2007.09.14: September 14, 2007: Headlines: Figures: COS - Fiji: Politics: Congress: Hartford Courant: Shays Says He'll Not Run Again If Denied Chairmanship

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Shays Says He'll Not Run Again If Denied Chairmanship

Shays Says He'll Not Run Again If Denied Chairmanship

Rep. Christopher Shays said today he will not seek another congressional term unless House Republican leaders support his bid for the job of top GOP member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Even if he runs and wins, and somehow gets denied the top Republican spot anyway in 2009, "I will resign," Shays said. "I'm 61 years old. I've been in Congress 20 years. If I have to fight to become chairman of a committee, given the job I've done, I need to move on," Shays said in an interview this morning. Congressman Chris Shays of Connecticut served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Fiji in the 1960's.

Shays Says He'll Not Run Again If Denied Chairmanship

Shays Says He'll Not Run Again If Denied Chairmanship

By DAVID LIGHTMAN | Washington Bureau Chief

11:48 AM EDT, September 14, 2007

WASHINGTON - Rep. Christopher Shays said today he will not seek another congressional term unless House Republican leaders support his bid for the job of top GOP member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

He is meeting with leaders and other key members now.

If they do not give him significant backing "I'm absolutely not going to run," said Shays, who said he is giving no one any deadlines.

Even if he runs and wins, and somehow gets denied the top Republican spot anyway in 2009, "I will resign," Shays said.

"I'm 61 years old. I've been in Congress 20 years. If I have to fight to become chairman of a committee, given the job I've done, I need to move on," Shays said in an interview this morning.

Democrats pounced immediately.

"Where are Chris Shays' priorities? Clearly not with his constituents," asked Democratic congressional campaign spokeswoman Carrie James. "Chris Shays deserves to be replaced if he thinks his personal ambitions are more important than fighting for an end to the war in Iraq and working on behalf of the families in his district. He has become beholden to Republican leadership and to the Bush Administration, leaving Connecticut families behind."

The chairmanship would be decided first by the House Republican Steering Committee, a 28-member group that includes House leaders and regional representatives. It is then ratified by the full Republcan caucus after the November 2008 election.

Shays, R-4th District, who has represented southwestern Connecticut since 1987, said he is talking privately with House leaders and committee members, and said "I will base my decision on the response I get from those members. I need to know I have enough support…to know I would be the chairman."

"I need to know the support is a comfortable margin, not 55 or 60 percent support. Shays said if he does not run for Congress, he would not seek another office in 2008, but would not rule out another race in the future."

He said he would not run because he's just endured two tough races, both against former Westport First Selectwoman Diane G. Farrell, and faces another tough challenge in 2008 -- and "when you're a targeted person," Shays said, "you want as few distractions as possible."

He said that he wants his re-election to focus on two things: "Doing a good job and getting re-elected. If I have to add a third element whether or not I can be chairman, it just makes the outcome more uncertain and could make the next year and a half very unpleasant."

Shays was in line for the chairmanship in 2003, but was passed over in favor of Rep. Thomas M. Davis 3rd, R-Va., who may run for Virginia's U.S. Senate seat next year.

Four years ago, things were different: Shays was winning elections easily, and he knew he was being punished by House Republican leaders because he led the fight for campaign finance reform.

Times now are different. Shays has been a fairly loyal Republican, particularly on the Iraq war, and has been a loyal member of the committee, where he chaired its national security subcommittee before Democrats won control of the House last year.

Shays said that knowing he will be chairman or ranking member in 2009 would make his campaign easier. He said that he thought former Rep. Nancy L. Johnson, R-5th District, who was seeking the chairmanship of the House Ways and Means Committee, was so distracted last year it was a key reason she lost her re-election bid.

Shays said he needs to get rid of the distraction of whether he'll be chairman because he expects an ugly 2008 campaign.

House Democratic Caucus Chairman Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill., he said, "comes from the school that basically says make life miserable for your opponent. Dig up any dirt you can dig up and use the press to achieve your goals. I know the kind of race I can look forward to."

Shays is expected to have a tough race for a number of reasons -- he's the last New England House Republican in a region that's increasingly Democratic, and his support for the war is not in line with the wishes of his district.

He maintained his war stance had nothing to do with his decision, though, and said he would not be pleased if he could not "finish the job," as he put it. "One of the reasons I want to run is to see [the war] to its conclusion," he said.

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Headlines: September, 2007; RPCV Chris Shays (Fiji); Figures; Peace Corps Fiji; Directory of Fiji RPCVs; Messages and Announcements for Fiji RPCVs; Politics; Congress; Connecticut

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