Nowhere is the Iraq war issue playing out more vividly than in the leafy, affluent suburbs of southern Connecticut. Nine-term incumbent Republican Rep. Christopher Shays, 60, is battling a strong backlash to his pro-war stand in a rematch with an aggressive and well-funded opponent who gave him a scare in 2004.
Shays acknowledges that he could lose on the war issue alone in this Democratic-leaning district but says he stands by his decision to support President Bush's Iraq policy. In a move that ruffled some GOP feathers, Shays announced his support for Connecticut Sen. Joseph Lieberman, a Democrat whose endorsement of the Iraq war has complicated his own re-election.
A moderate who bedevils his party with consistently liberal votes on myriad issues from abortion to gay rights, Shays, however, enjoys deep regard from many of his longtime constituents. But Democrat Diane Farrell, 50, has come out of the gate with a rapid-response press operation, significant support from the national party, and a take-no-prisoners approach to attacking Shays--not only on his war stand but also, for example, on changing his long-held positions on immigration laws (he had opposed legalization for illegal immigrants in the country but reversed his position this year) and on what she characterizes as his lack of attentiveness to transportation issues in the Northeast corridor. The candidates don't much like each other, and with money pouring in--$6 million will very likely be spent between the two by the time votes are counted--this matchup promises to be a sizzler.