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4TH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT: Candidate Chris Meek says he will ‘stir things up’ in Washington

Congressional candidate Chris Meek is considered the favorite among several candidates running for the Republican Party’s nomination for the House of Representatives. He, along with Westport resident Steve Obsitnik, are heading into the party’s state convention on May 18 at the Hartford Convention Center.

In what is expected to be a tight race for support from the party, Mr. Meek told the Greenwich Post (sister paper to The Forum) that he is confident in his base of support. Mr. Meek has received some notable endorsements, including from former Lt. Gov. Mike Fedele. Locally he has the support of State Rep. Livvy Floren (R-149), Selectman David Theis and Greenwich resident Charles Glazer, a former U.S. ambassador to El Salvador.

The candidate who wins the party’s nomination will compete with U.S. Rep. Jim Himes (D-4) in the Nov. 6 election. Mr. Himes, a Cos Cob resident who is running unopposed for the Democratic nomination, was first elected in 2008 as part of a Democratic wave that has left the party in complete control of all New England seats in the House of Representatives for the past four years. Should he win again, Mr. Himes will serve his third term as representative.

Financial roots

Mr. Himes and Mr. Meek share similar backgrounds. They both have backgrounds at Goldman Sachs and started working in non-profits before entering politics.

But Mr. Meek said that’s where the similarities end. Mr. Meek accuses Mr. Himes of not having a track record of accomplishment after four years in Congress, and only coming back to the district “in springtime of an election year.” He said he will be able to appeal to voters based on his track record of “rolling up his sleeves and actually working directly with the people” on the issues impacting their lives.

Mr. Meek emphasizes his nearly 20 years in the financial services industry and his work founding non-profits, including STARTNow to help people avoid foreclosure, and SoldierSocks, which had people sending needed socks to soldiers overseas in remote locations where regular showers are not possible.

Economy and jobs

The economy and jobs are the primary focuses of the Meek campaign. Mr. Meek points to his own non-profit work with his statewide program, which he claims has helped close to 250 Connecticut families modify their home loans, as evidence he knows how to help those who are struggling.

Mr. Meek said that while Mr. Himes has served four years on the House of Representatives’ Financial Services Committee, his work on the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill has proven harmful. According to Mr. Meek, Dodd-Frank is “single-handedly destroying the financial services industry” and said Mr. Himes has “turned his back” on an industry that makes up so much of the constituency of the 4th District. Mr. Meek agreed that there needs to be protection of homeowners to keep the mistakes of the financial disaster of 2008 from happening again, but said Dodd-Frank is not the solution and instead a more scaled back, common sense regulation is needed including better separation of commercial banking from investment banking and more transparency to help small, independently owned businesses.

“Dodd-Frank really has nothing to do with what led up to the crisis,” Mr. Meek said. “It actually just had to do with what happened at the peak of the crisis. It needs to be scrapped and we need to start over.”

Health care

With all eyes on the Supreme Court’s upcoming decision on President Obama’s health care reform legislation, there seems to be a strong possibility that essentially the reset button will be hit. If elected this fall, Mr. Meek said he does support an agenda that offers everyone access to health care.

“I believe everyone should have access to health care,” he said. “But putting something that’s full of earmarks that people just pass without knowing what’s in it is not the way to go. Like financial reform, you need to have something with much more transparency where people are going to know where the costs are going to come from.”

Mr. Meek said there are pieces of plans that are out there that are good and that if the entire reform package is scrapped by the Supreme Court, there would have to be a concerted effort of Democrats working with Republicans to put an alternate plan together.

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