Political circles have been chattering about State Sen. John McKinney for quite some time now as a natural candidate for his father’s old seat in the Fourth Congressional District. After 2008’s election of Rep. Jim Himes, the speculation has grown louder as Fairfield County Republicans look to McKinney as the best chance to return the seat to their control.
For his part, Sen. McKinney has been coy, offering to Shelly Sindland that he was “thinking about” the opportunity way back in November and little else since – until now.
In a Mark Pazniokas piece from the New York Times from last Friday, Sen. McKinney playfully seems to suggest his current thinking on the matter:
At lunch a few weeks ago, State Senator John McKinney spotted State Representative Michael P. Lawlor approaching a bank of polished brass elevators in the Legislative Office Building, his smile widening as Mr. Lawlor drew close.
“Thank you for getting me every Catholic vote in the Fourth Congressional District,” teased Mr. McKinney, a Republican from Fairfield who is Episcopalian.
Sen. McKinney has had a difficult job as Republican Leader in the Senate – he’s led a caucus with no shortage of ambition, as the latest evidence suggests – and he has done it well. This experience positions him well for a Congressional bid in the Fourth. His announcement of candidacy would almost certainly make the race a toss up from the start.
Perhaps the only issue that remains to be answered is whether waiting until the conclusion of the Legislative Session, whenever that might be, will be enough time for Sen. McKinney to raise the funds necessary to compete.
Rep. Jim Himes will surely receive the full backing of the DCCC, the White House, and an array of Washington-based interest groups – worth perhaps $2 million in additional resources to the Himes’ effort. If he can combine that money with the nearly $3 million he raised in 2008, Mr. Himes could have a staggering $5 million to defend his seat.
With all that said, Sen. McKinney has a longstanding relationship with the district and a record of experience that money can’t buy. If he chooses to, he will easily be the nation’s top GOP Congressional challenger and a formidable challenger to Rep. Himes.