Christopher Shays, a veteran Republican state legislator, won a special election by a surprising 57.2% margin to fill the congressional seat left vacant by the AIDS-related death of Rep. Stewart B. McKinney.
Shays' 13,000-vote margin Tuesday over Democrat Christine Niedermeier maintained a 20-year GOP hold on the state's mostly well-to-do 4th District.
"Stew McKinney is smiling," declared Sen. Lowell P. Weicker Jr. (R-Conn.) as he introduced Shays, 41, at a Stamford hotel Tuesday night. "You've elected a man of principle, a man of integrity and a man of compassion."
Shays, a Stamford real estate agent, attributed his win to the hundreds of volunteers who had worked on his monthlong campaign.
Shays, a 13-year veteran of the state House, was elected to serve the remaining 11 months of McKinney's term representing nine towns in lower Fairfield County, an area of wealthy New York suburbs as well as Bridgeport, one of the nation's poorest cities.
McKinney, a Westport Republican, was serving his ninth term when he died May 7 from complications related to AIDS. He was the first member of Congress to die from the disease.