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Norwalk Couple Leads Anti-GOP Protest

FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. – A Norwalk couple is leading a Saturday morning protest on a bridge at the Fairfield-Bridgeport border against the Republicans’ bold redistricting plan to take Bridgeport out of the Fourth Congressional District, now represented by Democratic Congressman Jim Himes.

The protest is planned for 11 a.m. at the Fairfield Avenue (Route 130) bridge over Ash Creek that connects the Black Rock section of Bridgeport and the town of Fairfield.

As part of the once-a-decade update of voting districts, state Republicans have proposed moving Bridgeport out of the 4th Congressional District, which covers southern Fairfield County, and into the 3rd District, which is dominated by New Haven

Kate Tepper, chairwoman of the Fairfield County chapter of Democracy for America, and her husband, Scott Kimmich, the group’s spokesman, said the grassroots group organized the protest to send a message to legislators

"Ever since the first Congressional district lines were drawn back in the late 1800s, Bridgeport, Norwalk and Stamford have been represented together in Congress," said Tepper. "Now there's a proposal to split the district and lump in Bridgeport with New Haven. It's unnecessary and undemocratic, and it's motivated by a desire for partisan advantage rather than the needs of the people."

Protestors plan to link hands across the bridge to symbolize the connection between Bridgeport and the rest of the fourth Congressional District.

"Breaking up is hard to do," said Terry Masters, a MoveOn regional organizer who will take part in the protest. "Bridgeport is part of Fairfield County, and together we bring balance to our region's voice in Congress."

Kimmich, a member of the Democratic Town Committee in Norwalk, said “we chose that location because it will provide a powerful symbol that the voters who live here don’t want this to happen.”

Kimmich said his group is part of the national organization originally founded by former presidential candidate and Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean.

“We have had both Republican and Democratic representation that proves this is a balanced district,” said Kimmich. “But if Bridgeport were removed, we would have non-stop Republicans representing the district for a long time.”

The proposal is being advanced by House Minority Leader Larry Cafero, R-Norwalk, co-chairman of the legislature’s Redistricting Commission, and State Senate Minority Leader John McKinney, R-Fairfield, also a member of the panel.

Cafero insists the change would provide more minority representation throughout all five state Congressional districts, while Democrats say it would greatly reduce minority representation in the fourth district.

Democrats and Republicans alike believe such a major map change could cost Himes re-election to a third term. Himes, a Democrat from Greenwich, won election in 2008 and 2010 with overwhelming voter support in heavily Democratic Bridgeport, the state's largest city, and in Stamford, another Democratic stronghold.

The district currently includes 17 towns and cities, including Stamford, Norwalk, Darien, Easton, Fairfield, Greenwich, New Canaan, Weston, Westport and Wilton.

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