Himes sees divided country, divided district, need to work with Trump on transportation

Congressman Himes greeted supporters on the Elm Street sidewalk in from of DTC headquarters Sunday afternoon, Oct. 7. — Greg Reilly
Congressman Himes greeted supporters on the Elm Street sidewalk in from of DTC headquarters Sunday afternoon, Oct. 7. — Greg Reilly

Trumbull’s U.S. Congressman, Democrat Jim Himes, brought his re-election campaign to Elm Street in New Canaan on Sunday and offered a special welcome to independents and Republicans, as well as to the strong turnout of Democrats at the local party headquarters. He called the past week “enormously emotional” in the wake of the Judge Kavanaugh hearings in the U.S. Senate

Himes spoke with the Trumbull Times' sister publication, the New Canaan Advertiser after delivering his remarks to the crowd. “I welcome the independents and the Republicans that I know are here; they are probably not going to agree with me on all Democratic policy, but they do agree with me that we need to take a stand against bigotry, irresponsibility and misogyny,” he said.

“It’s a scary but exciting time to be carrying the banner for those things,” Himes said, referring to a perceived contempt for or prejudice against women.

“We’re coming through an enormously emotional week; the Kavanaugh hearings split this country even worse than I have seen it split in the last eight years,” the congressman said.

Psychologist Dr. Christine Blasey Ford accused then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault and testified before a Senate committee and a national televised audience. Her accusations were uncorroborated, and the Senate approved Kavanaugh’s elevation to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Himes said, “Even in a Republican place like New Canaan a lot of women felt that the way Dr. Ford was handled was a big step back. That’s part of the reason you see the energy here” at the Democratic Town Committee headquarters, which was filled with supporters.

Social issues

Even while the first topic that comes up for candidates running for state office in Connecticut is the poor financial condition of the state government, candidates report that social issues also are on the mind of residents and voters — particularly women’s reproductive rights and guns. Himes said he, too, finds that on the campaign trail.

He told the Advertiser, “In the more affluent parts of my district women’s reproductive rights and guns remain front and center, particularly for a lot of women…. I have a lot of constituents who aren’t really worried about where their next meal is coming from, and those people do worry about those things.”

Himes’ congressional district, Connecticut’s 4th, extends from Bridgeport to Greenwich and is known to have one of the most socioeconomically diverse populaces in the country. “Some of the richest people in the country,” Himes said, “and some of the poorest; not Appalachian poor, but pretty poor.”

Housing and jobs

In the less affluent areas of Connecticut the concerns are less about social issues, Himes said, and more about bread and butter.

“In those communities where you have poverty, those people are still focused on housing and jobs and transportation,” he said. “In the inner city it’s still housing; it’s still paychecks.”

Trump and transportation

Himes is known for being a severe critic of President Donald Trump, and he repeated his dislike for the President when speaking with the Advertiser on Sunday. However, when asked how the federal government can be most helpful to southwestern Connecticut he said that would be by working with the President to get funding for transportation infrastructure.

“Everyone agrees we need new transportation infrastructure,” Himes said. “That’s what I wake up thinking about and go to sleep thinking about.”

“It matters to all my constituents,” he said.

“The hard question is how are we going to pay for it.”

What is necessary, Himes said, is getting funding from Washington to Hartford.

“I don’t agree with the President on many things,” Himes said, “but he campaigned on a major infrastructure investment… Even though I don’t like the guy, the moment he wants to talk turkey on that I will be at the White House.”

“I don’t like much about this President, but he’s kind of a guy with a fixed ideology. My guess is that if [Democrats win a majority in the House of Representatives] we can go to the White House and say ‘Now you need to do deals.’ I don’t like the guy, but I will be front and center to say ‘let’s do a deal on transportation.’”

Winning in November

Himes as served as U.S. representative for Connecticut’s 4th District since 2009, and he is running for a sixth term in November. Asked about what he is doing to win, he said, “I believe you get elected not because you run a good campaign but because you do a good job representing people. That is why I have always done town hall meetings, always come to the New Canaan (Advertiser Coffee) breakfast…. I really believe that you do win as an incumbent by providing good representation.”