Chris Shays

Chris Shays
Chris Shays
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Connecticut's 4th district
In office
August 18, 1987 – January 3, 2009
Preceded by Stewart McKinney
Succeeded by Jim Himes
Personal details
Born October 18, 1945 (1945-10-18) (age 66)
Stamford, Connecticut
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Betsi DeRaismes Shays
Children Jeramy Alice Shays
Residence Bridgeport, Connecticut
Alma mater Principia College, New York University
Occupation Director, financial group
Religion Christian Science[1]

Christopher H. Shays (born October 18, 1945) is an American politician. He was a Republican member of the United States House of Representatives and represented the 4th District of Connecticut.

Shays was the only Republican congressman from New England elected to the 110th United States Congress in the 2006 midterm elections. His loss to Jim Himes in the 2008 election made New England's House delegation entirely Democratic in the 111th Congress. He was the most senior member of House of Representatives to be defeated in the 2008 election.

In 2009, Shays was appointed to co-chair the Commission on Wartime Contracting. The commission is an independent, bipartisan legislative commission established to study wartime contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan. Created in Section 841 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008, this eight-member commission is mandated by Congress to study federal agency contracting for the reconstruction, logistical support of coalition forces, and the performance of security functions, in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Shays is currently a candidate for the 2012 Republican U.S. Senate nomination to replace retiring Connecticut senator Joe Lieberman.[2]



Born in Stamford, Connecticut, Shays grew up in Darien, attended the Christian Science Principia College in Elsah, Illinois, and received an MBA and MPA from New York University. He lives in the Black Rock section of Bridgeport, Connecticut.[3] Shays is a Christian Scientist; in September 2006, Shays said in an interview that he was questioning his faith.[4][5]

Shays married Betsi DeRaismes in 1968. They served together in the Peace Corps in Fiji from 1968 to 1970. They have one daughter.

Voting record

U.S. News & World Report said that analysis of Shays' voting record reveals that he is a moderate, having voted historically more often with liberals than with conservatives, although it noted he voted with Congressional Republicans 80% of the time in 2002.[6] Shays has listed former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich as his political inspiration, saying "Newt Gingrich is my hero."[7]

Shays is labeled by his supporters as a "maverick"[8] and "independent thinker", while conservative detractors regard him as a RINO ("Republican In Name Only").[9] Shays is pro-choice on abortion; and although he voted for the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, he had voted against various prior versions of the bill.[8][10] Shays was endorsed by the Brady Campaign for his support for gun control and was one of only six Republicans to vote against banning lawsuits against gun manufacturers and distributors in 2005.[11] Shays generally voted with the Democratic Party on matters affecting gays and lesbians; he has voted against the federal marriage amendment and co-sponsored a bill to overturn the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. He is one of the few Republicans to oppose amending the Constitution to ban flag-burning. In 1999 he was one of 20 Republicans to vote against an ultimately failed bill to ban physician-assisted suicide. The Congressman has long been known for environmental regulations,[12] and was endorsed in the past by the League of Conservation Voters.[13] He also advocates humane treatment of animals[14] and ending discrimination in the workplace.[15] Shays was also one of only four Republicans to vote against all four articles of impeachment against President Bill Clinton.

In April 2005, he broke with most of his party over House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's alleged ethics violations. This made Shays the first Republican to say DeLay should step down from the Majority Leader post. He fought to maintain the Republican Party rule that requires an indicted leader to step down — the rule that ultimately resulted in Tom DeLay's resignation. Shays stated that he should resign, saying, "Tom's conduct is hurting the Republican Party, is hurting this Republican majority and it is hurting any Republican who is up for re-election."[16]

Shays is a staunch advocate of a federal prohibition of online poker. In 2006, he cosponsored H.R. 4411, the Goodlatte-Leach Internet Gambling Prohibition Act.[17] In 2008, he opposed H.R. 5767, the Payment Systems Protection Act (a bill that sought to place a moratorium on enforcement of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act while the U.S. Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve defined "unlawful Internet gambling").

