The big show in November between Republican Congressman Christopher Shays and his Democratic opponent Jim Himes is gonna be a hoot.
That’s because Bridgeport will decide whether Himes takes out the last standing New England Republican in the House of Representatives. This race will play out nationally, but OIB will give you the skinny the nationals won’t figure out–the personalities driving the story within the story.
Before it’s over Shays will likely spend $4 million in the congressional district, while Himes will probably eclipse $3 million, plenty to make a go of it. The question is how much dough will the Himes campaign dump in Bridgeport and what pol will be in charge of playing Santa Claus on Election Day Nov. 4?
Are you rubbing your hands together? Will it be Democratic Town Chairman Mario Testa? Or will it be the former chairman John Stafstrom aligned with Mayor Bill Finch? The juggling act facing Himes and his campaign manager Maura Keaney heading into the gut of the campaign centers on maximizing results within a party split. They have the dough to spend, but where? For Democratic district leaders it’s like ringing the dinner bell. Okay, boys, let’s line up! We got a campaign here willing to spend a few hundred K to juice every possible vote.
Mario’s the man in charge of most of the party, but hizzoner and Stafstrom were resurrected politically last week with the Auden Grogins victory over State Rep. Rapid Robert Keeley, the longest serving legislator in the city’s history. Both Finch and Stafstrom weighed in hard on behalf of the blonde banshee from Black Rock: the mayor pulling votes out of P.T. Barnum apartments in the West End and Stafstrom doing his thing on the West Side.
There’s a sense with Himes supporters that Finch is playing footsies with Shays. The congressman, as most incumbents do during an election cycle, is trotting out goodies for his district: fuel assistance, transportation loot, law enforcement money, aiding victims of the sub-prime mortgage disaster.
Finch, a Democrat, has given Himes an obligatory endorsement, but how much sweat will he drop in lieu of a congressman, who makes his home in Bridgeport, bringing home sugar from Washington?
Smart pols do their best to cleverly co-op the opposition party. Shays knows he’s going to get smoked in the state’s largest city with Barack Obama juicing an inner-city vote, but if he can cut into the margins just a few extra percentage points (while running up numbers down county in GOP areas), it could make the difference between sunrise and sayonara.
Stay tuned. We’re just warming up.