Sabato's Crystal Ball

Connecticut (04) House 2010

Crystal Ball Outlook: Leans D

Democratic candidate: Jim Himes, Incumbent

Republican candidate: Dan Debicella, State Senator

Recent updates from the Crystal Ball

Update: October 5th, 2010

Two straight GOP polls have had the Republican nominee, state senator Dan Debicella, within striking distance of Democratic Rep. Jim Himes, bad news for Democrats worried about spreading their resources too thin to defend almost 100 vulnerable seats. This is a somewhat Democratic district, with Obama winning 60% of the vote here in 2008, but the past year and a half has not been good to the Democratic Party and their voters may not show up to the same degree as 2008. Another factor in Debicella’s favor is the legacy of Chris Shays, a Republican who represented the district until Himes’ victory in 2008, demonstrating that a Republican representative in Connecticut’s 4th District is not an impossibility. The Crystal Ball moves this district from Likely D to Leans D.

Update: August 13, 2010

Democratic incumbent Jim Himes will now face State Senator Dan Debicella in the fall. Debicella, who won the GOP primary this week, is at a huge fundraising disadvantage with $492,572 in the bank while his opponent has $1.8 million. Given that the 4th district has become more Democrat-friendly territory in recent years and Debicella has focused his efforts so far on winning his party’s primary.

Background:

Connecticut’s 4th District had been a Republican stronghold since 1969 before Jim Himes unseated incumbent Christopher Shays in the 2008 election. President Obama was also victorious in the 4th district, taking 60% of the area’s vote. Himes’ victory in the 4th District gave Democrats control of all of Connecticut’s Congressional seats. Himes is a Wall Street veteran, a former Goldman Sachs employee, who transitioned into the nonprofit sector, working to combat urban poverty. Himes has already been the target of criticism from Republican opponents for his propensity to vote along partisan lines. He recently voted in support of health care legislation and had previously voted with Democrats for cap-and-trade and the stimulus.

The Republican Party has several promising candidates in Dan Debicella Will Gregory, Tom Herrmann, Robert Merkle, Robert Russo, and Rick Torres. The early frontrunner to face Himes was Dan Debicella, a member of the Connecticut State Senate. In a recent appearance at a forum for candidates, Debicella deflected attention away from health care and proposed that the economy and government spending would be the most important issues for the November election. As of the end of 2009, Debicella had taken in more campaign receipts than his fellow Republicans combined. Debicella will face stiff competition from a new entrant into the Primary race: Tom Herrmann. Herrmann, who is willing to use his personal wealth to finance his campaign, just announced his candidacy in March.