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CT-04: Richter Passes, Himes Runs with Puck

by: Maura

Tue Mar 20, 2007 at 18:46:55 PM EDT

A few weeks after having dinner with local party chairs and less than a week after former Rangers goalie Mike Richter was introduced to the Democratic Congressional caucus in DC, Richter has made calls to key players in the the district today to say he has decided not to challenge Shays next year.

While I'm sad to have lost the opportunity to play with hockey/politics metaphors for the next 18 months, the good news is that rumors of Richter's potential candidacy has accelerated the timeline of other local political leaders who are considering a run against Shays in '08.  Earning that elusive last 2% to carry a Democrat over the top against Shays requires an candidate to be out there now building support in the district and raising awareness about Shays' performace in Congress.

On that note, Jim Himes has done an impressive job of beginning to lay the cornerstones of  his campaign against Shays.  In the past two weeks, Himes has published great op-ed pieces against Shays in the  Greenwich Citizen and two days ago in the The Advocate (Stamford and Norwalk) and Greenwich Time.

Himes has an outstanding community service record here in the 4th, where he and his wife Mary have lived since 1998 in a modest but charming home on the banks of the Mianus River in Cos Cob.  (See an evocative description of Jim and Mary's home from Greenpeas.)  Himes has two young daughters, one in pre-K and the other in public school.  He has served as the Commisioner of the Greenwich Housing Authority and on the Board of Estimate and Taxation in Greenwich.  Himes became Chairman of the Greenwich Democratic Town Committee in 2002, and under his leadership the DTC has built a very strong organization and has run aggressive, well-organized campaigns against previously uncontested Republicans.

Himes has also served as the Chair of the Board of Aspira Connecticut, an organization that runs after-school programs for Latino youth in Bridgeport.

Jim Himes grew up in Latin America, living in Peru and Columbia for over 10 years while his father did non-profit work for the Ford Foundation and UNICEF.  A fluent Spanish speaker, Himes was Phi Beta Kappa at Harvard and received an M.Phil. in Latin American studies from Oxford University, where he studied as a Rhodes Scholar.  Himes is an expert in Latin American capital markets and was a Vice President at Goldman Sachs, were he worked in investment banking for over a decade before returning to his roots in non-profit public service.

Jim is now the director of Enterprise New York, New York's "leading nonprofit provider of affordable housing for low-income residents".  The Enterprise Foundation builds more than 3,000 units of affordable housing per year.  Himes has experience in projects providing financial incentives for "green building" (such as this innovative project in Harlem) and development of technology-rich community centers such as the Heiskell Enterprise Center in the Bronx.

Himes definitely has the resume for service in Congress, with expertise in foreign policy, economics, banking, and domestic issues such as affordable housing.  Shays fought off two very tough challenges from Diane Farrell, however - could Jim Himes be stronger than Farrell and finally take Democrats over the finish line?


Himes can raise the money that it takes to compete, and with a great campaign organization in place, Himes should be able to maintain the gains that Farrell fought for in the more affluent areas of Wilton, Ridgefield, Darien, Westport, and the like.  They key to winning in the 4th is holding down Shays' performance in these areas while cranking Democratic turnout in Stamford, Norwalk, and Bridgeport.  And that's where Jim's fluency in Spanish and commitment to aggressive grassroots organizing would pay off. 

Jim is in the midst of numerous discussions with party leaders, Democratic activists, and community leaders thoughout the district, including a few meetings with bloggers - see impressions from thomashooker, Jon, Melissa, and Bob.  Jim has a solid understanding of the potential for netroots outreach to complement on-the-ground grassroots organizing.  What makes me most enthusiastic about Jim, though, is his sincerity and passion for public service and the common good. 

While Jim Himes has not yet officially declared his candidacy, he is certainly building support around the district from people like me who fervently hope that he decides to run.

Maura :: CT-04: Richter Passes, Himes Runs with Puck
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Not to be shallow, but he's photogenic. (0.00 / 0)
In a society where elections are sometimes partially based on how a person looks (like a popularity contest), Mr. Himes at least will look good to the low-info voter. But then again, so did Diane Farrell. So, never mind.

I think it is a very good idea to get your candidate out there even if he has not announced yet. People of the 4th CD need to start get familiar with whomever the Dems decide to run against "off-his-meds" Shays.

The arc of history is long, but it bends toward justice. --Martin Luther King, Jr.

It definitely matters (0.00 / 0)
Himes' good looks are definitely an asset, as much as geeky/cerebral types like me would like to dream that voters would judge a candidate entirely on substance, not surface.  Luckily, Jim's got a Rhodes Scholar-brain and a good heart to go along with that great head shot, too. 

And it doesn't hurt that Mary Himes is smart and gorgeous and his little daughters are button-cute seem well-behaved, too.

