'Rep. Christopher Shays looked out across the U.S. Capitol grounds from the steps that lead to the House chamber, absorbing the moment as the sun beat down on his head.Peter Urban sums up the rampant contradictions of Shays in one neat little sentence:
The House of Representatives had just approved a $700 billion emergency bill to bail out Wall Street -- a blueprint that the Bush administration hoped would stop the bleeding that threatened to kill the national economy.
"That could have been my last vote," said Shays, who turns 63 next Saturday.
Shays won a close re-election in 2006 and, in fact, was the only New England Republican elected to the House. He expects another close race this time as he seeks a 12th term.'
"He has been elated, depressed, frustrated and everything in between -- and has often seemed at odds with himself over what direction should be taken. He's proposed timelines for withdrawal while also supporting a surge in troops."Meanwhile, Post reporter Ken Dixon discusses Jim Himes:
"Our government is a little too focused on the big banks, rather than the people who want to hold onto their houses," Himes said of the big bailout legislation from the week before. "I would have liked to see relief for homeowners."Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch then talks about Jim's candidacy:
He said the bill, for which he would have reluctantly voted if he were in Congress instead of Rep. Christopher Shays, R-4, needed more of the kind of regulatory apparatus that lawmakers in Washington have neglected to require for years.
It was that absence of oversight, he said, that allowed the financial and credit industries to nearly self destruct, taking the nation's economy along with it.
"I was a trailblazer," Finch said with a laugh last week. "I think that Jim is a fine candidate who has a good campaign going, but I believe the trick here for Democrats is to transfer the Obama popularity and enthusiasm all the way down the ticket and do that in a district known from its ticket splitting."The Obama factor is significant in Jim's efforts to unseat longtime incumbent Chris Shays. While Barack Obama is set to win in every district here, it's crucial that Democratic voters keep the ticket intact all the way down the line.
Finch said that while former Westport First Selectman Diane Farrell came close but lost to Shays in 2006 and 2004, this year should be different.
More than any other time in memory, we would benefit from the old "party lever" that used to be on the voting machines. Maybe they can come up with a "party template" that has pre-selected holes in a piece of card stock that you simply place over the ballot and then fill in the holes.
I'm sure the GOP would love that!