July 2, 2004: Headlines: COS - Fiji: Politics Congress: Election2004 - Shays: Stamford Advocate: Shays kicks off re-election campaign in Stamford

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Fiji: Special Report: Former Congressman Chris Shays: RPCV Congressman Chris Shays: Archived Stories: July 2, 2004: Headlines: COS - Fiji: Politics Congress: Election2004 - Shays: Stamford Advocate: Shays kicks off re-election campaign in Stamford
RPCV Chris Shays to be named CIA Director? RPCV Chris Shays to be named CIA Director?
The Washington Post is reporting that Fiji RPCV and Congressman Chris Shays is on Bush's short list to run the Central Intelligence Agency. "The likelihood of their choosing me, I think, is fairly remote," Shays said but added that he would consider the job if it were offered. Meanwhile Shays is in a competitive race for his seat in Connecticut. What do you think?

By Admin1 (admin) (pool-141-157-22-73.balt.east.verizon.net - on Saturday, July 03, 2004 - 11:24 pm: Edit Post

Shays kicks off re-election campaign in Stamford

Shays kicks off re-election campaign in Stamford

Shays kicks off re-election campaign in Stamford

Shays kicks off re-election campaign in Stamford

By Louis Porter
Staff Writer

July 2, 2004

STAMFORD -- U.S. Rep. Christopher Shays, R-Bridgeport, began his re-election campaign yesterday at Corelli's Pastry Shop on the West Side of Stamford, a city he said he must win to retain his seat.

"Leading requires that I speak the truth to you and your neighbors," said Shays, who formerly lived in Stamford and represented the city in the State House of Representatives.

"Thank you for your guidance, thank you for your criticism and thank you for your love and affection," Shays told the crowd of Republicans at the bakery.

The fact that Shays, a Republican, is running against Westport First Selectwoman Diane Farrell, a Democrat, is no surprise. Shays was nominated unanimously by his party in May.

But this election, the first since the U.S.-led war in Iraq, promises to be tougher than Shays' past re-election bids.

The November vote in what he calls "a divided country," may be more a referendum on Shays' continuing support of that war and President Bush than it is about any other issue, Democrats and Republicans said.

Shays agreed that many voters supported the war in Iraq because they believed weapons of mass destruction would be found in the country. Congress and the president bear responsibility for that belief, he said.

"I think we are all to blame for that belief, but we did believe it," he said. "We had every reason to believe it."

Bill Clinton and the Central Intelligence Agency also believed it, Shays said.

During a Westport town meeting before the war began, Shays said that if weapons of mass destruction were not found in Iraq during the war, he and others would be in political trouble.

They weren't found -- at least not yet -- and he may be in trouble, Shays said yesterday.

"I think that may have cost us some of our credibility," he said.

At the same time, invading Iraq and ousting dictator Saddam Hussein, whose trial in Iraq began yesterday, was the right decision and has paid dividends in the willingness of other authoritarian governments to negotiate with the United States, Shays said.

Donna Loglisci, Stamford city and town clerk and a former Shays campaign manager, said that many may see this fall's election as a vote for or against Bush as much as a vote for or against Shays.

"I think some people have seen Chris as not so much in the middle as aligning himself with the administration," she said. One thing about Shays is that "he believes what he is doing," she said.

The 4th Congressional District race may be the most interesting in the country this year, Loglisci said.

Jack Halpert, a Stamford Republican who attended Shays' campaign stop, said that Shays' experience will convince voters to support him.

"It is going to be a tough race," he said. "I think it is going to hinge on Iraq."

Running at the same time that Bush is up for re-election would appear to be a disadvantage, Shays said.

"Right now, the president is not doing well in the 4th District," Shays said.

In an interview, Farrell said yesterday that Shays should be tied to Bush in voters' minds.

"I think it is a big deal," she said. In his recent years in Congress, Shays has tended to vote more in accord with the rest of the Republicans, and has supported Bush in the votes on the most important issues, she said.

"I think people have serious concerns about the direction of the national agenda," Farrell said.

Shays said his political leanings have not changed substantially. The nonpartisan National Journal has consistently listed him about in the middle of the spectrum from liberal to conservative, he points out.

Shays said he has voted 78 percent with his party and 67 percent with Bush.

"My political views and positions are very compatible with the district," he said.

But Farrell said Shays helps maintain a Republican majority in Congress, even if he doesn't agree with the GOP leadership on every issue.

For instance, Shays supports stem-cell research, alternative fuels and conservation and abortion rights. "As long as Chris remains in the House of Representatives, he supports a majority that will make sure stem-cell research never comes to pass," she said. "He isn't going to be able to effectively move the agenda forward."

William Wrenn of Norwalk, a former Democratic Norwalk Common Council member and long-standing opponent of the war in Iraq, said that it may be the most important issue in the country this year.

"He should at least admit that he is wrong," Wrenn said. "The country has paid a very high price."

The country has lost not only the servicemen and women killed, but also the $200 billion the war has cost, Wrenn said.

"That is money that could have been used for schools or to offset the high property taxes we pay around here," he said.

Farrell, who serves on several transportation and planning groups in the state, also has argued that Shays should have done more to secure federal funding for transportation issues.

"I believe I can do a better job on transportation. For one thing, it will be a priority for me," she said.

Shays said yesterday that a lot of federal money already comes to Connecticut.

"The federal government is spending more on transportation in the Connecticut than Connecticut is," he said. "The state government must find a way to contribute its share."

At the same time, some things must change, he said. For instance, nationally, 40 percent of freight traffic moves by rail, but that figure is only 3 percent in Connecticut, Shays said.

Shays said Stamford is crucial to his re-election, which he said will be tough.

Shays, a Darien native, represented Stamford in the state House before being elected to Congress in a special election in 1987. He completed the term of Stewart McKinney, who died while in office.

Michael Pansini, a longtime active Republican in the city, agreed that Stamford is key for Shays this year.

"Because it is going to be a close race, it is very important, especially in North Stamford, to get the vote out," he said.

Copyright © 2004, Southern Connecticut Newspapers, Inc.

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Story Source: Stamford Advocate

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