Economist-turned-politician Peter Schiff qualified for the Republican U.S. Senate primary ballot earlier this week, becoming the only active challenger to wealthy wrestling promoter Linda McMahon in Connecticut’s Aug. 10 primary.
Former U.S. Rep. Rob Simmons of Stonington suspended his campaign last month, but his name will remain on the primary ballot — leading to speculation and charges from the McMahon campaign that the ex-congressman may be waging a “stealth campaign.” Simmons, who reportedly carries around a tea bag with his copy of the U.S. Constitution, had been a favorite among some Connecticut Tea Party activists.
Simmons received 46 percent of the vote at the party’s state convention in May.
Schiff, who served as senior economic advisor to iconoclastic and libertarian-leaning Texas congressman Ron Paul during the 2008 presidential campaign, collected 8,697 valid signatures from registered Republicans — 429 more than needed — to qualify for the ballot.
Schiff’s nominating petitions had been unsuccessfully challenged by a Hartford Tea Party activist.
“Linda McMahon thought securing the nomination would be a cakewalk. But the more Connecticut voters learn about her, the further her favorable rating plummets,” said an increasingly confident sounding Schiff in an e-mail to supporters earlier this week, shortly after learning that he had enough valid signatures to appear on the primary ballot.
“Connecticut Republicans now have an alternative: a wrestling promoter or a businessman and economist,” said Schiff. “Given the state of our economy, I think the choice is clear.
The highly-regarded money manager and president of Euro Pacific Capital is arguably best known for predicting the financial meltdown of 2008 — a crisis, he has long argued, that was caused by ill-conceived monetary and regulatory policies that badly distorted market forces.
Schiff has also been an outspoken critic of the $700 billion bailout of Wall Street.
Warning that “the same irresponsible financial policies that got Wall Street into trouble are now repeating themselves in Washington— only this time on an even bigger scale,” the 47-year-old financial analyst promises to make the economy his top priority, a goal that can only be achieved, he says, by first putting the nation’s fiscal house in order.
The winner of the Aug. 10 GOP primary will face Democrat Richard Blumenthal, who’s been embroiled in a controversy that he deliberately misled the public about his Vietnam-era military service, for the seat currently held by Democrat Chris Dodd, a thirty-year veteran of the U.S. Senate and chairman of the powerful Senate Banking Committee.
Three independent or minor-party candidates have also entered the race, including John Mertens, an engineering professor from Hartford’s Trinity College who’s been struggling to gain media recognition for his long-shot candidacy.