Shays is a member of or supported by the Republican Main Street Partnership,[18] The Republican Majority For Choice,[19] Republicans for Environmental Protection,[20] It's My Party Too,[21] and the Congressional Wildlife Refuge Caucus.

Views on Iraq

Shays voted in favor of the 2003 Congressional resolution authorizing the use of force in Iraq. In 2003, he was the first U.S. Congressman to visit Iraq after the outbreak of war and he has traveled to Iraq 21 times overall, more than any other U.S. legislator.[22][23]

From 2003 until August 24, 2006, Shays was a "stalwart supporter" of the War in Iraq, and of a continued U.S. military presence there.[24][25] Shay has faced a continued political challenge to his views in a district where recent polls show a solid majority of voters disapprove of the 2003 US decision to invade Iraq.[26]

On April 10, 2003, Shays told the Connecticut Post that "The war plan has been nearly flawless."[27] On August 19, 2004, Shays told reporters, "We're on the right track now."[28] On June 24, 2005, Shays said "We've seen amazing progress [in Iraq]."[29] On July 27, 2005, Shays said on a local radio program that he was optimistic about the future of Iraq, and that he opposed any timetable for troop withdrawal.[30] On June 11, 2006 Shays told the Hartford Courant that his position on the war was a matter of principle and he was not going to stop talking about it.[9]

On October 11, 2006, at a debate Shays sparked outrage from critics with comments about the Abu Ghraib torture and prisoner abuse scandal. "Now I've seen what happened in Abu Ghraib, and Abu Ghraib was not torture. It was outrageous, outrageous involvement of National Guard troops from [Maryland] who were involved in a sex ring and they took pictures of soldiers who were naked, and they did other things that were just outrageous. But it wasn't torture."[31]

Upon returning from an August 2006 Iraq trip, Shays became the first Congressional Republican to call for a timetable for withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.[24] Shays said he was still a supporter of the war, but supported a timetable in order to "encourage some political will on the part of Iraqis".[32]

Shays has staunchly disputed media claims that he has flip-flopped his position on Iraq.[33] "I am not distancing myself from the President," he told the Los Angeles Times on August 25, 2006.[34] That same day, he told other reporters, "I totally support the war."[35]

On February 16, 2007, Shays voted against H. Con. Res. 63 (which disapproved of increasing troop levels in Iraq),[36] claiming that "The resolution sends the wrong message to the President, to our troops, and to our enemies" [37] On July 13, 2007 Shays called on Congress to approve withdrawing virtually all American troops from Iraq by December 2008. "I believe we need a timeline. I believe the president's wrong," said Shays. Shays' latest plan marks the first time he has specified dates.[38] On April 13, 2008, Shays defended President Bush's Iraq policy to a town meeting in his home district, telling them, "I support the President on Iraq."[39]


Campaign finance reform

Along with Representative Marty Meehan, a Massachusetts Democrat, Shays co-sponsored the Shays-Meehan bill, which was signed into law as the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002. The American Civil Liberties Union "believes that key elements of Shays-Meehan violate the First Amendment right to free speech because the legislation contains provisions that would violate the constitutionally protected right of the people to express their opinions about issues through broadcast advertising if they mention the name of a candidate and restrict soft money contributions and uses of soft money for no constitutionally justifiable reason."[40] The Supreme Court upheld the law (McConnell v. Federal Election Commission).

National security

After a series of leaks from within the FBI, CIA, and NSA regarding the disputed legality of surveillance, Shays chaired a hearing on National Whistleblower Protection.[41] This hearing was largely opposed by the Republican leadership and the Bush administration, which was attempting to strip intelligence employees of whistleblower protections. The witness list included members of the military, the FBI, the CIA, and the NSA who had come forward about such issues as warrantless eavesdropping and the Abu Ghraib scandal in Iraq.[42]


Police incident

In 2007, Shays raised his voice to a Capitol Hill policeman, and touched the officer's badge to read the number for not letting the congressman's visitors through a doorway. "I take full responsibility for this incident and want to ensure it does not reflect negatively on the officer in any way," he added.[43][44]


Shays served as a member of the Connecticut House of Representatives from 1975 to 1987, representing part of Stamford (he has since moved to Bridgeport). Just a few months after starting his seventh term in the state house, Shays entered a special election for the 4th District after 16-year incumbent Stewart McKinney died of AIDS, and won with 57 percent of the vote. He won the seat in his own right in 1988 and was reelected nine times.