But you're right about the most important thing: Jim and anyone else who might challege Shays needs to raise a profile now.  I'm glad to see that he realizes that and is out there working already.

[ Parent ]
Announcement (0.00 / 0)
So when would Himes announce? Is he building a staff? Who are his political patrons?

Disclosure: I'm proud to work for the Service Employees International Union

[ Parent ]
Sieve, sieve, sieve! (0.00 / 0)
Riiiiichter.... Riiiiichter... Riiiiichter....

Okay, no more hockey metaphors. Phooey.

si se puede! (4.00 / 1)
I hope everyone enjoyed their 4 months off... now it's time to get back to work!

My personal sense is that Himes' greatest strength - apart from his obvious areas of policy expertise - is that he has a real overarching sense of how exactly Democrats should be leading the country, and how exactly cynical operators like Shays are doing real damage to our global standing and our national identity.

Ordinarily, Shays waits to see what the poll-tested message against him will be, then proceeds to spend the last 8 months of his term using his office to undermine those charges. I think that this time, though, Himes has his number, and I don't think Shays we be able to wriggle away with a strategically-placed vote or two.

Let me guess... (0.00 / 0)
Yes, it's possible! That's what you said, right? I'm not Hispanic. But I know un poquito espanol. (I don't have time to figure out how to put the little thing that goes on top of the n on html).

The arc of history is long, but it bends toward justice. --Martin Luther King, Jr.

[ Parent ]
I'm Excited about Himes (0.00 / 0)
The buzz around Richter fizzled almost as soon as it began.  I think I'm on the record about thinking a celebrity candidate in the 4th is/was a terrible idea.  We need someone who understands the problems facing our district, particularly when it comes to transportation. 

My first impressions of Himes were quite positive.  I look forward to getting to know him better, and watching his campaign take shape.  I still believe that with the right candidate we can win in the 4th.  Jim Himes just might be that candidate.

I wonder what happened to change Mike's mind? (0.00 / 0)
I was a little worried about Richter's seclusion following his "announcement" recently, and that led me to believe he didn't really want to have to battle for the nod.  I won't be surprised if he continues to shop for a district that gives him a better reception.  But I think it'll be in NY or NJ; we only needed a Dem to run in the 4th, and it looks like Jim Himes is the early leader.

I'm not a big fan of primaries unless it's a situation like Ned vs. Joe.  Having two Dems battle it out to win the chance to go against Shays would waste a lot of energy and resources before the general election.  Malloy vs. DeStefano is a good example of the challengers killing themselves to win a primary and then having too little left to win the general. 

I'm hoping that Jim gets enough early support to forego a wasteful primary; although in a previous article, MattW did bring up some good reasons why a primary isn't necessarily a bad thing.

Connecticut Bob

Let the Shays meltdown continue... (0.00 / 0)
Can we put a pool together as to when Chris reaches the breaking point?? Viva Himes!

I'm excited about having people get to know Jim Himes (0.00 / 0)
I have to say, I find Jim likeable, very smart,  very down to earth (no posturing, no airs, lots of straight talk, good sense of humor), grounded in 1) information and 2)willngness to think further about a broad range of issues -- and he's got a very strong dose of personal decency in the mix as well. This is my honest take - not jumping on a bandwagon, fwiw.  I look forward to comparing notes with others who have an opportunity to talk to him and start to get to know him.

People make a lot of Jim's being able to speak Spanish, but I think what may be even more important is his ability to LISTEN in Spanish, and actually hear what's on people's minds in both English and Spanish.  It is very powerful to communicate with someone in the language their parents taught them.

In the two conversations I've joined in on with Jim in the past couple of weeks, very little of the discussion delved into Himes's views on specific issues.  To be fair, working out a position takes time and grilling him before he's even finished his considerations on whether to run for Congress did seem a LITTLE premature! I'm looking forward to hearing more.

Jim was a big supporter of Ned Lamont from the... (0.00 / 0)
very beginning.  So we know that his position against Bush's war is very solid. 

[ Parent ]
If so, then he's "good people" (0.00 / 0)
..as we say.

[ Parent ]
DTC Invitation (0.00 / 0)
Maura, do you know how we can get Jim to come meet with our DTC? I'm in the 4th District, and we'd love to have him come visit us and speak to us on affordable housing.

We're also having a Democratic town fundraiser in June, which we would like to invite him to and maybe have him speak.

Send me an e-mail. (0.00 / 0)
And I will get him there.  khynes2000 at yahoo dot com

[ Parent ]
oops - didn't realize Aldon was logged in (0.00 / 0)
Send *me* an e-mail.

[ Parent ]
Thank you (0.00 / 0)
Kim, Aldon, I just tracked down Maura through DFA.

[ Parent ]
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