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We're off to the races in Connecticut, with one red-hot House race in the Fourth District, and two solid freshman Dems looking to consolidate their support in the Second and Fifth Districts. The GOP has nominated their slate of candidates, and are ready to start the official campaign.

CT-02: Democrat "Landslide Joe" Courtney won election last year in one of the narrowest races in the country. Courtney edged Republican Rob Simmons by just 83 votes, a margin which is actually not unusual for the district. Former Representative Sam Gejdenson won reelection in 1994 by just 21 votes, and lost his seat to Simmons in 2002 by under 2,000 votes.

Courtney is a solid Democrat on national issues, and an outspoken opponent of the Iraq War. The district leans strongly Democratic at the presidential level (Gore won it by 14 points, and Kerry by 10), but it has placed a heavy emphasis in recent years on electing Representatives with the ability to deliver for the district, most particularly with regard to the submarine manufacturing base in Groton. The sub base is the district's largest employer, and Gejdenson lost in 2000 amid rumors of the base closing.

With the prominence of the submarine base in mind, the GOP recruited the former base commander, Captain Sean Sullivan, as their candidate. While this sounded promising for the Republicans initially (as much as any candidate would in a D+7.6 district in a Democratic year), the highly touted Sullivan has proven to be a fundraising dud. He has just over $100K on hand (and that number isn't increasing very quickly, as he pulled in a grand total of $3,000 in three weeks in April).

Courtney, meanwhile, has over $1.2 million on hand to go with a fine record for his first term in Congress. Rob Simmons had some nice words for our man Joe:

Former Republican Rep. Rob Simmons, who in 2006 lost narrowly to Courtney, the one-time Vernon town attorney, belittled his former opponent.

"If John McCain becomes the next president, who do you think he'll turn to for advice in Congress?" he asked Republicans gathered in Willimantic. "A town attorney from Vernon or a decorated Navy captain with more than 20 years of distinguished service?"

Yeah, well...that ain't happening.

CT-04: For the third year in a row, CT-04 is shaping up to be one of the hottest races in the country. Republican incumbent Christopher Shays, who narrowly won reelection with 52% in both 2004 and 2006, is the last Republican Representative from New England left in Congress. After spirited challenges the last two cycles from Diane Farrell, Shays is now challenger by Democrat Jim Himes.

Himes, 41, is a former Goldman Sachs vice president and Rhodes Scholar. He has proven to be a terrific fundraiser, with over $1.1 million cash-on-hand as of last filing. By comparison, 20-year incumbent Shays has roughly $30,000 more in the bank than Himes. Himes is also an early addition to the DCCC's Red to Blue list.

Shays has a long-standing reputation as a moderate, and he's certainly proven to be a survivor in this Democratic-leaning Bridgeport-based district. The Fourth was Lieberman country in 2006, which may well have helped Shays win reelection that year. Still, Himes is a truly formidable candidate, and even after the close calls of the last two cycles, Shays may yet be in for the race of his life.

CT-05: By PVI, the Fifth is Connecticut's least Democratic district (D+3.7). Republican Nancy Johnson represented the area for 24 years until 2006, when she was defeated by Democrat Chris Murphy.

Murphy, 34, has had a remarkable record of political success, particularly for such a young guy. Fresh out of college at 22, he managed the campaign of Democrat Charlotte Koskoff, who ran against Johnson in 1996 and came within one point of unseating her. After graduating from law school, Murphy then defeated a 14-year incumbent to win a seat in the State House, then captured a Republican-held seat in the State Senate before defeating Johnson quite badly in 2006, winning by 12 points after  a series of nasty attacks by the Johnson campaign. Since his election, Murphy has proven to be a popular Congressman and an excellent fundraiser, currently sitting on a $1.5 million war chest.

The Republicans hope to take this seat back with State Senator David Cappiello, who has been forced to run away from his unpopular president in this Dem-leaning district. Needless to say, that hasn't gone over especially well with his based (though he and Bush appear to be getting on fine, as Bush held a fundraiser for Cappiello at Henry Kissinger's house a few weeks ago).

It appears that the line of attack will be to paint Murphy as a DC insider who is soft on terrorism-indeed, it appears that that is already what they're doing. As DemFromCT notes, however, it's unlikely to work:

This is a winning strategery for McCain and Republicans... why? It's not 2002 any more. The inept Republican fear campaign played badly for Nancy Johnson in 2006 and Rudy Giuliani in 2008. Why would it work better now?

Alas, it's going to take a Democratic win in November to purge the system of the idea that Republican fear and smear still work. Chalk that up to yet another reason to vote Democratic.

Hear, hear.

The Republicans are dreaming big about CT-05, but I don't think this is the year they're going to stop Chris Murphy's meteoric rise.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Mon May 12, 2008 at 05:35 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  This is not the year... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Meteor Blades, clammyc

    Republicans are going to stop pretty much any Democrat, meteoric rise or not.

    Let them waste their money.

  •  So McCain looks down on small town Americans? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ek hornbeck, brownsox

    Good to know.  Thanks, former Rep. Simmons.  

