Better Congress
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Rep. Jim Himes of Connecticut represents the 23rd-richest congressional district in the country, but that doesn’t prevent the Bernie Sanders-supporting Roots Action organization from describing his constituents as “largely middle class.” Perhaps it is largely middle class, but it also includes some of the most obscenely wealthy communities in the country, including Greenwich, Darien, and Westport. One of the stranger aspects of the 2016 election was how these southwestern Connecticut, old money Yankee communities defected from the Republican candidate in large numbers.

Roots Action is targeting Himes in a new report they’ve put out of 15 House Democrats they’d like to defeat in a primary. The section on Himes notes that he used to work at Goldman Sachs, has gotten a lot of support from the financial services industry, and has been a fairly reliable friend to Wall Street even in the aftermath of the 2007-8 economic collapse. That’s pretty standard stuff, and I don’t have any substantive problem with the idea that Himes is far from a progressive Democrat on economic issues. If I have a quibble, it’s that he’s representing a bunch of incredibly wealthy people who are now voting Democratic, much like his colleague Josh Gottheimer in New Jersey’s 5th District (who is also on their list). It’s misleading to suggest that these districts are historically Democratic or that they’re typified by some kind of middle class ethos.

Nonetheless, it could be true that these districts have turned so hard against Trump that they’d support much more progressive representatives in Congress. The hope is that by issuing a warning shot, Roots Action will get better responsiveness to the needs of ordinary citizens, and that seems like it could make this a worthwhile effort.

Himes may have a different idea about how to cover his flank, however, as he’s just come out in favor of opening an impeachment inquiry. He serves on the House Intelligence Committee, so he has more information than most about full contents of the Mueller Report and other classified aspects of the Trump-Russia investigation. He’s also getting a firsthand taste of how Trump’s unprecedented obstruction is impeding congressional oversight. That he’s coming out for a formal inquiry may be based solely on the merits, but it could also be in reaction to having a big target put on his back by Roots Action.

Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly. See all his writing at