A political rematch could well be on the horizon for 2014 as former state Sen. Dan Debicella of Shelton made it official last week: He is running again for Connecticut\u2019s 4th District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. With the election more than a year away, it\u2019s unclear what competition Debicella might have for the Republican nomination. However, having run for the seat after serving in the state Senate from 2006 to 2010, Debicella is already considered a favorite to be the Republican candidate. And if he gets the nomination, it sets up a rematch with U.S. Rep. Jim Himes, the Democrat who beat Debicella by 53%-47% in 2010 to win his second term in office. Himes, a Greenwich resident, has not made his 2014 plans official, but after another successful run in 2012, where he won his Republican-leaning hometown for the first time, it\u2019s considered extremely likely that he will seek a fourth term. \u2018Spending time with lobbyists\u2019 Debicella has Himes very much in his sights, saying that he has failed the district during his close to five years in office. \u201cIf you look at the type of congressman he\u2019s chosen to become, it\u2019s one where he is spending time with lobbyists and basically exchanging his influence in exchange for campaign contributions,\u201d Debicella said during an interview last week. \u201cLook at the Himes Amendment to H.R. 992, which adjusted the Dodd Frank regulation act on Wall Street,\u201d he said. \u201cThere, Himes basically sat down with Citigroup \u2014 The New York Times reported this \u2014 and took 70 of the 80 lines from Citigroup and made it his amendment. Then, in the next quarter, Citigroup was the number one contributor to the Himes campaign. People may say that\u2019s politics as usual, but is that how Washington should be?\u201d In the article cited by Debicella, Himes is not listed as the actual author of the amendment, though he did support it. In the article, Himes is quoted about the close ties of Wall Street to Congress, saying, \u201cIt\u2019s appalling, it\u2019s disgusting, it\u2019s wasteful and it opens the possibility of conflicts of interest and corruption. It\u2019s unfortunately the world we live in.\u201d Reaching across the aisle Debicella accused Himes of not acting in spirit with promises he made to be moderate and bipartisan by signing on to be the national finance chairman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which raises money to elect Democratic candidates to the house. \u201cHis voting step is in lock step with his party,\u201d Debicella said. \u201cHe talks a good game, but he doesn\u2019t actually reach across the aisle to find solutions.\u201d Seeking to be a moderate On that, Debicella admitted that \u201cthe Republican Party is equally to blame.\u201d Congressional Republicans have, on many occasions, refused to work with Democrats on legislation and have opposed most, if not all, of President Barack Obama\u2019s agenda, even if they had expressed past support for his proposals. And, if elected, Debicella, who promised to be a Connecticut Republican in the spirit of past 4th District Congressmen Christopher Shays and Stewart McKinney and work in a bipartisan fashion, could find himself at odds with a more extreme Republican caucus dominated by the \u201ctea party\u201d wing. \u201cWe need to have people in Washington who are able to bring both sides together,\u201d Debicella said. \u201cLook at the deficit. In last year\u2019s presidential race they asked all the Republican candidates in a debate if they would take a deal where it was one dollar of tax increases for $10 in spending cuts and they all said \u2018no.\u2019 "I would take that deal in a second," he continued, "and I would help make that deal by bringing together the conservatives who only want spending cuts with President Obama. You need people willing to reach out to both sides to bring it together.\u201d While noting there are areas where the two parties will never come together, Debicella pledged to move away from extreme rhetoric toward common ground. He said the only way the Republican Party would move more toward the direction once favored by the likes of Shays and McKinney is to \u201csend those kinds of Republicans\u201d to Congress. \u201cIf all that\u2019s in Congress is Michelle Bachmann on the right and Jim Himes on the left, you\u2019re never going to get anything done,\u201d Debicella said. \u201cYou need to send true moderates to Congress so you can have the GOP caucus get back to a right-of-center position, not right of right.