Peter Schiff, president of Euro Pacific Capital and economic advisor to Ron Paul’s 2008 presidential campaign, is the preferred choice of thirteen percent of likely Republican voters in Connecticut‘s U.S. Senate primary, according to the latest Quinnipiac Poll released on Thursday.
The Quinnipiac Poll showed former World Wrestling Entertainment CEO Linda McMahon — whose favorable ratings barely exceed the 35 percent of Connecticut voters who view her unfavorably — as an overwhelming favorite in the August 10 primary for the seat of retiring U.S. Senator Chris Dodd.
According to Quinnipiac, 45 percent of GOP voters support McMahon while a surprising 29 percent chose former U.S. Rep. Rob Simmons, an inexplicable gain of six percentage points since suspending his campaign on May 25, only a few days after narrowly losing the party’s endorsement at the Republican state convention in Hartford.
Many observers believe that Simmons, a highly-decorated Vietnam veteran, would still be an ideal candidate against Democrat Richard Blumenthal, whose misleading statements about his own military record has suddenly made this race attractive for the GOP — a party that hasn’t won a U.S. Senate contest in Connecticut since 1982 when Lowell Weicker defeated 38-year-old Toby Moffett, a four-term Democratic congressman.
Though withdrawing from the race, Simmons intends to leave his name on the primary ballot, prompting a wide array of pundits — ranging from liberal-loathing lioness Ann Coulter to insightful editorial writer Keith C. Burris — to suggest that the ex-congressman should jump back into the race.
Long after he withdrew from the contest, Coulter so much as begged Sarah Palin — the diva of the Tea Party Express who recently endorsed long-shots Sharron Angle, Nikki Haley and Carly Fiorina, propelling each of them to victory in last week’s primaries — to publicly support Simmons.
Coulter’s right when she says that Blumenthal is vulnerable and she’s probably doubly correct when she argues that all the Republican Party really needs at this point is a candidate who “isn’t inextricably linked to professional frigging wrestling,” particularly in a sophisticated, highly-educated state like Connecticut.
If Palin doesn’t endorse Simmons, asserts Coulter, “Republicans can kiss the possibility of a major upset in Connecticut goodbye.”
Burris was a little more subtle, but equally witty.
“Maybe now Simmons should go to a monastery,” he wrote in yesterday‘s Manchester Journal Inquirer. “Maybe by employing total silence he will pick up the remaining 16 points.”
A revived Simmons candidacy could spell trouble for Schiff, who was looking forward to a head-to-head confrontation with McMahon, an ambitious and driven individual who amassed her personal wealth in the bottom-feeding and choreographed world of professional wrestling, for the Republican nomination.
“There are a lot of people in the Republican Party who are embarrassed by Linda McMahon,” Schiff told the Hartford Courant.
Unlike McMahon and Simmons, both of whom garnered enough support from Republican delegates at last month’s state convention to automatically earn a spot in the primary, Schiff had to mount a petition drive in an effort to place his name on the August 10 primary ballot.
The 47-year-old Schiff, whose nominating petitions were challenged on June 4 by a founding member of the Hartford tea party, had filed an estimated 12,000 signatures with local registrars of voters before last week’s filing deadline. A total of 8,268 signatures — two percent of Connecticut’s registered Republican voters — were required.
The complaint against Schiff’s nominating petitions involve an allegation that a private petitioning firm may have employed out-of-state petition circulators in violation of Connecticut law.
The nationally-known financial analyst, an adherent of the Austrian School of Economics, is confident that his petitions will withstand scrutiny, but in politics, as in life, nothing is guaranteed.
Schiff’s candidacy received a boost last week when he was endorsed by state Sen. John A. Kissell of Enfield, a former Simmons supporter.
According to his campaign web site, Schiff, who has already put $550,000 of his own money into his campaign coffers, has raised more than $2.7 million — not a bad haul, but a drop in the bucket compared to the $50 million of her own fortune that McMahon has said that she’s prepared to spend to win the Senate seat.
“We need a political outsider and a real grassroots candidate, not one who buys grassroots support,” declares Schiff.
In a year of political outsiders, Schiff’s candidacy still has plenty of time to surge.