McKinney Adds to Speculation in Fourth

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.

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11 responses to “McKinney Adds to Speculation in Fourth

  1. Obviously the money would matter, but if the economy doesn’t improve… 2010 may be a repeat of 2006… another tidal wave.

    Himes will do his job, but unless he takes on a populist tone… his performance may have little bearing on the 2010 CT4 results.

    His liveblogs here and over at FDL didn’t leave me thinking that he was in any mood to challenge The Political Class.

  2. Himes won because of massive Democratic turnout in Bridgeport, Stamford and Norwalk. Without Obama at the top of the ticket pushing voters to the polls, he’ll be in for a tough time no matter who takes him on in 2010.

  3. I left it out of the post, but its a point well taken ebpie. Himes rode the Obama wave to victory. Without it, the Fourth is a very competitive district and McKinney fits it perfectly.

  4. I think it’s conventional wisdom in congressional politics that says the first race is not the most important – it’s the second. If you can win your first bid for re-election, the chances of you losing in the immediate future are not too high statiscally speaking. McKinney would be a tough opponent on name recognition alone. But, depending on what happens with the economy, I’d say the 4th CD would be the only district that might turn back to red in the near future. Everyone else seems pretty much safe.

  5. AndersonScooper

    Hey, you guys can try to give all the credit to Obama, but fact is Himes bested a 21yr incumbent who made a career out of distancing himself from his own party.

    And McKinney? He’d be nothing except for his daddy. And would Dad even recognize his son, who has been such a staunch Republican for years now? (I can’t envision Stewart McKinney voting against an inflationary adjustment to the minimum wage, can you?)

    Anyway, let’s hope it’s McKinney, who is rumored to be a lazy campaigner. Anybody but L. Scott Frantz.

  6. AndersonScooper

    Scanman–

    The 4th has trended more and more blue in the twenty-odd years since Shays won office. Just consider the contortions that Shays went through to remain palatable to the district over the years.

    In what way has McKinney ever played middle-of-the road? The guys has a voting record, and it’s pretty much straight party line.

  7. Himes won because of massive Democratic turnout in Bridgeport, Stamford and Norwalk. Without Obama at the top of the ticket pushing voters to the polls, he’ll be in for a tough time no matter who takes him on in 2010.

    True, but remember, we thought the same would be true of Courtney, who was pushed over the top by enthusiasm for Lamont in Storrs. You never know.

  8. True, but remember, we thought the same would be true of Courtney, who was pushed over the top by enthusiasm for Lamont in Storrs. You never know.

    Courtney also had a joke of an opponent in his first bid for re-election. McKinney would be a different story.

  9. Himes won because of massive Democratic turnout in Bridgeport, Stamford and Norwalk. Without Obama at the top of the ticket pushing voters to the polls, he’ll be in for a tough time no matter who takes him on in 2010.

    True, but remember, we thought the same would be true of Courtney, who was pushed over the top by enthusiasm for Lamont in Storrs. You never know.

    Actually, this is not true. Registration was up in those places, turnout was down.

  10. That’s an interesting suggestion GC. I’m not sure you can compare CT02 & CT04. I am sure you cannot compare CT02 & CT05 (I’ve tried).

    That said, Himes will be much tougher to beat than it might appear on paper. Despite the fact that Obama was a decisive factor this cycle, and without detracting from McKinney’s political positioning (Heath is right and Anderson wrong in this respect) taking on an incumbent Jim Himes is a fundamentally different animal than an unknown Jim Himes, with virtually no political base, taking on (taking out) a carefully calibrated incumbent Chris Shays.

    Himes, a man with much in common with much of what makes Fairfield County tick and incumbency on his side, is less vulnerable than he appears.

    Unless he takes it for granted, and he won’t.

    The skinny: one may get there via a different route, but as things stand here today, CT04 will be a race that junkies across the country will be watching.

    And then Himes will win.

  11. primusinterpares

    I left it out of the post, but its a point well taken ebpie. Himes rode the Obama wave to victory. Without it, the Fourth is a very competitive district and McKinney fits it perfectly.

    Agreed. Perhaps not due to turnout but due to swing votes certainly.

    The 4th has trended more and more blue in the twenty-odd years since Shays won office. Just consider the contortions that Shays went through to remain palatable to the district over the years.

    Well, make sure you also consider that the 4th district changed shape over those years also he wasn’t a 21 year incumbent to the entire district.

    In what way has McKinney ever played middle-of-the road? The guys has a voting record, and it’s pretty much straight party line.

    Keep in mind that straight party line in according to the CTGOP platform is significantly different than straight party line in Congress… he would be along the lines of Shays in this respect.

    Himes, a man with much in common with much of what makes Fairfield County tick and incumbency on his side, is less vulnerable than he appears.

    Himes is a New Yorker. He’s an investment banker who resigned and then went to work for a leadership in Washington that is trying to tax his own constituents at higher rates because they are “wealthy” despite the fact that they live in one of the highest cost of living areas in the nation. Making $250,000 a year sounds like a lot of money until you consider how much it costs to pay your mortgage in an area where people spend around 40% of their income on housing alone… then add the the income taxes etc. I’m not sure that some of those Fairfield County Obama swing voters will be as inclined to vote for Democrats after they see how their tax policies are effecting their pocket book and see Jim Himes doing nothing to remedy the situation.

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