September 19, 2004: Headlines: COS - Fiji: Politics: Election2004 - Shays: Hartford Courant: Diane Farrell, 50, faces the tricky challenge of deciding which Christopher Shays to oppose. The man presents many faces to the world

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Fiji: Special Report: Former Congressman Chris Shays: RPCV Congressman Chris Shays: Archived Stories: September 19, 2004: Headlines: COS - Fiji: Politics: Election2004 - Shays: Hartford Courant: Diane Farrell, 50, faces the tricky challenge of deciding which Christopher Shays to oppose. The man presents many faces to the world

By Admin1 (admin) ( on Saturday, October 02, 2004 - 3:17 pm: Edit Post

Diane Farrell, 50, faces the tricky challenge of deciding which Christopher Shays to oppose. The man presents many faces to the world

Diane Farrell, 50, faces the tricky challenge of deciding which Christopher Shays to oppose. The man presents many faces to the world

Diane Farrell, 50, faces the tricky challenge of deciding which Christopher Shays to oppose. The man presents many faces to the world

Fund-raising from Al Kut
September 19, 2004

The new television season is a lot like politics in the fall. New shows are launched with great enthusiasm and high hopes. Industry flacks build them up, reviewers look them over, and viewers begin to decide. The political show with the most promise to become a hit this election season in Connecticut is the Diane Farrell for Congress campaign.

The Westport Democrat is running against nine-term Republican Rep. Christopher Shays in the 4th District, encompassing tony Fairfield County. Farrell is a serious candidate mounting a formidable campaign against an incumbent. That does not happen often in American politics anymore. Whatever the result in November, Farrell gets a salute from all who want a vigorous democracy.

Farrell, 50, faces the tricky challenge of deciding which Christopher Shays to oppose. The man presents many faces to the world.

Shays as chairman of the Subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threats and International Relations was one of the few members of Congress mentioned in the 9/11 report for taking the threat of terrorism seriously before the nation was attacked three years ago. The report notes that his subcommittee, part of the Committee on Government Reform, held 12 hearings on the threat of terrorism. Shays will counter that reputation for sober thought by making a nutty pronouncement like he did last December when he warned people not to go to New York on New Year's Eve. During the Clinton impeachment, C-Span covered Shays' district meeting on how to vote. Hours of public hand-wringing accompanied the outpouring of public testimony. Shays looked to be enjoying the spectacle.

On the other hand, Shays stepped forward this past winter and put important distance between the Republican Party and a sinking John Rowland. The congressman was sharp and decisive when he stripped the bark off his former colleague, providing shelter to Republicans nervous about the exploding scandal.

The 58-year-old congressman was one of the leading forces in changing the federal campaign finance system. Under the guise of getting money out of politics, he birthed a fiasco. Money, which always finds its way in politics, now flows into the hands of murky new organizations like Swift Boat Veterans for Truth and Americans Coming Together. Now, within 60 days of the election, certain organizations are precluded, for the first time in our nation's history, from mentioning candidates' names. Nevertheless, he wears the sacred mantle of reform.

On military matters, Shays has a complicated history. He voted to send American troops to Kuwait in 1991 and Iraq in 2003. He was a conscientious objector during the Vietnam War and spent two years of it posted to Bali as a member of the Peace Corps.

Shays, whose fund-raising prowess has not been tested in nearly 20 years, needs money for this campaign, and a lot of it. Farrell is chugging toward $1 million, a benchmark that always impresses Connecticut political participants and observers. She recently got a boost from Emily's List, the Democratic fund-raising powerhouse that tells an army of donors which pro-choice Democratic women have the best chance of winning an election.

One million dollars is about the amount Shays has raised in his last couple of leisurely campaigns. The great finance reformer, however, has had money on his mind for months, even before Farrell broke out of the pack of challengers around the nation to become someone to watch.

Shays has been to Iraq six times in the past 18 months. At least one of his trips included a harrowing arrival at the airport in Baghdad, a Shiite wedding, a visit to a school with "precious kids" attending it, and a gunshot in the street. None of that kept the gentleman's mind from the task at hand: raising money for his re-election.

In the crass world of direct mail fund-raising, Christopher Shays has joined the ranks of the most craven. He told The Courant recently, "I would not want to run against me." I can see why.

Shays sent a letter dated March 22, 2004, dateline Al Kut, Iraq. "It's three-thirty in the morning, and I've been sitting in bed wide-awake reading and thinking. The political season at home is beginning, but as chairman of the National Security Subcommittee, I have work to do." Yes indeed. What follows is a recitation of the dangers and sites of Iraq, a paean to our troops and the birth of hope in that tortured land, a review of his experience in Congress, a wringing of his hands over transportation in jammed Fairfield County, and a mention of the early morning beauty of the Muslim call to worship.

