2010 Connecticut's 4th U.S. House District Race: Democratic Incumbent Jim Himes vs. Republican Dan Debicella

Steven Bryan
Yahoo! Contributor NetworkOctober 8, 2010

In Connecticut's 4th U.S. Congressional District, incumbent Jim Himes, a Democrat, is facing Republican challenger Dan Debicella.

Candidates for Connecticut's 4th U.S. Congressional District Race (two-year term)

(Encompasses the cities of Stamford, Norwalk and Bridgeport. Click here of a district map.)

Candidate: Jim Himes

Party: Democrat

Political experience: In 2002, Himes became commissioner of the Greenwich Housing Authority, which controls 15 properties in the Greenwich, Conn., area. According to his campaign website, Himes also was elected to Greenwich's finance board and chaired the local Democratic Town Committee.

As part of the 111th Congress, Himes is a member of the House Committees on Financial Services and Homeland Security.

Professional experience: A 1988 Harvard University graduate, Himes received a Rhodes scholarship, which allowed him to continue his studies of Latin America at Oxford University in England. In 1990, Himes received his masters of philosophy in Latin American studies.

Upon graduation, Himes took a position with Goldman Sachs in the newly-formed Latin America division, moving to the mergers and acquisitions group in 1994. Himes eventually left Goldman Sachs in 2002.

According to his House of Representatives biography, Himes took a position with Enterprise Community Partners, running the New York City branch of this nonprofit organization from 2002 to 2007. Enterprise Community Partners' goal is providing affordable housing for every American who needs a home.

Key issues: On Himes' campaign website, creating jobs and restoring the economy lead his list of issues. As a freshman congressman, Himes voted for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). ARRA includes a homebuyer credit for buyers who purchased a home by April 30.

Himes also lists Wall Street reform as another priority, voting in favor of H.R. 4173: Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010. H.R 4173 outlines provisions to regulate mortgages, car loans and other financial products.

In March 2010, Himes voted in favor of H.R. 3590: Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act and H.R. 4872: Health Care Reconciliation Act.

Endorsements: Himes has secured endorsements from the Connecticut AFL-CIO and the Connecticut AFSCME, which represents public workers, such as corrections officers.

Chances of maintaining his seat: This race is a toss-up. In 2008, Himes defeated Rep. Christopher Shays, who had served Connecticut's 4th District since 1987. Himes' victory helped create a Democratic majority in the New England states in the House of Representatives.

Going for his second term, Himes is evenly matched against Debicella in terms of political experience and knowledge of the business world. This is one district race that could come down to the wire.

Candidate: Dan Debicella

Party: Republican

Political experience: Debicella is serving his second term as a state senator in Connecticut's 21st District. In 2008, he defeated Democrat Janice Anderson 24,925 votes to 19,794.

According to his state biography, Sen. Debicella has worked on legislation to give tax credits to Connecticut businesses that create 10 or more jobs. He also supported a 10 percent to 20 percent increase in state education funding.

Professional experience: Debicella graduated from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania in 1996 with a degree in finance. In 2000, Debicella also earned an MBA from the Harvard Business School.

According to his LinkedIn profile, Debicella worked an engagement manager for McKinsey & Co. from 2000 to 2005. McKinsey & Co. works with the senior management of their client firms, developing strategies and solving management issues.

From 2005 to 2008, Debicella worked as director of strategy for PepsiCo. In February 2009, Debicella took a position as assistant vice president of marketing for the Hartford Financial Services Group.

Key issues: As he did as a state senator, Debicella puts job creation high on his list of priorities. On his campaign website, he is critical of the economic stimulus package, proposing to cut the payroll tax for one year instead of handing out additional stimulus money.

On health care, Debicella wants to cut costs through a "healthy living tax credit," which promotes early detection and treatment of diseases. Debicella also promotes low-cost private health care options like Connecticut's Charter Oak Health Plan.

Endorsements: Debicella has secured an endorsement from the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste Political Action Committee (CCAGW PAC).

Chances of unseating Jim Himes: The race for Connecticut's 4th Congressional District is too close to call. Debicella and Himes both list job creation and health care as high priorities, but each man takes a different approach to these issues.

The incumbent and the challenger also have comparable experience in the private sector, Himes with Goldman Sachs and Debicella with the Hartford Financial Services Group. Himes may fall victim to the anti-incumbency mood in the country, but if Connecticut voters like the status quo, he could keep his seat for another term.

Key Differences between Jim Himes and Dan Debicella
In his freshman year, Himes voted along party lines for health care reform and economic stimulus packages. Debicella remains critical of these measures, promoting a streamlined approach to cutting health costs and creating jobs.

Connecticut's 4th U.S. Congressional District

Location: Located in the southeastern corner of the state, Connecticut's 4th U.S. Congressional District contains portions of New Haven and Fairfield counties.

2008 Results: Himes defeated incumbent Rep. Christopher Shays 51 percent to 48 percent.

Demographics: According to the 2006-2008 American Community Survey, the 683,299 residents of Connecticut's 4th Congressional District are classified as follows: 74.3 percent white, 12.3 percent black, 0.8 percent American Indian or Alaska native, 4.4 percent Asian, 0.1 percent native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander.

According to the Cook Political Report Partisan Voting Index, Connecticut's 4th U.S. Congressional District is classified D+5, indicating a moderate Democratic lean.