Today’s Hartford Courant, the largest newspaper in Connecticut, makes an interesting endorsement today:
Former U.S. Rep. Rob Simmons has a gold-plated public-service resume. His votes over time have been in line with the mostly moderate traditions of the Republican Party in Connecticut.
It is for those reasons that The Courant’s editorial board, with hesitation, recommends that Republican voters in the Aug. 10 primary choose Mr. Simmons to be their standard-bearer in the fall election for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Christopher J. Dodd.
Interesting because, well, it’d be a surprise to many in Connecticut that Rob Simmons will even be on the ballot.
It’d be easy to forget that he’s actually still in the race. Simmons was the front-runner for the Republican nomination before World Wrestling Entertainment CEO Linda McMahon decided to run (and self-fund, at that). After McMahon won the party’s endorsement (different than the upcoming primary, which actually determines the nominee), Simmons basically all but dropped out of the race months ago, and hasn’t kept more than a deputy scheduler and a bookkeeper on staff since.
But, Simmons is still on the ballot, and last weekend, he started running a series of ads to remind people of that: “In the Republican primary on Aug. 10th, you do have a choice. I’m Rob Simmons, I’m still on the ballot, and I approved this message.”
So, why is Simmons so suddenly back in the race? Well, for starters, the Democratic nominee, Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, made a recent gaffe in claiming to have served in Vietnam; Simmons actually did serve in Vietnam. McMahon is also having trouble capturing the enthusiasm of grassroots party activists:
“We didn’t stand outside in the rain and cold so someone could come along with $30 million and buy herself a Senate seat,” says Bob MacGuffie, a local activist who played a role in stoking last year’s nation-wide town hall protests. “Over the past thirty years, she’s focused her mind on an industry that peddles soft-core pornography.”
On Tuesday, Simmons appeared at a candidates forum with another Republican candidate Peter Schiff (McMahon didn’t attend), and made it clear that he’s still running:
“I am running for the U.S. Senate,” adding that he is still an active candidate and that he chose to restart his campaign “because I love my country and I don’t like where it’s going.”
Despite only having a couple of weeks left to make his case and, maybe, try and catch up with McMahon, with the endorsement, at least he is getting some momentum. He’s got some serious catching-up to do, though: according to the most recent Quinnipiac poll of the race, he trails McMahon 52%-25%. And, regardless of who eventually wins the nomination, though, Blumenthal’s going to be tough to catch, as he leads both by at least 17%.