|U.S. Rep. Jim Maloney (Democrat)|
Democratic U.S. Rep. Jim Maloney is a seasoned politician relying on his trademark tough talk and local pride in the race to represent the newly drawn 5th District in Connecticut.
Born in Massachusetts, Maloney grew up in Danbury and holds a bachelor's degree from Harvard and a law degree from Boston University. After law school, Maloney served as a Vista volunteer, headed the Danbury Anti-Poverty Agency and practiced law with a private firm.
In 1986, Maloney was elected to his first public position in the Connecticut state Senate, a body in which he would serve for seven years. In 1994, he decided to shift his aim to Washington and the 5th District congressional seat held by Gary Franks, the only black Republican in the House at the time. Maloney lost to Franks, but kept him to a 52 to 46 percent margin -- the second-lowest showing for a Republican incumbent in that year's election, according to the Almanac for American Politics.
Maloney challenged Franks again in 1996, and this time Franks found himself in the midst of a backlash for his calling then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich a liar for not delivering on a promise to bring an affirmative action bill to a floor vote. Maloney, meanwhile, sailed through the Democratic primary after his opponent dropped out and stuck by a mostly conservative platform of balanced budgets and welfare reform. He also went after Franks with an aggressive media campaign and criticized Franks' acceptance of a $100,000 advance as part of a book deal.
Maloney's blunt, tough talking ways set him apart so much so that John Whitesides of Reuters recently observed that Maloney "looks more like a bartender than a politician." His down-to-earth style particularly appealed to the blue-collar industrial workers of the district, and he went on to defeat Franks in the general election 52 to 46 percent.
While in the House, Maloney has maintained a moderate record, voting to ban "partial birth" abortions and against permanent trade relations with China. A strong proponent of tax cuts and balanced budgets, Maloney's campaign biography proudly boasts that he was the only Connecticut Democrat to support a number of tax relief acts, including a constitutional amendment that would have required a two-thirds majority in Congress to raise taxes.
In 1998, Maloney faced tough re-election opposition from Republican state Senator Mark Nielsen. Nielsen was well financed and his opponent for the GOP nomination dropped out before the primary as the Democratic Party was reeling from the impeachment scandal surrounding then-President Bill Clinton. Nielsen accused Maloney of ultimately raising rather than lowering taxes while he was in the state Senate. Maloney's camp responded with ads portraying Nielsen as an extremist. Maloney went on to win in the general election, but by a slim 2,500 votes, a 50 to 48 percent margin.
Nielsen challenged Maloney again in 2000 and left no stone unturned in the race. Nielsen's tactics included showing up at Maloney's fundraisers and rallies to offer immediate response to his speeches and positions. The two candidates again traded a barrage of accusations through TV ads, including a Nielsen ad that depicted Maloney as a puppet being pulled by union strings. Maloney had stayed true to his moderate voting record since the 1998 race and was one of only five Democrats to vote for a Republican prescription drug plan. He again defeated Nielsen, this time by a solid 54 to 44 percent margin.
After the 2000 census, Connecticut lost a seat in the House, pitting Maloney against another seasoned incumbent -- U.S. Rep. Nancy Johnson, a moderate Republican. The race between these two veteran campaigners will again have Maloney fighting for the middle ground as well as attempting to appeal to a new combination of constituents.
Maloney and his wife Mary have three daughters and reside in Danbury.
--By Maureen Hoch, Online NewsHour