October 26, 2004
NY Times, The Advocate of Stamford Endorse Shays
The New York Times and The Advocate of Stamford today endorsed incumbent Republican Rep. Christopher Shays over Democratic challenger Westport First Selectwoman Diane G. Farrell.
The Times endorsement came in an editorial that also backed Democratic Sen. Christopher Dodd for re-election, although with some criticism, and, in the 2nd District, favored Democratic challenger Jim Sullivan over incumbent Republican Rep. Rob Simmons.
The text of the Times editorial on the Shays-Farrell race:
Representative Christopher Shays, the veteran Fairfield County Republican, faces the challenge of his political life from Diane Farrell, Westport's first selectwoman. Ms. Farrell says that on important issues, Mr. Shays is in lock step with the G.O.P. agenda.
On that count she's wrong: his record reflects a rare thoughtfulness and considerable independence.
Anyone who disagrees with the Bush administration -- particularly on its policy in Iraq -- is going to be tempted to vent that anger on Mr. Shays, who backed the invasion. But we can't forget the many services Mr. Shays has done in his years in Washington, particularly his championing of campaign finance reform.
People like Senator John McCain would never have gotten legislation through Congress if Mr. Shays had not had the determination, and the political courage, to fight to fix the system.
Legislators with the fearlessness and principles of Mr. Shays aren't easy to come by. Although Ms. Farrell is a strong candidate with a bright future, neither the district nor the nation can afford to lose Chris Shays. We endorse him for re-election.
The text of The Advocate editorial:
In considering whether to re-elect Republican Christopher Shays, voters in Connecticut's 4th Congressional District need to confront two basic issues. One is whether the 17-year incumbent from Bridgeport is representing constituents' interests.
The other is whether Mr. Shays' brand of independent politics is so outside the conservative Republican mainstream in Washington, D.C., that it has become irrelevant.
The conclusions are complicated. The champion of campaign finance reform continues to represent the will of the majority in southwestern Connecticut on most social and environmental issues.
But his vigorous support of the Iraq war is a concern. Mr. Shays' votes for tax cuts during a time of national emergency also are at odds with his reputation as a fiscal conservative, known for his support of balanced federal budgets. Now, the budget deficit is at an all-time high.
Diane Farrell, the Democratic first selectwoman from Westport, is a credible alternative. She would be a progressive voice in Washington, D.C., on social issues and a moderate on fiscal matters.
Energetic, engaging and smart, she would devote herself to local concerns, especially transportation. Ms. Farrell would work hard for increased funding for mass transit.
Constituents ought to be concerned that eastern Connecticut received millions more in transportation funding than our area this year, when problems here are worse.
Ms. Farrell also appears to have a sensible tax policy that would favor the district as a whole: relief for all but the very richest Americans.
But this race, like many in our region lately, comes down to the need for independence from party in the face of what could be extraordinary political pressure. This is one reason why Mr. Shays should be re-elected.
Sen. John McCain of Arizona has noted that being independent in Washington, D.C., these days is a lonely job. But independent thinking in the Republican Party still is an essential part of the political balancing act.
We don't buy the overdone assertions that Mr. Shays has become a puppet of Tom DeLay, the extremist Republican majority leader in the U.S. House. It is one of the few false notes Ms. Farrell has hit in her campaign, and it is too much politics as usual.
Mr. Shays is one of the few Republicans to support strong gun control and a comprehensive federal energy policy to wean us from foreign oil. He supports a 1-cent-per-gallon increase in the gasoline tax to pay for transportation improvements in Connecticut -- one of the few politicians in either party to do so.
Mr. Shays also opposes a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage -- again, in opposition to most of his party. He was a voice in the wilderness about international terrorism.
Long before Sept. 11, 2001, he told members of this editorial board and other people that terrorists were targeting this country. The United States might be in another place altogether -- if only someone in Washington, D.C., had listened to him.
That seems to be the story of Mr. Shays' life. He travels to Iraq on his own because he says government-sanctioned trips are sanitized and don't provide enough opportunities to meet with ordinary Iraqis and absorb their culture.
Those trips have convinced him that U.S. involvement in Iraq not only is essential but overdue. The chairman of the Subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threats and International Relations, Mr. Shays probably knows more than the president does about what is happening on the ground in Iraq.
But his president and party rarely acknowledge his contributions in public, and he practically has to beg for 20 minutes alone with President Bush to share his findings.
Perhaps that is because Mr. Shays was one of the few Republicans to vote against the impeachment of former President Clinton, or to take on political fund raising through a signature landmark campaign finance reform bill.
He was the first congressman to call for Gov. John Rowland's resignation and has been outspoken about corruption in Bridgeport, in contrast to Ms. Farrell's relative silence.
We don't agree with Mr. Shays' support for America's entry into Iraq or the tax cuts that endanger our financial future. But we believe that he remains Mr. Outside in Washington, D.C.
Mr. Shays might have a higher profile on American foreign policy or campaign finance in a think-tank or as a talking head on late-night television. But we think he belongs in Congress for another two years, where he can add a moderate's balance.Posted October 26, 2004 05:34 AM | TrackBack