    Imagine if the government took David's sling away and gave it to Goliath. Now you understand tort reform.

    by bosdcla14 on Mon May 12, 2008 at 05:38:03 PM PDT

  •  Any hints on Murphy's future plans? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    We'll need a good candidate for CT Governor in two years, and it sounds like he might just fit the bill.

  •  WTH Harold Ford and Shays / Himes ? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Phil S 33

    Can someone please explain why on earth Harold Ford seems to make it so much harder for Himes, a great candidate, by almost endorsing Shays by calling him one of the best congressmen? WHAT IS UP???  

  •  Chris Shays and Bush at the State of the Union (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sprinkles, Phil S 33

    Here we are now Entertain us I feel stupid and contagious

    by Scarce on Mon May 12, 2008 at 05:46:40 PM PDT

  •  He's not in my district, but what little money I (0+ / 0-)

    have contribute will go to defeat Chris Shays!!

    He is a liar no different than Holy Joe---says one thing before elections; and another afterward.
    True Rethug scum.

  •  I think you mean 3rd cycle in a row ... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Phil S 33

    And if any of y'all want on the ground news for all 3 races, head on over to

  •  Chris Murphy for Senate in 2012 (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    To kick out Joementum.

    Pragmatic progressivism is the future.

    by Pragmaticus on Mon May 12, 2008 at 05:49:16 PM PDT

  •  Jim Himes & Friend (5+ / 0-)

    Image Hosted by

    (Ned Lamont seen in the background.)

    Here we are now Entertain us I feel stupid and contagious

    by Scarce on Mon May 12, 2008 at 05:50:31 PM PDT

  •  Shays will be trapped in the Dem wave this year (0+ / 0-)

    And any place in the U.S. that can be referred to as "Leiberman Country" should be forced into secession.

    Sharks will save the Earth from climate change. Sharkwater

    by trmasonic on Mon May 12, 2008 at 05:51:52 PM PDT

  •  The Gang's All Here (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sprinkles, mcfly, FenderT206, brownsox

    Image Hosted by
    (Left to Right): Rep. Chris Murphy, Jim Himes, Rep. Rosa DeLauro, Rep. Joe Courtney, Rep. John Larson

    Here we are now Entertain us I feel stupid and contagious

    by Scarce on Mon May 12, 2008 at 05:52:56 PM PDT

  •  It would be so nice to have Shays removed (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Himes looks like the guy to do it - and the DCCC interested early is a good sign.

  •  Jim Himes is a great candidate (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sprinkles, Scarce, brownsox

     We had the opportunity to interview him on BlogTalkRadio recently, and I was very impressed with his handle on the issues facing his district - it covers a lot of area and many different industries as well.

  •  Chris Shays & Friend (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sprinkles, FenderT206

    Image Hosted by

    And no, not photo-shopped. A few weeks ago Shays caught a ride back to CT aboard Air Force One.

    Here we are now Entertain us I feel stupid and contagious

    by Scarce on Mon May 12, 2008 at 05:59:30 PM PDT

  •  Wow... (0+ / 0-)

    ...little did I know that in 1996, when Koskoff was running, I was working for that guy. UAW was out in force for Koskoff, I was in New Britain at the time.

    We got so creamed in CT-06 :(

    Want superdelegates who listen? Rita Moran for DNC. We need your support!

    by Eddie in ME on Mon May 12, 2008 at 06:02:21 PM PDT

  •  Some pictures from tonight's CT-04 (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Jim Himes with a delegate:

    Jim's wife with Beryl Kaufman of CACLD:

    Don Carlson of Greenwich:

    Ed Anderson (famous on Firedoglake) and Ned Lamont discussing important things:

    George Jepsen and Himes preparing to get things started:

    Susan Bysewicz, Secretary of State and enabler of Lieberman:

  •  Oh, that's priceless! (0+ / 0-)

    It took me a moment to realize just how amusing this bit was:

    "If John McCain becomes the next president, who do you think he'll turn to for advice in Congress?"

    "And speaking of 'ifs,'" he added, "if I could have anything in the world, I'd have my very own pony!"

    (-4.88, -3.74) Treat everyone as they deserve - and who doesn't deserve a whipping?! -Hamlet 2:2

    by pakaal on Mon May 12, 2008 at 06:18:11 PM PDT

  •  Lengthy CT-04 Comment (4+ / 0-)

    It's been a shame to see Chris Shays' metamorphosis over the years, but for the most part his principal identification with the administration has been on the war and homeland security issues, while remaining semi-independent on others.  

    Unfortunately, those are the ones that matter, and given that Shays

    1. is too moderate to be acceptable to the core of the GOP anyway (despite the fact that Fairfield County is about the last bastion of old style Rockefeller Republicanism left in America and will have nothing to do with the hard-right variety--Shays replaced Liberal Republican The Blessed Stew McKinney and was widely viewed to be McKinney light for his first several terms.);
    1. has come damn near losing (2006: 51-48, 2004: 52-48, after only once scoring below 60% and often over 70% in his runs since 1988)  even when his party wasn't running for the exits like a bunch of future chicken hawks from their local draft boards circa '68;  
    1. is on the wrong side of the one issue that matters, The War

    so that one can see him getting attacked from the left and ignored by the right (the way the RNC decided to desert TRUE maverick Lowell Weicker in 1988, showing then as now that the GOP hearts Joe Lieberman), in addition to which Jim Himes is an awfully appealing candidate, especially for this district.  

