Democrats saw President Barack Obama re-elected in an electoral college blowout, made gains in the United States Senate and, oh yes, sent Himes back for a third term in the U.S. House of Representatives, something that might have been inconceivable a few years back after decades of Republican dominance in the 4th District.
As of Wednesday morning, with 75.6% of the vote reported, Himes had defeated his Republican challenger, Westport businessman Steve Obsitnik, by a 59.4% to 40.6% margin. After defeating 21-year Congressman Christopher Shays in 2008, this is now the second straight campaign in which Himes has cruised to re-election. Himes lost to Obsitnik in Darien, 5,500 to 3,658.
Himes called it a “tough and long campaign,” particularly since the election was happening in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, which left so many Connecticut residents without power and with damaged homes. He said the recovery from the storm showed that people can come together to help each other, and he pledged to take that attitude back to Washington.
“In the midst of that storm, you saw what I saw,” Himes said. “You saw a cord extended from one generator to a neighbor’s generator so they could both have electricity. You saw people going into homes to ask, ‘Are you OK?’ You saw people helping our senior citizens, saying, ‘What can I do for you?’ This is the idea in the greatest nation in the planet where we all stand for individual liberty and freedom but we all recognize that we are at our best when we recognize we have a duty toward each other.”
Himes said he heard from people throughout the campaign that Congress needed to work more on the economic recovery and provide opportunity to “each and every person in this district and each and every person in this country.”
“The greatest nation in the world needs to be able to educate each child superbly,” Himes said. “The greatest nation in the world can afford to make sure that not a single American dies or gets ill without access to health care. And we can balance these things because we always have. It is part of the 240-year history of our nation that we celebrate individuals but also never forget that you got there because, like my opponent, Mr. Obsitnik, and myself, you got to go to good public schools and because our businesses were built on highways and railways and a court system and the things that allow us to succeed.”
In conceding, Mr. Obsitnik thanked his family and all his supporters while also promising his children to take them away for a long weekend this weekend. He said he was proud of “stepping forward” because he saw a need in the country to create an environment where small businesses and entrepreneurs can survive and thrive again.
“We know we need leadership in Washington now more than ever,” Mr. Obsitnik said. “The bipartisanship needs to happen and the partisanship has to stop. That’s the central topic that everyone asked me along the way — ‘How do you get stuff done in Washington?’ Our focus has to be on jobs and creating an environment where we compete as a state and as a nation in this world.”
He added, “We may have had a tough time tonight, but I encourage you all to stay involved, play hard, work hard, and together we will win as a nation.”
Himes praised Mr. Obsitnik, calling him a “good man who gave tremendous service to this country and ran a good campaign.”
“I think we can legitimately say that in a nation of very ugly campaigns this one was an exception,” Himes said. “I am tremendously proud that we ran a positive campaign with not a single negative TV ad and not a single negative mailer.”
Himes’s victory was part of another big night for Connecticut Democrats as the entire congressional delegation remained blue. Gov. Dannel Malloy offered his congratulations to the re-elected incumbent on Tuesday night.
“Jim Himes has been an advocate for commonsense public policy since his election in 2008,” Mr. Malloy said. “Whether the issue is education, job creation or just the nuts and bolts of outstanding constituent services, Jim is there at the forefront.”