Himes savors historic win of fourth term

U.S. Rep. Jim Himes (D-4th) celebrated his big win with his wife, Mary, and children in Bridgeport.

U.S. Rep. Jim Himes (D-4th) celebrated his big win with his wife, Mary, and children in Bridgeport.

U.S. Rep. Jim Himes kept Connecticut’s 4th District in Democratic hands Tuesday, defeating former state senator Dan Debicella, giving some good news to the party as Republicans won a majority of seats in the U.S. Senate to take control of both houses of Congress.

This was the fourth win for Mr. Himes, a Cos Cob resident, and as the victory became apparent it seemed as though the generations of Republican dominance in southwestern Connecticut appears officially over. Before Mr. Himes first election in 2008, the district had been dominated by Republicans for decades, most recently by congressmen like Stewart McKinney and Chris Shays, whom Mr. Himes defeated in 2008. But Mr. Himes has established himself in the seat now and he offered hope that in his new term there would be bipartisan progress in Congress, something he recently discussed when sitting down with Hersam Acorn Newspapers editors.

“If we are going to move this country forward we need to find ways to meet in the middle,” Mr. Himes said at his headquarters at the Holiday Inn in Bridgeport. “So once again we can govern ourselves.”

This was a historic win for Mr. Himes in the fourth district, which elected a Democrat to a fourth term in Congress for the first time since 1874, according to a tweet from New Canaan Democrats.

This was Mr. Himes’ second win over Mr. Debicella, whom he also defeated in 2010. And while this was a disappointment for Mr. Debicella, he urged everyone to unify.

“We all need to come together now, and both sides need to work together for the good of the country,” Mr. Debicella said to reporters at Vazzy’s Cucina in Shelton, where he and Shelton Republicans had gathered.

The night began with promise for the challenger, who arrived shortly after 9 p.m. with Himes holding 52% of the vote. However, the early returns did not include the cities of Stamford and Bridgeport, and the towns of Ridgefield, Fairfield, Wilton and part of Darien, where poll results were being tallied. Mr. Debicella conceded to a group of reporters about an hour later based on margins and unofficial results that showed Mr. Himes building an advantage too steep for the Republican to overcome.

Mr. Debicella’s concession surprised some given its quick timing and so many votes left to be counted. Mr. Himes did not even declare victory until later. But the numbers ended up going Mr. Himes’ way just as Mr. Debicella had projected. At the time of his concession, Mr. Debicella said he lost Norwalk by 5,000 votes, Bridgeport by 11,000 votes and Stamford by 7,000.

He told reporters he knew his strong showing in the suburbs would be overwhelmed by the Democratic turnout in the cities.

Meanwhile, Mr. Himes’ headquarters in Bridgeport was abuzz when the grinning congressman entered the lobby, soon swarmed by supporters, friends and family.

“My main hope is for a Congress that will discover some kind of unity since the last four years have brought a lot of indecisiveness and gridlock,” Mr. Himes said. “We have a lot of work to do and people are tired of the polarization.”

Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch shared Mr. Himes’ feelings of frustration toward Congress.

“We need a man like him,” Mr. Finch said. “We’re just currently frustrated by the deadlock in Washington.”

Mr. Himes called on the federal government to use its power and act.

“The government can only move our country forward when it addresses the problems that affect our country,” Mr. Himes said.

He then added, “For Connecticut, I believe that we need to work on meaningful investments in our infrastructure. We’re seeing these structures fall apart all around us, and it’s up to us to place our efforts into not only fixing but improving in order to advance as a people and a district.”

Despite the loss, Mr. Debicella said he was happy with his campaign and thanked all his supporters.

“We are very proud of the race we ran,” Mr. Debicella said.

Compared the race for governor in Connecticut — rated one of the nastiest in the nation — the race for southwestern Connecticut’s congressman focused mainly on the issues and differences of opinion between Himes and Debicella.

Earlier in the evening, before the polls closed at 8 p.m., the Republican supporters in the restaurant had talked about how they sensed voters wanted change. “There’s a call for change,” said incumbent Republican State Rep. Ben McGorty of the 122nd District, who won his own race.

“The thing I learned is that people in the suburbs and the cities are the same,” Mr. Debicella said. “We all want the American Dream.”

And while it was a successful night overall for Mr. Himes, he could not win his hometown of Greemnwich. Mr. Himes won Greenwich, a rarity for a Democratic candidate, in 2012, but he could not repeat that in 2014. According to the town, Mr. Debicella won Greenwich by a 10,276 to 8,539 margin. But Greenwich was not indicative of the entire district and it will be Mr. Himes returning to Washington for a new term.

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