Connecticut Republicans received some welcome news from their national colleagues Wednesday night - "We need to recover 10 US Senate seats, Connecticut is definitely in play, and only Rob Simmons can win!"
The message was delivered by national Republican strategist Dick Morris to an enthusiastic crowd at a jam-packed, high-end fund-raiser for Simmons at a private home in Greenwich. Surrounded by couples and individuals who made significant contributions to attend - the minimum suggested donation was $1,000 - Morris waxed prolific on the status of national politics and how Connecticut fits into the overall puzzle.
But Morris really caught the crowd's attention when he delivered the welcome news that on the national level Democratic Attorney General Richard Blumenthal is considered not just vulnerable, but beatable - if Simmons emerges as the GOP candidate. Otherwise, the country will continue its downward financial spiral that will result in annual deficits in the trillions of dollars within a few years.
Referring to the current health-care debacle, which ultimately will cost tens of thousands of jobs nationally, many of them in Connecticut, as well as other out-of-control spending initiatives forced on Americans by Barack Obama and the Democratic Congress, Morris said it is not enough to win back nine Senate seats.
"Joe Biden will just keep coming down to break the tie," Morris noted. But by recovering 10 Senate seats, a Republican majority can hold the line on any further efforts to turn America into a European-style socialist government (or for that matter a Chinese-style communist government), and halt the Obama Administration's headlong plunge into financial ruin.
Morris also displayed an in-depth knowledge of Blumenthal's political history and especially his weaknesses. Simmons noted that Blumenthal has not run a seriously contested campaign in well over a decade, but that will end this fall if Simmons wins the GOP nomination.
On that issue Morris made no effort to hide his disdain for the campaign of Simmons' main opponent, Linda McMahon, the former CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment, who took a leave from her job last year to run for the Senate seat. But that was when incumbent Senator Chris Dodd was still thought to be the Democrats' candidate. Dodd has since announced his retirement and Blumenthal - considered much tougher to beat than Dodd - has emerged as the front-runner for the Democrat nomination.
Until last year McMahon also was considered a major contributor to Democratic candidates and Political Action Committees, including Rahm Emanuel who was working for Obama's election and now serves as his White House Chief of Staff. But McMahon now says she will spend as much as $50-million of her vast fortune to convince voters that she should be a Republican Senator.
If the reaction of the Republicans in Greenwich Wednesday night is an accurate barometer, McMahon may have had some success in fooling the general public with her millions of dollars worth of mass mailings and television commercials, but not Republican leaders and especially Republican contributors.
Many in the crowd discussed McMahon's contributions to Democratic causes, which helped eliminate all Republican Congressional representatives in Connecticut, giving Democrats just enough votes to pass Obama's nationalization of the health care insurance industry.
Other comments focused on McMahon's most recent headlines involving the name of her luxury yacht - The Sexy B**ch! When questioned by reporters on the name of her yacht, McMahon's campaign initially responded that Sexy B**ch is OK with the US Coast Guard which approved the name, thus it should be OK with everyone else. That statement was followed by a clarification that the name Sexy B**ch came from McMahon's husband Vincent, presumably meaning if it is OK with him it is OK with her!
The upshot of the evening's commentary was that a McMahon candidacy would be a disaster, leading to a certain Blumenthal victory, but that Simmons' extensive experience in economic issues, national security, and foreign relations would give him the edge over Blumenthal. The message was received with an enthusiasm that has been lacking in Connecticut's GOP ranks in recent months.
Some GOP insiders, buying into the Democrats' propaganda that Blumenthal is invincible, have been saying they should just nominate McMahon, even though she is a sure loser, to take advantage of - and presumably get their hands on - some of the millions she will spend on her campaign.
But with national Republicans supporting Simmons, and spreading the message that Blumenthal can be beaten - and must be beaten - the defeatist strategy of conceding the Senate seat to Blumenthal while separating McMahon from a large chunk of her wrestling fortune loses whatever minimal credibility it may have had.
Simmons still has a long way to go, first by winning the nomination at the May GOP convention, and then beating McMahon in the primary that she threatens to wage in the summer.
Some of those who seem willing to throw the state and the nation to the dogs just to line their own pockets also are claiming that Simmons needs to match McMahon dollar per dollar to win the nomination. That isn't necessarily true. He will have to spend more money on advertising to the wider party membership of course, but so far his battle is within the party, and particularly with those who will be delegates to the May convention.
McMahon meanwhile has been advertising to the general public and spreading some of her funds around to Republican Town Committees in the state, apparently hoping it will bring her some goodwill and delegates. (Officially the donations to RTCs - typically in the range of $250 to $500 - are to help elect municipal candidates in the November 2011 elections 18 months from now - not to attract votes for the 2010 convention, primary and election. Oh, and McMahon gave $500 to the chairman of my local town committee last month, but this month the committee voted unanimously to give it right back!)
Nonetheless if Wednesday's gathering in Greenwich is an indicator of things to come, Simmons will be on the receiving end of some serious assistance from national-level Republicans if it comes down to a primary battle, and beyond if he emerges victorious.
McMahon, despite her tens of millions of personal wealth to spend on a job that pays $174,000, can't even begin to compete with Simmons on the numbers of people who have supported their campaigns. She apparently will go it alone, with the vocal backing of some Connecticut Republicans, especially those on her payroll, but little in the way of meaningful support.
Friday, April 02, 2010