\u201d Comparing 2010 to 2014 Debicella\u2019s run comes as Himes is more and more an established incumbent, a change for Democrats since for years the 4th District was represented by Republicans. In 2010, a year of huge Republican gains throughout the country, Himes was not only able to beat Debicella, but do it by a greater margin of victory than he had over Shays in 2008. But Debicella said he believes it will be different this time, with his improved name recognition, an early start, and a more concerted effort to meet with people so they can personally get to know him. \u201cWe came close in 2010,\u201d Debicella said. \u201cWe were the closest congressional race in Connecticut. Assuming turnout remains the same, we have to flip about 7,000 votes out of 220,000 to change the result.\u201d \u201cI think a big difference is Jim Himes,\u201d he said. \u201cIf you look at him in 2010 he was a first-term congressman getting his feet wet and I don\u2019t think he had the record he has now as being a part of the gridlock and the special interest culture. Chris Shays fought against that and Jim Himes chose to be a part of it. I think that will make a difference with swing voters.\u201d Becoming a father After his defeat in 2010, Debicella took some time away from politics, choosing not to seek the rematch in 2012. He said that he felt the timing was better next year for a second congressional run as opposed to last year, noting family as a main reason for his decision because having a son has motivated him. \u201cMy family lived the American dream,\u201d Debicella said. \u201cMy father was a cop and my mother was a secretary. I was the first person in my family to go to college. I look at what\u2019s happening now in Washington with the gridlock between the parties, between the special interest groups that are dominating the agenda and how Jim Himes has become part of this corrupt Washington culture, and I said something has to change. \u201cI have a son now, which I didn\u2019t last time around," he continued, "and I\u2019ve been thinking about what kind of country he\u2019ll grow up in. Is it going to be one where the American dream will be alive and well?\u201d\u2019 Spending cuts and reforms On a number of positions, Debicella said he is right where the district wants him to be. Like Himes, he said he is in favor of extending the country\u2019s debt ceiling, an issue that is expected to once again be a major topic in Congress later this year. He said it would be a mistake for the country to default on its debt while also calling for spending cuts. However, he is against the currently enacted sequestration cuts that mandated across-the-board spending cuts throughout the federal government. Himes and his Democratic colleagues have spoken out against those cuts, highlighting the impact they\u2019ve had on social services spending, and Debicella said the across-the-board mandate to cut made no sense. Instead, Debicella said he supports \u201cintelligent spending cuts\u201d such as the Penny Plan, where he says Congress can be required to cut federal spending 1% a year for the next four years but, instead of across-the-board cuts, Congress would be able to decide where to apply the reductions. Debicella said he believed this would lead to a needed debate about defense spending, farm subsidies, entitlement reform and other areas of government spending and result in bipartisan agreement. Social Security and Medicare reforms When it comes to Social Security and Medicare, Debicella said that he is in favor of reform, but not privatization. He stressed that they need different kind of reforms, with Social Security being the easier of the two. \u201cIf you look at Social Security you\u2019ll see that minor adjustments to the program now will keep it from going bankrupt in 2037 and we can save it,\u201d Debicella said. \u201cThese are changes," he continued, "like if you\u2019re making $200,000 and you\u2019re 70 years old, you shouldn\u2019t get full Social Security. There should be a sliding scale. You can re-index the increase from wages to prices, and that adds up over time.\u201d Medicare will be a more complex fix, Debicella said, due to the \u201cexploding costs\u201d that he claims healthcare reform has exacerbated. This has resulted, according to Debicella, in a system where doctors have an incentive to run expensive and unneeded tests, something he said he personally experienced recently when he went to the hospital to have muscle spasms checked and the doctor wanted to check him for a heart attack. He said Medicare and Medicaid will need to change the way they operate to move from the fee-for-service model to one that is more outcome-based, where physicians are not paid per test or service but to \u201cactually solve the problem.\u201d This ends up putting him in the same position that Himes has taken, which Debicella said proves there is common ground out there between the parties. \u201cThere needs to be common ground because the only way big things happen in Washington is when you get both parties to agree,\u201d Debicella said. \u201cThe last time we reformed Social Security it was a bipartisan agreement between Ronald Reagan and Tip O\u2019Neill. That\u2019s what we need right now and why, I think, people are sick of what they see in Washington. We need people who are actually willing to come together and solve these problems.