Thursday, November 05, 2009
What Jim Himes is Thinking Right Now
Democrats Confront Coalition Strains
Elections this week left Democrats scrambling to renew the coalition that elected President Barack Obama after independent voters, whose power to determine U.S. elections is rising with their numbers, broke heavily toward Republicans.
—The Wall Street Journal, November 5, 2009
First, who is Jim Himes, and why does he matter?
Himes is a freshman Congressman from the 4th Connecticut district, who defeated a moderate Republican incumbent in last year’s Obama sweep.
He is also an ex-Goldman banker—hey, who in Washington isn’t an ex-Goldman banker?—and he matters to investors because he is your basic party-line freshman Congressman, and a staunch supporter of health care reform.
A friend of ours who happens to be a doctor traded emails with Himes recently, and while you’d think an ex-Goldman banker would be more thoughtful than your average Congressperson—and solicitous of the real-world views of an actual doctor, as opposed to a lobbyist for Big Pharm or Big Hospital or Big Ambulance Chasers—Himes dismissed our doctor-friend’s views as being the product of watching “cable TV.”
But that was then, and this is now.
However the Talking Heads and party hacks—whatever their party—are spinning yesterday’s election results, what Jim Himes is thinking right now is this: “Holy cow. It’s not just cable TV.”
The reason Himes is thinking this—at least, he ought to be—is that in his 4th Congressional District, the voting was so anti-incumbent—not just anti-Democrat, mind you: anti-incumbent—that anybody with a suit and tie and a web site at house.gov has to be looking at the numbers and worrying about next year.
The numbers are these. Twelve months ago, Himes beat the Republican incumbent by 2,500 votes, out of a few hundred thousand cast. Himes did this by winning big the three cities in his district—Bridgeport, Norwalk and Stamford—while the Republican won the suburbs.
But yesterday—lost in the feeding frenzy over the New Jersey and Virginia governor races, and Mayor Bloomberg’s $110 million squeaker against a no-name in New York City—the city of Stamford, Connecticut, which Himes won by 6,300 votes, elected a Republican mayor.
It hasn’t happened there in 14 years.
And it wasn’t just Stamford where the discontent was expressed.
Leafy Trumbull kicked out a popular, competent, moderate Democrat, longtime First Selectman, for a first-time 29 year old—and the vote wasn’t even close.
Meanwhile, the Representative Town Meeting in Fairfield, a quiet suburb of 50,000 souls, went, overnight, from 28 Democrats/22 Republicans to 38 Republicans, 12 Democrats.
Politicians don’t know how to count money, but they do know how to count votes.
And Jim Himes—not to mention Chris Dodd, the state’s “Senator from Countrywide”—is surely counting yesterday’s votes.
For the record, we care not a bit who gets elected as far as these virtual pages go. Being investors, we must take the world as it is, not as we wish it to be.
And that world just changed, as today’s Wall Street Journal accurately reports.
Healthcare reform may not be dead—something will be passed. But it will be different, and it won’t be what the House has proposed.
Jim Himes, and his fellow ex-Goldman bankers, will see to that.
Let’s just hope they start listening to real docs and real nurses, instead of lobbyists, and cable TV.
I Am Not Making This Up
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Posted by Jeff Matthews at 8:42 AM