Monday, June 13, 2011

Action In Connecticut Republican Senate Primary - Hotline On Call

From: Hotline On Call

Connecticut's Republican Senate primary, which has been quiet during the past few months, has seen an uptick in action over the past couple of weeks. But there are still more questions than answers about the shape of the GOP contest.

"I can't explain it other than it is the end of the legislative session ... that tends to get people talking about races, now that we've all bludgeoned each other on the budget," said outgoing Connecticut GOP Chair Chris Healy, when asked why there has been a notable increase in activity. "You want to get out there before the summer kicks in and people aren't really paying attention," he added.

Former U.S. Comptroller General David Walker has emerged as a possible candidate in recent weeks. Walker has appeared on national television confirming his interest in the race, and GOP sources have confirmed that he has spoken with Republican leaders in the state.

Meanwhile, former Rep. Chris Shays, R-Conn., told Roll Call late last week that he's "very interested" in running. Shays faced a mountain of debt after he lost in 2008 -- thanks to his campaign manager, who was later sentenced for embezzling campaign funds.

Attorney Brian Hill, who ran in last year's race as an independent write-in candidate, became the first GOP candidate to enter the race, though he hardly appears to be a major threat: he was only able to garner 559 votes in 2010.

Linda McMahon, the wealthy self-funder who lost to now-Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., last year is also considering a bid. And it's also possible that former Rep. Rob Simmons, R-Conn., who ran in the GOP primary last cycle, but lost to McMahon, could run.

"McMahon has been going around, meeting with people, attending a lot of political events," said Healy. "She's been pretty public in her appearances, so she's making all the moves that would indicate she is going to run, but we will see what happens in the next several weeks or months."

McMahon recently said she is giving strong consideration to another run.

Regardless of who emerges from the Republican primary, the race is still very much an uphill climb for the GOP, who faces even more of a headwind in a presidential year.

According to registration and party enrollment statistics from October of 2010, there are 1.8 times as many total Democratic voters as Republican voters, in a blue state where both President Obama and Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., won comfortably in 2008 and 2004, respectively.

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