Republicans have only one remaining House member from New England, and his race is extremely tight – making some wonder if the Republican Party will have any representation in a region they once dominated.
Rep. Christopher Shays of Connecticut, who took office in 1987, is in a dead heat with his Democratic opponent, Jim Himes. A new poll by the University of Connecticut found that Shays and Himes, a former Wall Street executive, each have 44 percent of the vote.
Shays, who represents a largely affluent House district including a number of New York City suburbs, is facing difficulties because of changing demographics and the current anti-Bush feeling prevalent in the Northeast.
Shays, however, has been an ardent supporter of strong national defense and a fighter in the war on terror.
He backs U.S. efforts in the war in terror. Shays has been to Iraq 14 times since the war began, more than any other U.S. legislator. He was also a prominent supporter of a tough anti-terror bill that came before Congress in 2004.
Connecticut’s independent Democrat Senator Joe Lieberman has crossed party lines to back Shays.
He called Shays “a very close friend” in July, saying: “I think he’s a great person and a great congressman.”
Shays has gotten a slew of endorsements. Recently New York mayor Mike Bloomberg announced his support.
Eleven centrist House Republicans lost or retired in 2006 and another 11 are retiring this year, according to the Journal.
Connecticut’s other four House members are Democrats, as are all 17 of the members from Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire.
Shays joked about a GOP “shutout” in New England: “How can you say you’re a Democrat and you’re for endangered species, and then go after the last Republican in New England?”
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