Thursday, July 14, 2005

Farrell to Challenge Shays Again

Westport First Selectwoman Diane Farrell will be challenging Rep. Chris Shays (R-4th District) again in 2006. Farrell came within 4 percentage points of defeating Shays in the rapidly shifting district in 2004. So far, she has no Democratic opposition. Here's what she had to say:

"In the past two years, Connecticut's highways have become more congested, our schools have received fewer dollars, and our families and seniors have lost even more ground when it comes to their disposable incomes and their access to health care," Farrell said.

"We need a congressman who's wedded to the people and families of this district — not to an extreme leadership that is frighteningly out of touch with Connecticut." (Urban)

So that's the line. We'll see if it works, especially since Shays and guys like Tom DeLay aren't exactly friends lately. The widening split in the GOP is evident from the vast gulf between the two.

The conventional wisdom is that Farrell has a very good shot of winning this time. Shays seems vulnerable, and Farrell did very well last time. Let's take a look.

First, let's look at the 4th District, which is shaping up to be just as interesting as the 2nd:

Note the drastic erosion of support for Shays, whose margin of victory in 2002 was much safer. How much of this, however, was the result of the race at the top of the ticket? The presidential election map may provide a few more clues:

John Kerry did remarkably well in the 4th District, which has long been a Republican stronghold. A few of the key towns where Farrell had the most success, such as Stamford, Norwalk, Westport, Weston and Redding, also went pretty heavily for Kerry. How much of her success was bound up in his? Will she be able to do as well (or better) without either a Kerry to vote for or a George Bush to vote against?

So--is the 4th District really moderating, or is it a fluke? Well, the town council control map shows that eight of the seventeen town councils/boards of selectmen are now controlled by Democrats, which suggests moderation. This isn't to say that Republicans aren't strong in Fairfield County: they are. They're simply a bit less strong than they were three years ago, when John Rowland and Chris Shays carried the area during the nationwide Republican rout of 2002. Democrats are expected to be stronger in 2006, and a competitive governor's race with a strong Democratic candidate will help her as well.

So therefore Farrell certainly does have a chance to do well, even if a John Kerry isn't at the top of the ticket. A Rell landslide, however (should one occur) might sweep Shays back into office. The bottom line is that there is now no certainty in a district that once was a Republican lock.

Urban, Peter. "Farrell-Shays II coming in 2006." Connecticut Post 14 July, 2005.


Anonymous said...

I don't think majority status on a Board of Selectmen indicates too much in the way of voting patterns. Here in Ridgefield we have a majority-Democrat BoS (all other boards are GOP), but the town continues to overwhelmingly support the GOP for state and federal races. Our First Selectman is a popular native with many friends, party means little.

Very much similar situations in Bethel and Newtown.

Genghis Conn said...

Well, yes and no. Look at the town council control map and compare it to the state representatives map. The two align pretty closely in most areas (with a few disputed areas around the edges of more solid ones). Council control can indeed be a predictor of how a town will vote in an upcoming election for larger offices.

Then again, in towns where local party means little (smaller towns, usually)--control of the town council may not matter so much.

Does it matter in Ridgefield and Newtown? No. But in Norwalk, Stamford, Westport and Fairfield? Heck yes.

Anonymous said...

Farrell will not do as well as in 2004 for three reasons. First is the top of the ticket...Rell will do much better in Fairfield Country than Bush did. Second is her campaign...tying Chris Shays to Tom DeLay is a losing pitch. Shays has moved even further to the center, and is arguably the most liberal Republican on Congress. Third is the fact that Shays is going to substantially out-raise her. Farrell is a sharp person, but I think she missed her chance.

Democrats have a better chance of picking off Simmons out East if the sub base truly closes.

Ebpie said...

I think Farrell's best chance was in '04, but she still has a good shot in '06. Rell will probably do better in Fairfield than Bush, but she isn't terribly popular down there given her tax and spend policies. Unless there is a Rell landslide I don't think Shays will enjoy much of a bump. I agree that the Delay attacks won't stick as Shays is the only Republican to call on him to resign. As far as fundraising goes I think both sides are going to pump in millions. Everyone knows this will be a tough fight so Shays and Farrell will probably have all the resources they need. My money is on Shays, but who knows what could happen in the coming months.

FrankS said...

Unless Rell make some visible improvement in transportation and traffic, she will do poorly in the 4th. The railcar purchases have been overdue, so no real change has been offered. If Malloy is on the ticket, he will bring a larger turnout in Stamford and greater benefit to Farrell.

stomv said...

Is it possible that some (significant) sources of Shays' money will dry up because of his breaking with DeLay? I have no idea, and I'm not suggesting that it will or won't be so... just wondering.

If Shays has a bit more trouble raising funds (since the national GOP and him aren't lockstep) and the Dems dump some money into the race to pick up another seat in the House, will the money still favor Shays?

Ebpie said...


I don't think Shays need worry about not getting enough money from the GOP. He held a fundraiser with Denny Hastert a few months ago. Even though he may annoy them at times, when all is said and done Shays is still a Republican who supports the party on several key issues.

Genghis Conn said...

anonymous (er, second one),

Simmons ran (and won) on saving the base, and so far he's failed to deliver. The map shows a shifting of his support down towards the southeastern part of the state in 2004, so any loss of that support could be very damaging.


I agree with Ebpie, I don't think he'll have trouble raising money.

The problem that Democrats have is that both Joe Courtney and Diane Farrell have lost to their respective opponents once before. Statistically, candidates who lose once are extremely unlikely to win when matched against the same person. But that's just statistics, of course (and they're probably skewed by Ed Munster).

Aldon Hynes said...

Random comments about Shays v Farrell:

Caveat: I was a volunteer for Farrell last cycle and I will do everything I can to help her in this cycle. In previous elections, I have voted for Shays.

Diane has grown a lot through her previous campaign. She has gained substantial name recognition which she didn't have coming into the last election, and should have a much easier time raising money. She has also become a much better speaker and campaigner.

Trying to tie Shays to Delay will be more difficult this time around. However, there is still enough partisan rancor to go around.

Transportation is still a mess in Fairfield County and Shays has been getting beat up a lot on his support of the Iraq war, the Patriot Act, and hasn't done very well on Social Security. There are a lot more people actively gunning for him now than there were two years ago.

Shays shouldn't have any money raising money either and he has done an okay job of trying to distance himself from Delay.

I think it will be an exciting race.

MikeCT said...

I can't say I have the math to back it up, but I suspect there is a much tighter correlation between Presidential preference and Congressional preference than there is between town council and Congressional preference.

Anonymous said...

I certainly hope Shays wins again. Farrell ran a negative campaign, spending more of her time trying to show Shays' shortsights than her own "good side". Westport certainly hasn't improved with her in charge.

Hopefully the GOP will get someone good to run in Stamford, Malloy has done as much good for the city as the now-gone superintendant did.

And.. aren't highway dollars for the state the governer's responsibility, not the congressman's?

Railcars WERE purchased for the New Haven line, but somewhere along the line no one thought to check if the tracks were the same as the Harlem Line's. And they weren't. Rell has finally allotted funding for new cars to actually be purchased. Ones that WILL fit the tracks.

FrankS said...

To the last anonymous comment:

I-95 is an interstate highway, it gets federal funding. Connecticut is not getting back what it pays in federal taxes already and highway support is a critical need. This is where Shays efforts are lacking. The railcars is a total state screw-up, these should be on a regular scheduled purchase plan, they have a limited lifespan. So, just like a car, you need to plan for it's replacement and rotate out the less sustainable vehicles. The excuse about the tracks is laughable.