February, 21st 2009

Simmons vs. Dodd?

– Liz Mair

Connecticut’s Hartford Courant has an item suggesting it may just be on:

He hasn't made any announcements yet, but insiders say that Republican Rob Simmons is sounding more and more every day like a candidate for the U.S. Senate.

Simmons is currently unemployed after the Democratic-controlled legislature voted to transfer his job as the state's business advocate to another agency, and he is now looking to the future for a possible race against Democrat Christopher Dodd in 2010.

"I'm definitely interested,'' Simmons told Capitol Watch. "I'm angry about what's going on in Washington, D.C. ... I've worked all my life, and I've watched my IRA go down 50 percent, and I'm luckier than most.''


As far as a final decision on a possible race against Dodd, Simmons says it should be made by the Ides of March.

Back in 2006, a few weeks before the election, I interviewed Simmons about his rematch-race against Joe Courtney (who he ran against in 2002, and who he ultimately lost to by just 83 votes in the most Democratic district then held by a Republican), his achievements in Congress, and his priorities moving forward.  [intro]There were a number of things that really struck me about him, but one was his intelligence and another was the way he discussed the Iraq War—a major issue at the time, and one that his opponent was talking about a lot.  Simmons wasn’t content to stick to the usual well-worn talking points I recall from that time, and he wasn’t content to have a position that I would describe as easy-to-peg (which I’d guess made it a tough position to have, in his race, also). 

But the thing that struck me most about him was his clear, very personal interest in information—getting to the root of things, understanding the reality of a situation.  Simmons underlined in that interview that he was a former CIA officer and a former military intelligence officer, so perhaps it’s not surprising that he told me that with regard to polling, he wanted “the facts,” and to know exactly where he was, “warts and all,” and that with regard to Iraq, he was very focused on several different measurements of progress.  That strikes me as the kind of person who would be really useful in the Senate right now, what with oversight of TARP, the use of stimulus funds and likely future massive appropriations seeming like a big priority—though ultimately, Republicans (and, apparently, a lot of Connecticut voters, full stop) would probably settle for getting rid of the guy on the right here, however they can, just now.

Of course, it bears mentioning that there is the possibility of other contenders entering the race, too, namely State Sen. Sam Caligiuri, the former mayor of Waterbury, Connecticut, and the apparent target of a national libertarian candidate-drafting effort.   When 51% of voters in a given poll say they will "definitely" or "probably" vote against Dodd, it’s hardly a surprise that lots of potential candidates would take a look at this race.  The good news is that for anyone who wants to get rid of Dodd, there should be plenty of good options on the table.




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