From 1988 to 2002, Shays was reelected fairly handily, never dropping below 57 percent of the vote even as the 4th turned more Democratic at the national level. The district, once a classic "Yankee Republican" district, swung heavily to the Democrats along with the rest of Connecticut from the early 1990s onward; the last Republican presidential candidate to carry it was George H. W. Bush in 1988.

2006 election

Shays at a political debate held at Fairfield University in October 2006

In 2006, Shays was in "the fight of his political life",[6] facing a strong challenge for re-election from former Westport First Selectwoman Diane Farrell, who had held him to only 52 percent of the vote in 2004. According to U.S. News & World Report, "With money pouring in from the district and from national groups (Farrell expects to raise close to $3 million, Shays a bit less) and unregulated political interest groups targeting Shays with automated calls and negative telemarketing designed as polls, this one already has the odor of ugly."[6] According to the U.S. News report, Farrell says that, in 2002, Shays voted in support of Bush's post-9/11 agenda 80% of the time, but other analyses of his voting record revealed that historically he voted more often with liberals.[6]

Despite the strong challenge from Farrell, Shays was re-elected to Congress in the 2006 election by a slim margin of 6,645 votes (3%). Shays lost Bridgeport, Stamford, Norwalk, Westport, and Weston to Farrell, but her margin in those communities was insufficient to overcome Shays' lead in the more Republican towns in the district. Shays was likely also helped by coattails from Governor Jodi Rell, who easily carried the district.

After the defeats of Nancy Johnson and Rob Simmons, Shays was the only Republican congressman from Connecticut, and the only Republican congressman from all of New England.

2008 election

In the 2008 election, Shays faced Democratic nominee Jim Himes, an affordable housing executive and businessman; Libertarian nominee M. A. Carrano, a professional philosophy writer and systems consultant; and Green Party nominee Richard Duffee. Shays was defeated by Himes 51% to 48%. Himes was likely assisted by Barack Obama's landslide victory in the 4th; Obama carried the district with 60% of the vote, one of the largest margins for a Republican-held district. Shays' defeat resulted in there being no Republicans representing New England in the House for the first time in almost 150 years.

Shays carried all but three towns in his district--Bridgeport, Norwalk and Stamford. However, he could not overcome a landslide loss in Bridgeport, the largest city in the district, where he won only 19% of the vote.

2012 U.S. Senate candidacy

Shays officially entered the 2012 U.S. Senate race on August 22, 2011.[2] He will seek the Republican nomination to replace retiring senator Joe Lieberman.

Former committee assignments

  • Oversight and Government Reform Committee
    • Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs (Ranking Member)
    • Subcommittee on Domestic Policy
  • Financial Services Committee
    • Subcommittee on Capital Markets, Insurance, and Government Sponsored Enterprises
    • Subcommittee on Housing and Community Opportunity
  • Homeland Security Committee
    • Subcommittee on Intelligence, Information Sharing and Terrorism Risk Assessment
  • Co-founded the Congressional National Service Caucus
  • Co-Chair of the Congressional Arts Caucus
  • Co-Chair and Co-Founder of the Congressional Friends of Animals Caucus
  • Co-Chair of the Nonproliferation Task Force

