conducts national polls on issues of significant interest. This was the first telephone survey to concentrate on Fairfield County and the first to be cosponsored by WSHU, the award-winning NPR station affiliated with Sacred Heart University.
How the Poll Was Conducted
The Sacred Heart University Polling Institute completed 400 interviews with likely voters living within Connecticut’s fourth Congressional District, between September 22 – 26, 2008. Statistically, a sample of 400 completed telephone interviews represents a margin for error of +/-5% at a 95% confidence level.
Borges Blows Acorns Over Registration Drive
How do you like your acorn squash? Republican Registrar of Voters Joe Borges doesn’t like the way a community group has been serving up local voter registration drives.
Borges’ running battle with ACORN continues. Last Friday he filed a complaint with the State Elections Enforcement Commission charging that the Bridgeport chapter of the neighborhood activist group forged a voter registration drive that produced more than 100 rejected applications.
In his complaint to the state Borges writes:
“The organization ACORN during the summer of 2008 conducted a registration drive, which has produced over a hundred rejections due to incomplete forms and individuals who are not citizens…also we have a box of duplicate cards and three boxes of forms returned by the P.O. as undeliverable. All of this has been a strain on my office and jeopardizes our ability to enter legitimate registration cards.”
Borges lists several problem cards such as two residents underage to vote, a man who was incarcerated when the card was filled out for him, a woman from Stratford who claimed she was pressured to give ACORN her information and three cards of the same name and address with different signatures.
Nationally, ACORN has trumpeted registration of more than one million voters for this election cycle, predominately in states helping Democratic rolls, marking registration cards with the notation A. Several chapters throughout the country have been cited for running bogus campaign operations. I’m looking forward to a response from the ACORN locals.
Doing More With Less
In front of roughly 100 gawking off-duty cops upset about police layoffs, Mayor Bill Finch delivered his State of the City address Monday night to the Bridgeport City Council. Part of Finch’s problem is the $4.5 million budgeted for Steelpointe revenues that may not materialize in this economic climate, as well as more than one million budgeted for union concessions that the mayor has not yet achieved. He blames Johnny Fabs for the budget he inherited when he took office, but this current year budget that began July 1 is all his. See excerpts of Finch’s speech below.
As I am sure you are all painfully aware, we live in very challenging times for anyone who manages a budget, whether it’s a head of household, president of a company or a mayor.
We are in uncharted waters, facing many uncertainties.
During this time of dramatic change, we are, and continue to be confronted with situations that can swing 180 degrees in less than a day.
There are no absolutes – what was true last year may not be true today, and what is true today may not be true tomorrow.
Many of the old rules by which we have lived have changed completely and we, as the managers of city government and keepers of the public trust must pay strict attention, so that we can take whichever bold steps and swift actions are necessary to protect our city, and its citizens.
This is not a positive time for our national economy and as a result, many of the decisions we must make will no doubt be difficult, unpleasant, and at times, unpopular.
We’ve made some tough choices in the past, and we will make even more difficult choices in the coming months. I believe we can make those tough choices and that we will emerge stronger than ever with more disciplined finances.
To get us from where we are to where we want our city to be our guiding philosophy must be: “To do more with less.”
This means that to create a better future and a better Bridgeport we must ask for a sacrifice from everyone now, which will pay rewards to all of us in the future. Let me say again, yes, we will need sacrifices from all.
This will require participation and cooperation on everyone’s part, including: administrators in the city and the Board of Education. It includes the unions, city workers, Board of Education employees, those who do business with the city, taxpayers, and of course, me.
All three of Connecticut’s biggest cities – Hartford, New Haven and Bridgeport are facing difficult budget times. The difference in Bridgeport is this – we’ve depleted our “rainy day” fund and right now, it’s pouring outside.
When I took over this office a little less than a year ago, I realized we had been misinformed and misled about the financial situation regarding the Bridgeport city budget. We were not in as good shape as we were led to believe, and therefore, I was forced to make hard choices immediately to address a nearly $20 million deficit that I had unexpectedly inherited. Here are the facts:
• If there had been no deficit, then there would be fewer layoffs.
• If there had been no deficit, we would be seeking fewer concessions from our many labor unions in order to keep the budget on track.
• If there had been no deficit we would still have 20 million dollars more in our depleted rainy day fund.
But the news is not all gloomy. From Day 1, this administration has focused on doing what was necessary to put us on the road to prudent financial management. We have taken action to:
• enhance efficiency
• eliminate duplication
• improve management
• take advantage of technology, and
• streamline city government.
While we’ve done all that, we have continued to place a premium on public safety, on the quality of life in our city, on capturing the revenues we are due, and on working hard to invigorate projects that will provide additional revenue.
I would analogize what has gone on over the past year like this: Last December, when I took office, the city was like a runaway bus on a bumpy road. Today, we’ve got control of the bus, but the road remains very bumpy.
