Conn. Senate dropout reminds voters he’s on ballot – Yahoo! News

HARTFORD, Conn. – Former U.S. Rep. Rob Simmons plans to run a campaign ad reminding voters that he’s still on the Republican primary ballot in Connecticut’s U.S. Senate race, a fresh sign that the campaign dropout may return.

Simmons on Wednesday told The Associated Press that he decided Tuesday night to run the ad, which he’s calling “a public service announcement,” beginning this weekend. Simmons said many of his supporters don’t know his name is still on the Aug. 10 primary ballot, despite his announcement in May that he was “curtailing” his campaign after former wrestling executive Linda McMahon won the state Republican endorsement.

“I felt that it was a fair thing and a loyal thing to my supporters to let them know that I was on the ballot,” he said.

Simmons said he was not officially restarting his Senate campaign. While he still has a mostly empty campaign office and a phone line, nearly all his staff have moved on to work for other candidates.

“However it works out, it remains to be seen,” he said. Simmons still has about $700,000 in his campaign account and did not rule out additional ads. According to a private public relations firm hired by Simmons, the ad buy cost approximately $350,000 and will run statewide.

Besides McMahon, financial expert Peter Schiff has been campaigning for the Republican nomination.

Some of Simmons’ supporters, many from his former eastern Connecticut congressional district, have been urging him to return to the race and challenge the wealthy McMahon, whose World Wrestling Entertainment and its programming have been criticized by the Democrats.

A Facebook page dubbed “Vote Simmons in the Primary” surfaced shortly after the GOP convention and national conservative commentator Ann Coulter recently suggested Simmons should run, given McMahon’s history with the WWE.

Simmons has vacillated about whether he’s in or out of the race.

Before the May convention, he said he would not remain in the race if he was not endorsed. But after McMahon surprised many of the party faithful by winning the party’s backing, Simmons vowed that night to continue. Several days later, he announced he was “curtailing” his campaign, acknowledging it would be difficult to compete with McMahon’s $50 million.

When asked by a Hartford Courant columnist last week about whether he might restart his campaign, Simmons said he was “thinking about it.” But he later told the AP that any speculation about his return to the race was just “chatter.”

“Over the past two months, he’s been engaged in a very strange and erratic effort to reconcile his promise not to run with his desire to return to Washington,” McMahon spokesman Ed Patru said in a statement Wednesday. “Today, we are as confused as everyone else.”

In his ad, Simmons does not mention McMahon or Schiff. Rather, he sits on a stool and talks about the importance of voting “with your heart and your head,” mentioning how bailouts and tax increases have crippled the economy and cost jobs. He talks about the importance of small business, national security and the importance of backing a candidate who will be an advocate for veterans.

Simmons is a Vietnam War veteran. The endorsed Democratic candidate, Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, has come under fire for misspeaking about his military service.

“In the Republican primary on Aug. 10th, you do have a choice,” he tells the audience.

Simmons brushed aside a question about whether his ad might anger some Republicans who are trying to rally support behind one candidate in hopes of finally winning the seat currently held by the retiring U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd.

“I’ve been in political life for 20 years. I’m accustomed to some people not being happy with me,” he said. “It’s just the way it is.”

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