Republican Congressional challenger John Shaban may have crassly and continually labeled incumbent Jim Himes a “done nothing, do nothing” politician while campaigning for the U.S. House of Representatives 4th District, but it was obvious by Tuesday night that voters didn’t agree.
For the fifth straight time Himes won, and unlike his first victory in 2008, when it was assumed that he’d been assisted by fellow Democrat Barack Obama’s overwhelming popularity in the 4th, it is obvious Himes has now become a very well-liked politician on his own.
The fit and trim 50-year-old Greenwich resident arrived at his Stamford Sheraton election night headquarters around 9 p.m., ready to galvanize followers with a victory speech.
Flanked on stage by his glowing wife, Mary, and daughters Emma and Linley, the photogenic Himes smiled broadly while enjoying the lengthy ovation given by the many hundreds of supporters on hand.
After thanking them and his campaign workers, the normally even-keeled Himes showed some emotion.
“I believe this is a historical evening because we are going to elect the first woman president,” he said, his voice rising. “But regardless of what happens, something doesn’t change, and that is the values that bring us together in this room. When a child is born into Stamford or Greenwich or Bridgeport or New Canaan, that child deserves the same chance. We are all created equal. It doesn’t matter if your skin is black or white; you are treated the same. It doesn’t matter if you’re gay or straight; you are treated the same. It doesn’t matter if you’re rich or poor, you are treated the same.”
A few minutes earlier, just after Shaban had conceded, Himes spoke exclusively to the HAN Network.
How rewarding is it to have voters choose you again and again?
“It feels good and it feels humbling. These have been a difficult eight years for the country and for Connecticut. I got elected with a new president, Barack Obama. It feels good to know that voters of this Congressional district wanted me to keep representing them.”
Why do you think voters, specifically in Bridgeport and Stamford, have connected with you?
“I spend a lot of time with my voters, whether in Rotary Club luncheons or knocking on doors or just listening to their concerns. I’m a huge believer that as a representative the main thing I have to do is listen, and I do listen and I think I get votes from people who say ‘I don’t necessarily agree with this guy but I know he does listen to me.’ ”
In your next term do you have specific goals you’d like to accomplish for Connecticut?
“Connecticut still has some economic challenges that we need to address. My role in doing that is to make sure we have the resources to build our highways, our railways, and harden our networks against the weather we’ve seen. So I’m going to work to make sure we have the resources we need to be the great state that we can be.”
Does this ever get old?
“No, it doesn’t get old. I gotta tell you, elections are what distinguish us from so many countries. Yeah they’re challenging, and yeah you don’t get enough sleep, but you know what? Electing your leadership, that’s what makes this country special.”
A (long) day in the life
Himes has energy to burn whenever out in public, and it served him well Tuesday, as his schedule was intense. To wit:
9-9:45 a.m. — Voting and greeting voters in his hometown of Greenwich.
10-10:45 a.m. — In Stamford, greeting voters with State Rep. Caroline Simmons and State Senate Candidate John Blankley.
Noon-12:45 p.m. — At Norwalk Community College to meet with veterans in advance of the Veteran’s Day program.
1-1:45 p.m.— At a middle school in Norwalk to greet voters with State Sen. Bob Duff and State Rep. candidate Randall Klein.
2-2:30 p.m. — At Westport Democratic headquarters to greet Westport volunteers.
2:45-3:15 p.m. — At a Fairfield school to greet voters with Senate candidate Phil Dwyer and State Rep. Cristin McCarthy Vahey.
3:45-4:15 p.m. — At a church in Bridgeport to address canvassers before they head out for a final voter push.
6:30-7 p.m. — At a Bridgeport school to greet voters with State Rep. Steve Staffstrom.
7:15-7:45 p.m. — At another Bridgeport school to greet voters with State Rep. Jack Hennessey.
8-8:45 p.m. — At the Norwalk Inn to attend the election night event and greet candidates and volunteers.
9-whenever — At the Stamford Sheraton.
Himes aide Patrick Malone was tasked with chauffeuring the congressman all day, but told the HAN Network he caught a break.
“His wife met up with us in the early afternoon and she took over the driving.” he said with a smile.