    In other words, put your money on a loss for 10 term moderate Republican from a district that has no love for the hard right.

  •  With all due respect (0+ / 0-)

    "Alas, it's going to take a Democratic win in November to purge the system of the idea that Republican fear and smear still work. Chalk that up to yet another reason to vote Democratic."

    All the Democratic wins, and all the money Democrats have raised, and all the money Republicans have not raised, ... they've translated to more of the same.

    Republican fear and smear is going to stop when individual Republicans decide they want to campaign differently. The leadership has been based on lies and deception for at least 10 years. That kind of thinking has permeated the minds ofthe base to the point where it is how they plan.

    Hate isn't easy to stop using, and its slimy residue is often impossible to completely remove from things it's touched.

    It won't stop because the usual suspects stop using it. It will stop because new Republicans won't use it.

    But I don't expect those new Republicans for at least five to 10 years. And there won't be many, if today's high school demographic says anything about the party's youth future.

  •  It is so nice to read a candidate Diary ... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Zack from the SFV

    ...without any vitriol (from the Democrats).

    Like a cyclone, imperialism spins across the globe; militarism crushes peoples and sucks their blood like a vampire. K. Liebknecht

    by Meteor Blades on Mon May 12, 2008 at 06:29:24 PM PDT

  •  Chris Shays and the RNC put out a series of (0+ / 0-)

    robocalls mid-October.  They were placed at 5:30 in the morning and insinuated that they were from Diane Farrell.  Not until the end of the call was the recipient told it was an RNC call.  Of course, most had already hung up.  Nasty tactics, those repubs.....

    Another weird thing about the 2006 CT-4 race:  I had some environmentalists telling me they were going to vote for Shays based on his environmental record....  

    After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music. - Aldous Huxley

    by Throwing Stones on Mon May 12, 2008 at 06:31:32 PM PDT

  •  EXTERMINATE! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Let's drive the scum from all of New England. S. Collins and J. Sununu, that includes you!

    Support democracy at home and abroad, join the ACLU & Amnesty International and Your voice is needed!

    by tnichlsn on Mon May 12, 2008 at 06:31:35 PM PDT

    •  that's a nice picture (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      all blue New England!  Now, if we can just get rid of Jodi Rell in CT...

      I'm not a member of an organized political party, I'm a Democrat - Will Rogers

      by newjeffct on Mon May 12, 2008 at 07:07:10 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I guess I was being overly optimistic, Snowe (0+ / 0-)

        isn't up for another 2 years I guess, then her time will come as well... I would hope all of CT has learned from their Smokin' Joe debacle that if it smells like a republican you need to vote against it no matter which column it's in!!!

        Support democracy at home and abroad, join the ACLU & Amnesty International and Your voice is needed!

        by tnichlsn on Mon May 12, 2008 at 11:02:08 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks - great post (0+ / 0-)

    As a CT resident, I hadn't heard too much about who was challenging Courtney.

    I'm not a member of an organized political party, I'm a Democrat - Will Rogers

    by newjeffct on Mon May 12, 2008 at 07:03:06 PM PDT

  •  I went to law school with Sean Sullivan. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FenderT206, brownsox

    He's an impressive, personable guy who stayed firmly at the top of his class while running a naval base.

    I wish he were on my side of the aisle.  But he's not, so I'd rather enjoy his company close to home.

    "Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we."-GWB

    by BTP on Mon May 12, 2008 at 07:22:09 PM PDT

  •  I was a delegate (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    at Joe Courtney's nominating convention just a few hours ago. The guy - always a comfortable public speaker - just keeps getting better and better. His story tonight of the 67 year old woman turned away from the free dental clinic in his district a month ago was moving. She was turned away why? Because with little or no advertising and 180 dentists and dental assistants giving a one time free clinic all day, they just had too many patients, they had to turn many away. And this is in Connecticut! Asked what she would do about her toothache, she said she would go home and pray. Joe said, this is America, we need to get off our knees about health care! WE can - and should! - take care of ourselves and our own, not leave it to god. It was a powerful moment for me.

    I refuse to let my pragmatism get in the way of my idealism.

    by JohnMac on Mon May 12, 2008 at 08:17:47 PM PDT

  •  Capt. Simmons is an Outlier (0+ / 0-)

    I know several submarine commanders; none of them are asshats.  This leads me to suspect that the good captain might be the proverbial bad apple in the barrel.

    That is all.

    The White Race can not survive without dairy products - Herbert Hoover (-8.75,-8.36)

    by alain2112 on Tue May 13, 2008 at 04:13:14 AM PDT

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