Thursday, November 09, 2006

Too close to call

They’ve got an extremely close election in the 2nd Congressional District of Connecticut - again.
Democrat Joe Courtney is currently leading incumbent Republican Rob Simmons by a razor-thin 170 votes. But if you think that is close, it doesn’t compare to the 1994 race when Democrat Sam Gejdenson just squeaked by Republican Ed Munster with 21 votes - the smallest margin of difference ever recorded in a House race.
That was the rematch race between Gejdenson and Munster. I was there for the first go around in 1992 when Gejdenson bested Munster by a more comfortable 3,700-vote margin. I was a reporter for the Old Saybrook Pictorial Gazette at the time, part of the Shoreline Times chain of weekly papers, and I was covering the 2nd District race along with all the other elections that year (that was also the year I got to hear candidate Bill Clinton give a talk to the Middletown Chamber of Commerce that blew everyone away).
Gejdenson wasn’t supposed to have such a hard time but the district was starting to trend Republican that year and if he had had a more charismatic challenger he might have lost that year. But poor Ed Munster had a couple of things going against him that were beyond his control. First was his name that just reminded everyone of Fred “Herman Munster” Gwynne from the 1960s television show The Munsters. But if Munster had at least looked like Fred Gwynne he might have had a chance. Instead, he was a dead ringer for Michael Dukakis, someone who was not too popular in Republican circles and a fact which brought snickers from most Democrats.
Gejdenson managed to hang onto the seat until 2000 when he finally lost to Simmons. Now it appears that the evenly divided district is about to lean back the other way.
Assuming that Courtney hangs on and ousts Simmons, it will leave Christopher Shays as the sole Republican House member from all of New England (Conn., Mass., R.I., N.H., Vt., Maine).

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