Public Office: Greenwich Democratic town chair, 2003 to 2007; Greenwich Board of Estimate and Taxation, 2005 to 2007; Member of Congress 2008 to present
Current Position: Member of Congress, 4th Congressional District
Background: As he runs re-election for the first time, Himes will not have the benefit of Barack Obama’s coattails, which in 2008 helped him unseat longtime Congressman and perpetual Democratic target Christopher Shays by boosting minority turnout in Bridgeport.
He represents a district that is tightly tied to Wall Street’s ups and downs, but also includes widespread inner city economic needs in places like Bridgeport.
Himes is a former Goldman Sachs vice president who left Wall Street in 2002 to work for a non-profit developer of affordable housing, Enterprise Development.
Himes has stressed he was not an executive in the mold of the independently wealthy Jon Corzine, who self-financed a campaign for the U.S. Senate. But during negotiations over the financial overhaul bill, passed earlier this year, Himes took heat from consumer advocates who said he and other centrist Democrats were trying to water down the portion of the bill that addressed derivatives regulation. Himes was part of a group that helped craft the derivatives portion of the House version, which was less stringent than the Senate’s.
These and other issues will almost surely be spotlighted by national Republicans as they seek to win back this seat, which until Himes won it two years ago, they had held since 1969. The National Republican Campaign Committee has long had Himes in its sights, and for his time in office has leveled a steady barrage of email lambasting his votes and labeling him an arm of radical House leadership.
Himes like to categorize his voting record as the most independent in New England. He’s voted with the Democrats 94 percent of the time, which is actually the lowest percentage among Connecticut’s members of Congress. He portrays himself as pro-business and fiscally restrained, advocating spending cuts that are not always welcomed in his party. In December 2009 and May 2010, citing fiscal concerns, he voted against stimulus-related bills that included Medicaid funding for states and an extension of unemployment insurance for laid-off workers. “It had a huge slug of unpaid-for spending,” Himes told the Mirror at the time of the most recent vote. “That was not emergency spending.”
He supported the comprehensive health care reform legislation, the restoration of pay-as-you-go budget provisions and the Recovery Act, which also provided hundreds of millions of dollars to his district for transportation improvements.
Himes was born in Lima, Peru to American parents and spent his childhood in Peru, where his father worked for the Ford Foundation. He speaks fluent Spanish. He moved to New Jersey with his mother after his parent’s divorce.
In Congress, he serves on the House Financial Services and Homeland Security Committees.
Education: B.A., Harvard University; M. Phil., Oxford University
Personal: Himes is 44. He and his wife Mary have two children and live in Greenwich.