Just look at what a difference a year makes. This time last year, we were all very excited about the future. There was a great real estate boom, with projects like Steelpointe attracting major developers. We were expecting that land sales proceeds, permit fees and new tax revenues would soon be flowing into our great city.
While we continue to work hard with the developers to make sure their proposals become reality, we know it’s a very different world than it was a year ago. Our country is struggling with a $700 billion financial system bailout.
The major investment banks on Wall Street–Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers, Smith Barney–most of the major players in the investment banking realm–are gone. Investment banks are the engine that helps cities like ours sell bonds and raise money. Without them we will have a harder time raising funds for projects such as school buildings and TIF bonds.
This is disappointing news for both the developers and the city. Though we will have to wait longer to see a new city skyline take shape, it won’t be postponed indefinitely.
Let me tell you exactly what we are doing.
We launched an aggressive plan to make sure all the taxes that are owed the city of Bridgeport are paid. Period.
Simultaneously, we are looking for ways to make our city government more efficient, cost effective and customer friendly.
Property owners, both developers and individuals, owe the city millions in back taxes and we are going to collect what is owed.
Our message is clear: It doesn’t matter who you are or who you know, if you owe taxes to the city, then it’s time to pay up.
Motor vehicle owners have cheated their tax-paying neighbors and the city out of nearly $45 million dollars in back taxes, some stretching back 15 years. Fifteen years.
This is unacceptable. We’re going to recapture as much as possible by getting tough on scofflaws.
We are selling city-owned property, moving these parcels from tax draining to tax generating positions. For example, we recently sold 333 State St. and the old American Fabrics property in July, creating not only new tax revenue but new opportunities for Bridgeport residents. These two properties alone represent a combined investment of almost $14 million dollars. This development means new residential units, as well as new office, retail and industrial space will now generate tax revenues. This will generate new jobs and tax revenues.
We also instituted a furlough program through which I, members of my staff, and other city administrators took unpaid time off in order to cut costs. Let me take a moment to thank all the employees who took a furlough; I would urge all city employees to consider joining the effort.
We are focused on continuing economic development. No doubt, the flagging national and state economies which have dramatically affected the national budget, as well as the state budget and the budgets of cities like Hartford and New Haven, has hurt our ability to–to use a baseball analogy–hit the ball out of the park. But we have hit some solid singles and doubles. Here are some examples:
The City Council and my administration have been instrumental in securing completion of the latest phase of the Bijou Square project at 323 Fairfield Ave. This involves construction of a five-story building with retail stores and 84 condominiums.
The CityTrust project on Main Street, a perfect example of the kind of adaptive reuse that the city is now known for, was renovated into 118 apartments with retail space on the ground level, and is nearly fully occupied.
The Lofts at 881 Lafayette Blvd.–another adaptive reuse project–is a $7 million dollar project that resulted in the creation of 38 residential condominiums, which includes four units made available to buyers at below-market prices.
We hired Donald Eversley as our new director of the Office of Planning and Economic Development. Don comes to us from Providence, known as the “Renaissance City” of the Northeast, where he led the charge to get approximately 200 properties back on the tax rolls, generating millions of dollars of new revenue for Providence. We’re excited at his arrival and optimistic that with his talent and experience we can replicate that effort here in Bridgeport.
And, just outside downtown, St. Vincent’s Medical Center just broke ground for its new Cancer Center–a $150 million investment in the city’s growing healthcare sector. This project contributed significant building and permit fees in the last year–a bright spot in an area where revenue is down overall.
Kudos to the Tactical Narcotics Squad–one of the finest units anywhere doing this kind of work–for the recent arrests of several people who were involved in drug dealing in the city. It’s just one example of the number of arrests this unit makes throughout the year that helps improve the quality of life for our residents.
Kudos also to the Neighborhood Enforcement Team, a unit that specializes in quality of life issues. The team has taken more than 60 guns off the street ranging from handguns to machine guns. They have intervened in two robberies in progress. The unit also closed down numerous retailers who were illegally selling alcohol to minors. And this group has only been working together for 18 months.
The work that the NET Team and the Tactical Narcotics Squad do, are but two examples of the fine work that our police officers do every day.
We purchased a new fire boat to help us better patrol the harbor and protect the many boats and ships that sail through our waters every day.
The Fire Department, in conjunction with RYASAP and AmeriCorps, has been busy installing smoke detectors in the home of any Bridgeport resident who wants one through the Safe Asleep program. Bridgeport’s Fire Department has provided more smoke detectors – 15,586 – than any other fire department in the country. Just imagine how many lives have been saved because of this program.
In one instance alone, 11 people escaped from a burning three-family home because the Bridgeport Fire Department had provided them with smoke detectors.
I want to thank the members of the City Council, who together with me have helped make the tough decisions in the past. Your leadership will be essential in the coming months, because we will have to continue to make tough and unpopular decisions in order to build a stronger future for the city.