The extra effort being mounted by Democrats for Westport First Selectwoman Diane Goss Farrell in her race to unseat veteran Republican congressman Chris Shays has prompted Congressional Quarterly to change its re-election rating for Shays from “Safe Republican” to “Republican Favored.”
“Based on his past performances, Republican Rep. Christopher Shays looks pretty close to a sure thing as he seeks a 10th victory in Connecticut’s 4th District,” the respected Capitol Hill publication said in its updated assessment of the race.
“But there are not many vulnerable Republican incumbents nationally because of redistricting and other institutional factors.
“And Democratic strategists have sworn to broaden the playing field by challenging a number of seemingly entrenched GOP House members—one of whom is Shays.”
CQ said, “Democrats are placing their hopes on Diane Farrell, the first selectman of the city of Westport, contending that she could take down Shays because of her strong campaigning skills and fundraising ability.”
It added, “The extra effort the Democrats are putting into the race has spurred Congressional Quarterly to change its rating on the 4th District race to Republican Favored from Safe Republican.”
Greg Speed, a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokesman, touted Farrell’s strengths.
“She has a great deal of experience on her own as a local elected official, has a built in base and is a demonstrated vote-getter,” Speed told CQ.
“But Speed also argued that Shays is vulnerable in his own right, contending that the well-known GOP moderate has shifted to the right in recent years,” CQ said.
It said this put him “at risk in a southwestern Connecticut district in the New York City suburbs that gave a 10 percentage-point margin to the 2000 Democratic ticket of Al Gore for president and Connecticut Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman for vice president.”
“Shays has been voting more to the right, and the right-wing agenda is way out of step with the people living in the 4th District,” Speed said.
“There is a growing awareness in the district that Shays’ rhetoric as a moderate doesn’t jibe with his voting record.”
According to CQ’s study of party-line votes, Shays in 1998 voted with most House Republicans against most Democrats only 58 percent of the time. In 2002,
Shays voted with Republicans 80 percent of the time—although that still was far below the average for the mainly conservative House Republican Conference, CQ said