See also


  1. ^ Margolick, David (August 6, 1990), "In Child Deaths, a Test for Christian Science; Faith vs. the Law; A special report.", The New York Times: A2, ISSN 1649296, 
  2. ^ a b Toeplitz, Shira (August 22, 2011). "Ex-Rep. Shays Makes Senate Bid Official". Roll Call. Retrieved August 23, 2011. 
  3. ^ Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Shays, Christopher H. Retrieved October 9, 2006.
  4. ^ Chris Shays is Fired Up, Feels Campaign Heat. The Hill. Retrieved October 11, 2006.
  5. ^ Urban, Peter. Shays says his faith changed: No longer follows Christian Scientist views on healing. Connecticut Post September 15, 2006.
  6. ^ a b c d Halloran, Liz. One Fierce Nor'easter. U.S. News & World Report May 29, 2006.
  7. ^ Shays does know the details, and he admits that "there's a part of me that wonders if it's as well thought out as I'd like it to be." But, he adds, "I'll take almost any alternative over what we've got now." And on the day the measure passed the House, Shays was standing at Gingrich's side, paying homage with the familiar phrases. "What I had to wrestle with was, in my heart I thought I was a caring person," he said. "But I realized I was a caretaking person. And today, what we have shown is that we are a caring country." And then the unlikely convert concluded with the least likely words: "Newt Gingrich is my hero." Rant, Listen, Exploit, Learn, Scare, Help, Manipulate, Lead, The New York Times, January 28, 1996, Sunday, Late Edition — Final, Newt Gingrich, Section 6; Page 34; Column 1; Magazine Desk, 7786 words, By Jason DeParle New York Yimes
  8. ^ a b Keating, Christopher. "Rep. Shays Facing His Toughest Race in 17 Years; Incumbent's Maverick Image Concerns Fellow Republicans". Hartford Courant. Sep 13, 2004. pg. B.1
  9. ^ a b Buck, Rinker. Out Of Step. The Hartford Courant June 11, 2006.
  10. ^ Seelye, Katharine Q. "House, by Broad Margin, Backs Ban on a Type of Late Abortion'. New York Times. Mar 21, 1997. pg. A.1
  11. ^ Project VoteSmart. Representative Christopher H. Shays (CT): Gun Issues. Retrieved October 9, 2005.
  12. ^ Congressman Christopher Shays. On The Issues. Retrieved October 9, 2006.
  13. ^ D'Arcy, Janice. 4th District House Race Gains Attention. Hartford Courant July 15, 2004. pg. A.17
  14. ^ Congressman Christopher Shays.On the Issues: Animal Welfare. Retrieved October 9, 2006.
  15. ^ Barr, Stephen. "House Bill Would Offer Domestic Partner Benefits to Unmarried Workers". The Washington Post. July 18, 2005. pg. B.02
  16. ^ Associated Press. Pressure builds on DeLay. MSNBC April 11, 2005.
  17. ^ Thomas (Library of Congress): HR 4411
  18. ^ Christopher Shays on Principles & Values. Retrieved October 10, 2006.
  19. ^ Christopher Shays Endorsements. Retrieved October 10, 2006.
  20. ^ Congressman Christopher Shays. Shays, Leader on Environmental Issues, Comments on Global Warming Report. Retrieved October 10, 2006.
  21. ^ Advisory Board — Christopher Shays. Retrieved October 10, 2006.
  22. ^ Associated Press "Rep. Shays Calls for Iraq Withdrawal Time Frame" 24 August 2006
  23. ^
  24. ^ a b Hernandez, Raymond. Congressman Shifts to Favor Iraq Timetable. New York Times August 31, 2006.
  25. ^ "Since U.S. forces attacked in 2003, Rep. Christopher Shays, a moderate Republican from Connecticut's liberal 4th District, has been a stalwart defender of the Iraq war. 'I've been carrying the bucket when it comes to the war,' Shays said in September. But facing an antiwar Democratic opponent in a tough midterm election race, Shays is starting to express reservations. " The Nation; Republicans in Blue States Rethink Iraq; Some conservative defenders of the war, facing opinion polls and antiwar challengers in November, are now talking withdrawal, Los Angeles Times, August 26, 2006 Saturday, Home Edition, Main News; National Desk; Part A; Pg. 12, 931 words, Johanna Neuman, Times Staff Writer, Washington
  26. ^ University of Connecticut CSRA poll. Shays Leads Farrell in Connecticut's 4th District. October 2, 2006.
