Early bird Himes gearing up for 2012 House re-election fight
Published 12:15 pm, Monday, April 11, 2011
You can never have a big enough war chest.
Not if you're, U.S. Rep Jim Himes D-Conn., who five months removed from re-election, is already seeking donations for 2012 as part of a recent fundraising appeal.
Himes, in his second term representing most of Fairfield County and a sliver of New Haven County, said there is constant pressure to raise money with the House on a two-year election cycle.
"The permeation of money in our system is just awful," Himes said. "At best, it's an inconvenience. At worst, it's corrupt."
Himes sent a March 30 e-mail to supporters, the subject line of which was "Send an Early Message," soliciting donations of $1,000, $500, $250 or $100 that he could apply to his first quarter fundraising totals.
Himes estimated that he took in $300,000 for the quarter.
Fundraising totals for the period from Jan. 1 through March 30 won't be available from the Federal Election Commission until April 15.
Republicans contend that the timing of Himes' fundraising appeal shows that the former Goldman Sachs investment banker turned affordable housing executive is vulnerable.
"I think it's a sign that he's worried," said Tory Mazzola, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee for the New England region.
Mazzola characterized Himes' fundraising email as being filled with "cookie-cutter" talking points of congressional Democrats, who he said have shunned the will of the people of Connecticut who want lower taxes and government spending to go along with job growth.
"He needs to have money and resources to frame the debate how he likes it," Mazzola said. "It's very early in the election cycle, but it's definitely a seat that we're going to be taking a look at."
Himes said that the federal tax burden is the lowest it has been since 1958.
He estimated that tax cuts constituted 35 percent of the $787 billion stimulus package, which he voted for in 2009. Himes was the only member of Connecticut's all-Democratic House caucus to endorse a compromise extending the George W. Bush-era tax cuts to all income brackets in December.
"The last Congress was largely about lowering American taxes," Himes said.
According to the Federal Election Commission, Himes had $16,862 cash on hand at the end of 2010 to go along with $280,594 in outstanding debt.
Himes said the debt is from his first congressional race in 2008, when he loaned his campaign money.
"At this point, I don't have any debt beyond that," Himes said. "Over time, I may be able to pay myself back depending on what the demands are on the campaign."
State Democratic Chairwoman Nancy DiNardo said it's never too soon to start raising money.
"I think elections are becoming more and more expensive," DiNardo said. "It's difficult to raise money, so incumbents need to be out there early raising money."
Another factor to consider is that Himes' district is part of the cost-prohibitive New York City television market.
"I think, certainly the fact that so many down here in Fairfield County do watch New York television, I would imagine it will be part of Jim's campaign buying some of that media," DiNardo said.
Staff writer Neil Vigdor can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 203-625-4436.