\u201d Opposes Obamacare Debicella says work is needed on healthcare reform, more commonly known as Obamacare. Since taking over as House speaker in 2011, U.S. Rep. John Boehner has held 40 votes to repeal the law, all of them entirely ceremonial since the Democratic controlled Senate will not take up repeal. Debicella said if elected and a repeal vote was again put before the House, he would vote in favor of it but called the vote \u201cmeaningless\u201d because President Obama would veto it were it to get past the Senate. He said dialogue should instead focus on reform instead of repeal. \u201cWe have to talk about lowering healthcare costs,\u201d Debicella said. \u201cAs Republicans, the mistake we make is continuing to be \u2018the party of no.\u2019 We have to be the party of ideas again. We have ideas on how to lower healthcare costs and that\u2019s what we should be passing. \u201cI think Obamacare is going to fail next year as it rolls out,\u201d he said, \u201cand it will be much more expensive than predicted and people will be frustrated. But we shouldn\u2019t just be waiting for it to fail. Republicans need to have their own agenda to reduce healthcare costs.\u201d Among the ideas Debicella said need to be moved forward are a focus on preventive medicine with a \u201chealthy living tax credit\u201d to encourage people to participate, interstate competition between health insurance companies, malpractice reform, and reform to the health insurance mandates so that women don\u2019t have to cover premiums for prostate cancer screenings and men aren\u2019t paying premiums for mammograms, which he says is happening now. Immigration and gun control Debicella said he is in favor of the immigration reform package with a path to citizenship that has passed the Senate in a bipartisan fashion but has thus far been not been brought to the House floor by Republican leadership. He said it\u2019s an issue that goes beyond Republican or Democrat, involving \u201cwhat is fair.\u201d On guns, Debicella criticized new state gun control laws in Connecticut created in the wake of last December\u2019s Newtown school massacre, saying it was \u201cfar too restrictive\u201d because it \u201cgot to the point where it was parsing which guns were good and which guns were bad.\u201d He said that wouldn\u2019t solve the problem of gun violence, but he believed the federal legislation that Himes helped push for, including universal background checks and restrictions on the amount of ammunition in a clip, is \u201crational.\u201d \u201cWhen you look at Newtown you see that we have to keep guns out of the hands of people who are mentally unstable or criminals,\u201d Debicella said. \u201cBackground checks seems, to me, to be a very reasonable thing to do.\u201d Controversial vote could be focus An issue that became a source of contention in the 2010 campaign was Debicella\u2019s 2007 vote on SB 1343, The Compassionate Care for Victims of Sexual Assault Act. He was one of only a few state senators voting against a mandate from the state that required all hospitals, including ones associated with the Catholic church, to provide emergency contraception to rape victims. The issue could again be discussed in 2014. \u201cI have no doubt that it will be part of Jim Himes\u2019 strategy to make me seem like a radical right-winger,\u201d Debicella said. \u201cI am pro-choice,\u201d he said. \u201cI\u2019ve always been pro-choice. I\u2019m pro-stem cell research. I\u2019m pro-gay marriage. I am very, very liberal on a lot of social issues. What this is, is a vote that said Catholic hospitals are going to have to provide emergency contraception. I\u2019m a big believer in the separation of church and state. I don\u2019t want churches telling the government what to do and I don\u2019t think the government should be telling churches what to do. I don\u2019t think the government should force Catholic hospitals to perform abortions, but I\u2019m pro-choice.\u201d However, after a rape, immediate emergency contraception is often sought by women, including at Catholic hospitals. When asked about this, Debicella noted that Plan B emergency contraception can be purchased over the counter in local stores, meaning rape victims do not have to rely on the Catholic hospital for it. \u201cYou should be able to get it at your local drugstore,\u201d Debicella said. \u201cI just don\u2019t want to force a church that doesn\u2019t believe in it to give it out.\u201d Ken Borsuk is editor of the Greenwich Post, another Hersam Acorn Newspaper.