Democrat Jim Himes has won the race for Connecticut’s 4th Congressional District, defeating Rep. Chris Shays, who had been the last Republican House member left in New England.
With 47 percent of precincts reporting, Himes topped Shays by 15 percentage points, 57 percent to 42 percent.
“I felt that we were going to win this, I really did,” Shays said in his concession speech. “I felt that people were so good to me. But they were deciding they were going to go the other way.”
Himes celebrated his victory at a rally in Norwalk. “We have in many ways changed history tonight,” he said to cheers.
Shays survived several close re-election battles in recent years, but none of them came with Democratic Sen. Barack Obama — the president-elect — on the same line on the ballot as his opponent. Shays said he had no regrets about his campaign against Himes, a former Goldman Sachs vice president and head of an affordable housing non-profit.
“If you think we lost this race because we didn’t go negative, you’re just wrong,” the Republican said. “We lost this race because we did our very best but we had this tsunami that was on its way.”
Shays had represented Connecticut’s 4th Congressional District since 1987. But during the course of the election both candidates have sought to distance themselves from the Republican administration and rally behind Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama.
Himes contoured his campaign in an effort to sway moderate voters away from the Shays camp — a segment of Connecticut voters deemed crucial for victory as race appeared evenly matched.
Connecticut’s 4th Congressional District includes the cities Stamford, Norwalk and Bridgeport in addition to more suburban areas such as Fairfield County.
—The Associated Press contributed reporting.