Connecticut delegation welcomes new member

Sens. Dodd and Lieberman at Capitol Hill press conference by Sarah Beth Yoder

Sens. Dodd and Lieberman at Capitol Hill press conference by Sarah Beth Yoder

Nov. 19 2008

WASHINGTON-Connecticut’s congressional delegation is officially blue.

The state’s senators and House members warmly welcomed Rep.-elect Jim Himes of the 4th District to Capitol Hill Wednesday. His election victory two weeks ago rendered them a Democrats-only club.

In a press conference colored by hugs and handshakes, schmoozing and self-deprecating quips, the lawmakers presented themselves as a “united team” ready to tackle the state’s economic challenges.

“With a united Democratic congressional delegation,” Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, said, “we now have the ability to help deliver the change American people deserve and need.”

The conference was also a “welcome back” of sorts for Sen. Joe Lieberman, as his colleague Sen. Chris Dodd put it. Lieberman was reelected in 2006 as an independent after losing in the Democratic primary and now identifies himself as an independent Democrat. But he angered Democrats by aggressively campaigning for Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain.

Lieberman thanked Dodd for helping dissuade Senate Democrats from stripping him of his prestigious Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee chairmanship.

“Look, this last couple of weeks, and the whole post-election period, hasn’t been an easy one,” Lieberman said,. “It meant everything to me to have [Dodd] not just standing by my side but advocating on my behalf.”

Lieberman noted that Himes is joining an exceptionally powerful Connecticut team. Dodd chairs the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee and Reps. John Larson, 1st District, and Rose DeLauro, 3rd District, have leadership positions in the House.

Still, there was a healthy dose of self-deprecating humor all around. Lieberman referred to himself as a “lowly junior senator,” and DeLauro, the dean of the Connecticut House delegation as its longest-serving member, deferred to Dodd, saying, “I know where I stand.”

When Larson, mentioned that Dodd and Lieberman were former presidential candidates, Dodd quipped, “Not very successful ones- though combined we may have made it.”

Courtney, who won a second term earlier this month, said after the event that he had some personal advice for the incoming freshman. He urged Himes, a father of two young children, not to forsake his family when he’s in the district.

“Your staff would like to have you going full blast every minute when you’re home,” Courtney said. “But you just want to make sure you got somebody to go home to.”

Himes, a former Goldman Sachs investment banker who defeated 11-term representative Chris Shays to capture the state’s 4th district earlier this month, will take office in January.

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