Then there is the crucial P.S.: Shays needs money if he is going to fight the War on Terrorism and protect our homeland. An envelope for the check is included. It's addressed not to Al Kut, but to campaign headquarters in serene Norwalk. Ick, the letter should come with a Handi Wipe.

Shays wasn't in Iraq when the missive was sent in March. He includes a jaunty notation that "This letter was written in Al Kut Iraq very early in the morning on December 5 /03." He had plenty of time to ponder its contents and put it into the direct mail formula of: 1) I'm important, 2) Let me tug at your heartstrings, 3) I've accomplished so much, 4) You would suffer if I lost, and 5) Send money. My, that Christopher Shays knows how to stay on message even when the bullets are flying. The plea, according to Shays campaign manager Michael Sohn, was a winner, "It did a lot better than our average letter." There's a job for Shays at the Jerry Lewis Telethon or QVC if this campaign goes wrong.

But it is unlikely to go wrong. While Farrell is a splendid candidate, her political experience has not taken her much beyond Westport. Reapportionment added Republican towns to the district. The Democratic advantage in a presidential year that usually costs Shays 7 or 8 percentage points will not be as great this year as it was with the Clinton landslide of 1996 and the inclusion of Connecticut Sen. Joseph Lieberman, a Stamford native, on the ticket in 2000. Those were epic Democratic sweeps in Connecticut. John Kerry will likely win the state by far less, and maybe not carry the 4th Congressional District.

Also, a sad fact of politics today: $1 million in Fairfield County is not much. It's not going to buy a big house and it won't get a candidate the kind of media exposure a challenger needs to tip over a popular incumbent. The cost of buying time on New York media is many times what it is in Connecticut. When Reps. Nancy Johnson and James Maloney faced off in 2002, both incumbents in a consolidated congressional district that runs from central to western Connecticut, they together spent nearly $6 million. Johnson outraised her Democratic opponent by almost a 2-1 ratio.

The Republican leadership in Congress would probably not feel a twinge of regret if they maintained their majority this year without the voters returning the quixotic Shays for another term. But 17 years of constituent service and a nose for the high profile make Shays a heavy favorite. He has a loyal cadre of volunteers around the district. When he's not in Iraq, he shows up at more local events than most incumbents who've been in the game for 17 years. And now he knows what it feels like to have a race that is making him nervous. And that does not happen often enough.

Kevin Rennie of South Windsor is a lawyer and former Republican state lawmaker. He can be reached at KFRennie@


When this story was posted in October 2004, this was on the front page of PCOL:

Director Gaddi Vasquez:  The PCOL Interview Director Gaddi Vasquez: The PCOL Interview
PCOL sits down for an extended interview with Peace Corps Director Gaddi Vasquez. Read the entire interview from start to finish and we promise you will learn something about the Peace Corps you didn't know before.

Plus the debate continues over Safety and Security.
Schwarzenegger praises PC at Convention Schwarzenegger praises PC at Convention
Governor Schwarzenegger praised the Peace Corps at the Republican National Convention: "We're the America that sends out Peace Corps volunteers to teach village children." Schwarzenegger has previously acknowledged his debt to his father-in-law, Peace Corps Founding Director Sargent Shriver, for teaching him "the joy of public service" and Arnold is encouraging volunteerism by creating California Service Corps and tapping his wife, Maria Shriver, to lead it. Leave your comments and who can come up with the best Current Events Funny?
 Peace Corps: One of the Best Faces of America Peace Corps: One of the Best Faces of America
Teresa Heinz Kerry celebrates the Peace Corps Volunteer as one of the best faces America has ever projected in a speech to the Democratic Convention. The National Review disagreed and said that Heinz's celebration of the PCV was "truly offensive." What's your opinion and can you come up with a Political Funny?

Read the stories and leave your comments.

Some postings on Peace Corps Online are provided to the individual members of this group without permission of the copyright owner for the non-profit purposes of criticism, comment, education, scholarship, and research under the "Fair Use" provisions of U.S. Government copyright laws and they may not be distributed further without permission of the copyright owner. Peace Corps Online does not vouch for the accuracy of the content of the postings, which is the sole responsibility of the copyright holder.

Story Source: Hartford Courant

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Fiji; Politics; Election2004 - Shays



Add a Message

This is a public posting area. Enter your username and password if you have an account. Otherwise, enter your full name as your username and leave the password blank. Your e-mail address is optional.