November 23, 2005: Headlines: Figures: COS - Fiji: Politics: Congress: Westport Minuteman: Farrell now free to focus on defeating Shays in Fourth District

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Fiji: Special Report: Former Congressman Chris Shays: RPCV Congressman Chris Shays: Archived Stories: November 23, 2005: Headlines: Figures: COS - Fiji: Politics: Congress: Westport Minuteman: Farrell now free to focus on defeating Shays in Fourth District

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Farrell now free to focus on defeating Shays in Fourth District

Farrell now free to focus on defeating Shays in Fourth District

The most open secret in Fairfield County is former Westport First Selectwoman's second consecutive challenge to Congressman Christopher Shays (R-Bridgeport). And as the two prepare for a rematch in the Fourth Congressional District, Farrell has the luxury of much more time on her hands to concentrate on campaigning. Congressman Chris Shays of Connecticut served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Fiji in the 1960's.

Farrell now free to focus on defeating Shays in Fourth District

Farrell now free to focus on defeating Shays in Fourth District
By:Rob Sullivan, Staff Writer
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The most open secret in Fairfield County is former Westport First Selectwoman's second consecutive challenge to Congressman Christopher Shays (R-Bridgeport). And as the two prepare for a rematch in the Fourth Congressional District, Farrell has the luxury of much more time on her hands to concentrate on campaigning.

Having opted not to run for re-election to Westport's highest office, Farrell can focus exclusively on her run for Congress in November 2006. In her first challenge to Shays, Farrell came within four percentage points of unseating the veteran legislator.

"I feel strongly and passionately that I can make a difference in Washington," Farrell recently told a roundtable of Minuteman reporters. "I can't sit idly by and complain. I'm thrilled to have the opportunity to try and build a coalition among voters and I see no reason why we can't win."

Farrell is taking on Shays squarely over the Congressman's unwavering support for the Iraq war, and hopes to capitalize on President George W. Bush's rapidly declining poll numbers.

"I think the state of the country is a reflection of the Republican leadership," Farrell said. "It's a 20-year record for Chris Shays and I don't believe that his constituency is that unflagging in their support of the president and the Iraq war."

Indeed, Bush has not proven to be popular in Connecticut, as indicated by John Kerry's carrying the Nutmeg State in 2004. Recently, Gov. M. Jodi Rell declined to have the president campaign for her in the upcoming gubernatorial elections, a further sign of the president's low standing here.

With the luxury of not having to manage the town of Westport, Farrell has more time to go on the attack. Recently she drew Shays' ire for criticizing the Congressman's meeting with Ahmed Chalabi, an Iraqi national who many believe gave Washington misleading information about Iraq's stockpiling of weapons of mass destruction.

Shays deflected Farrell's criticism by saying, "Diane Farrell doesn't know the first thing about what is going on in Iraq. I don't think she has been there with Sunni, Shia or Kurds. For her to start expressing an opinion just blows me away."

Farrell answered, "In attacking me, Chris Shays is taking a page right out of President Bush's playbook: attack and try to silence your critics by belittling them. It is absurd for Chris to state that because I haven't been to Iraq, I shouldn't be criticizing for meeting with Mr. Chalabi. For all the times Chris has been there, what has he learned? My voice, along with the voice of millions of Americans, will not be silenced by Chris Shays, George Bush, or anyone else who wants to stifle debate on an issue as important as the war."

Farrell is also embracing some of the major themes from her 2004 campaign, including a focus on transportation issues in the region and also stressing regionalization in Fairfield County. On the latter point, Farrell stressed her leadership in Westport and the Southwest Regional Planning Association as being a key in helping to promote a regional approach to government and economics.

"Westport has always played a strong regional role, especially because we are located between two powerful municipalities in Bridgeport and Stamford," she said, "I think that gives a unique perspective to the cooperation needed to advance the development of our region."

Still, Farrell claimed the main difference between herself in Shays is Shays' essential conservatism, which she does believe represents the viewpoint of the Fairfield County electorate.

"To me it's a fulcrum - today's moderate was yesterday's archconservative," Farrell explained. :Chris has been a politician for 30 years. Along the way, the district is now ready for a fresh perspective. I think I did the right thing by leaving my position and I can reach out and address this campaign as a passionate endeavor."

When this story was posted in November 2005, this was on the front page of PCOL:

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Story Source: Westport Minuteman

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