Jim Himes Would Sorta Like People to Forget He Worked on Wall Street

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Himes. Photo: Christopher Capozziello/Getty Images

The congressman from Connecticut not only worked on Wall Street, he was in the belly of the beast, Goldman Sachs, for a dozen years. When Himes first entered politics, reports the Times, his finance experience was a selling point for the Democrat. It also helped him raise some campaign cash; he got more than $500,000 from other finance types, and $150,000 from Goldman employees alone.

Himes just so happens to represent the district with the highest concentration of millionaires in the nation, and so you might think his Wall Street ties aren't such a bad thing. But times are different in 2011 and the era of Obama's proposed Buffett tax on millionaires. He's getting angry calls from constituents — not to complain about fat-cat bankers, but to complain about all the other people beating up on fat-cat bankers. It makes his job tough:


But Mr. Himes also said that the emotions stirred up by the financial crisis had made reforming Wall Street using his preferred method — logical, Spock-like analysis — nearly impossible.

“You don’t always feel it in Greenwich or the Upper East Side, but there’s a huge emotional dislocation out there,” he said. “Americans think this is an unproductive sector, and it’s a little hard to talk about capital formation in the context of the emotion.”

Himes, a former Ralph Lauren model and Rhodes Scholar with "a neat side part, a sharp jaw and the trim physique of a former Harvard lightweight crew captain," is trying to work on non-finance-related legislation. It's an effort, perhaps, to remake his image slightly, while "staking out middle ground" on issues like carried interest and derivatives regulation. But that's not the only way he's remaking his image. Himes also "wears a blue woven bead bracelet given to him by a Zen master." "[M]y whole being is about having a fairly cool conversation about what’s happening," he explains to the Times. So now instead of telegraphing a "preppy rich guy" vibe, Himes is telegraphing a "preppy rich guy interpreting what it means to be slightly alternative" vibe. This almost always involves woven jewelry.

Wall Street Ties Bring Peril for Democratic Lawmaker [Dealbook/NYT]