  27. ^ Urban, Peter "Great progress,' but caution urged." Connecticut Post. April 10, 2003. "Rep. Christopher Shays, R-4, said the fall of Baghdad is 'obviously a healthy sign' but also cautioned that American and coalition forces are still at risk and the task of establishing a permanent peace remains. 'The successes to date are extraordinary. The war plan has been nearly flawless. Now we need to make sure the peace plan rises to the same level,' Shays said. 'If we are able to help them form a government quickly, we will be viewed as liberators. If we are there too long, we will be viewed basically as conquerors.'"
  28. ^ "I think he [The President] has to be willing to be very candid about the mistakes we made in Iraq [to be reelected], disbanding the army, the military and the police, having — not having the State Department not being more culturally sensitive. But we're on the right track now. And, you know, you're allowed to make a few mistakes when you make these big decisions. "Al-Sadr Standoff; Bush Prepping for Convention; Interview With Congressman Christopher Shays, CNN, News from CNN 12:00, August 19, 2004 Thursday, Transcript # 081901CN.V95, News; Domestic, International, 7438 words, Don Shepperd, Christopher Shays, Robin Wright, Jeffrey Gettleman, Wolf Blitzer, Matthew Chance, Elaine Quijano, Christopher Darden
  29. ^ President Bush to Address Nation, CNN, Show: Inside Politics 3:30 PM EST, June 24, 2005 Friday, News; International, 8635 words, Dana Bash, Suzanne Malveaux, Kristy Feig, Jamie McIntyre, Abbi Tatton, Jacki Schechner, Bill Schneider
  30. ^ Video Monitoring Services of America SHOW: The Brad Davis Show July 27, 2005, Wednesday 08:00–10:00 ET Network: WDRC-AM MediumEDIUM: Radio TYPE: Local Radio
  31. ^ Shays stands by controversial comment about Abu Ghraib
  32. ^ Asthana, Anushka. Shays Urges Iraq Withdrawal. The Washington Post August 25, 2006; Page A03.
  33. ^ Clift, Eleanor "Will Voters Buy Shays's Iraq Reversal?" Newsweek. September 16, 2006.
  34. ^ "I'm not distancing myself from the president," he [Shays] said. "I believe this is a war we have to win. The people fighting this war are doing the Lord's work." The Nation; Republicans in Blue States Rethink Iraq; Some conservative defenders of the war, facing opinion polls and antiwar challengers in November, are now talking withdrawal, Los Angeles Times, August 26, 2006 Saturday, Home Edition, Main NewsA; National Desk; Part A; Pg. 12, 931 words, Johanna Neuman, Times Staff Writer, Washington ASHINGTON
  35. ^ "Rep. Christopher Shays (R), Connecticut: Let me just be very clear. First, I totally support the war in Iraq. I believe we have to be engaged militarily, economically, politically 100 percent. I believe it would be an absolutely outrage if we left Iraq right now or prematurely. We would simply — I'm getting talk — people are talking in the background, guys." Iran Nuclear Showdown; War on 'Fascism'; Interview With Congressman Christopher Shays; Storms Strike Both Coasts; New Therapy Promising for Skin Cancer, CNN, Show: The Situation Room 5:00 PM EST, August 31, 2006 Thursday, News; International, 7482 words, John King, Aneesh Raman, Suzanne Malveaux, Jack Cafferty, Zain Verjee, Reynolds Wolf, Anderson Burns, Sanjay Gupta, Jacki Schechner
  36. ^
  37. ^
  38. ^
  39. ^
  40. ^ American Civil Liberties Union. ACLU Campaign Finance Reform Fact Sheet. February 12, 2002. Accessed October 8, 2006
  41. ^ Shays Conducts Oversight of National Security Whistleblower Protections. February 14, 2006. Accessed November 8, 2007
  42. ^ Bipartisan Support Emerges for Federal Whistle-Blowers February 17, 2006. Accessed November 8, 2006
  43. ^
  44. ^

External links

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Stewart McKinney
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Connecticut's 4th congressional district

Succeeded by
Jim Himes

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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