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Rob Simmons downplays talk of Senate reentry (and for good reason)

By Aaron Blake

Former Connecticut Republican Rep. Rob Simmons -- through a surrogate -- dismissed chatter that he might re-enter the state's Senate race, speculation he set off Wednesday in an interview with a local reporter.

"I'm thinking about it,'' Simmons told the Hartford Courant's Rick Green yesterday. "I'm trying to think about what's right what's honest and what's decent."

But now Simmons is backing off a bit. In a statement provided to The Fix, former campaign manager Jim Barnett says Simmons is not secretly waging a comeback.

"Nothing has changed for Rob," Barnett said. "He gets frequent appeals from friends, allies, donors and people he otherwise holds in high regard, and he feels he owes it to them to consider their thoughts and concerns. But he has no plans to reengage."

Simmons left the race in late May, leaving former World Wrestling Entertainment CEO Linda McMahon as the presumptive GOP nominee. But ever since, there have been (not so) subtle suggestions that he might not be completely finished -- starting with the fact that Simmons suspended rather than ended his campaign.

Politically, there is little impetus for Simmons to get back into the race.

Way back in May, we wrote about what might need to happen to give Simmons the justification to re-run.

A quick refresher course (with updates!):

* A shoe drops on McMahon: We haven't seen it in the nearly two months since Simmons dropped out, and it's not clear who would be pushing such a story. Primary opponent Peter Schiff's campaign hasn't exactly impressed anyone, and if Democratic candidate Richard Blumenthal has anything (more) juicy on the controversial McMahon, he's likely to save it for the general election.

* Schiff lights a fire: Schiff has stirred some excitement in the Tea Party in the early days of the race. But, the Simmons' dream scenario of Schiff emerging as a serious candidate and spending to attack McMahon -- and open the door for someone to shoot up the middle -- simply hasn't materialized.

* Democrats attack: There has been a steady drumbeat of anti McMahon stories -- primarily focused on an alleged tolerance for rampant steroid abuse -- but while Democrats have made sure that reporters are aware of those pieces, there hasn't been an all-out effort to drive McMahon out. That likely reflects the belief that McMahon's background provides a treasure trove of general election opposition research for state Attorney General Dick Blumenthal and national Democrats.

Simmons didn't have much reason to stay in the race in late May, and he's got even less reason to jump back in now with the primary rapidly approaching.

By The Fix  |  July 15, 2010; 12:34 PM ET
Categories:  Senate  
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Mr. Simmons has no chance of winning the general election or the GOP primary - but a 'surprise' second place finish, achieved with 'actively' campaigning, would set him up to take on Lieberman in 2012.

That's why he is being so coy. He just wants to stay in the mix so he can lay claim to the 2012 race.

With a million dollars in the bank, he can make some modest contributions to buy some good will, continue to make speeches and appearances, and be well positioned for 2012.

Posted by: george371 | July 15, 2010 5:12 PM | Report abuse

Also, Margaret, once teatards who won primaries start losing in the general, the Rs perhaps will see that the Rs who are winning elections, like Brown, are those who are moderate and can cooperate on important issues facing the country, like financial regulation and perhaps more votes will be available.

Posted by: drindl | July 15, 2010 4:03 PM | Report abuse

The Democrats seem to be quite able to pick up 3 regular votes in the Senate on their big legislation. Snowe, Collins and Brown are there when they are needed.

Posted by: margaretmeyers | July 15, 2010 2:37 PM | Report abuse

I believe in environment - I don't believe the Republicans have much of a chance in California.

On the other side - I believe that Wisconsin, a traditional swing state, is in play.

Linda McMahon is spending a great deal of money - and Blumenthal has lost his image that he once had.

Although McMahon is down in the polls, her money will still keep her in the race. There is a great deal of resistance to her out there - people do not want to vote for a WWE person -

Blumenthal is a stiff character - and he really should have dropped out when it was discovered he lied about Vietnam.

So the truth is you have two candidates who simply no one wants - not a really good situation.


Posted by: YouCanPostThis | July 15, 2010 2:13 PM | Report abuse

To retain control, Democrats need at least 50 seats. They start with 45 seats that are safe or not up for election this year, and there are three more races (NY, CT, and OR) that they are likely to win, for a total of 48. (The comparable number for Republicans is 41.) That leaves 11 seats in play. Here they are, along with the most recent survey results:

CA Fiorina (R) 47, Boxer (D) 45
CO Buck (R) 48, Bennet (D) 39
FL Rubio (R) 36, Crist (I) 34, Meek (D) 15
IL Giannoulias (D) 40, Kirk (R) 39
KY Paul (R) 43, Conway (D) 43
MO Blunt (R) 48, Carnahan (D) 43
NV Angle (R) 48, Reid (D) 41
OH Portman (R) 43, Fisher (D) 39
PA Toomey (R) 45, Sestak (D) 39
WA Murray (D) 47, Rossi (R) 47
WI Feingold (D) 45, Johnson (R) 43
Apply whatever discount you want to individual surveys of varying quality and provenance; the overall picture is pretty clear. A few things stand out:

· Barbara Boxer is really in trouble, and it’s part of a larger California story: The most recent survey had Meg Whitman up seven over Jerry Brown in the gubernatorial contest.
· Patty Murray and Russ Feingold are fighting for their political lives.
· Colorado has been moving away from the Democratic Party since early in the Obama administration, and intra-party squabbling over the Senate nomination has increased the odds against Bennet.
· The surge some expected toward Harry Reid after the Republicans nominated an “out-of-the-mainstream” candidate has not yet materialized.
· Illinois's “deep-blue” status may not be enough to counteract the effects of a weak Democratic nominee.

Posted by: present-and-unaccounted-for | July 15, 2010 1:58 PM | Report abuse

It also might be that Simmons knows that Blumenthal is going to win and he is saving his energy to take on Liebermann in few years. He also may be waiting to see if Liebermann even runs again.

Posted by: AndyR3 | July 15, 2010 1:35 PM | Report abuse

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