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Connecticut: Simmons Says He’ll Still Honor Convention Vote

Former Rep. Rob Simmons said he continues to believe that the winner of the official party designation at the state GOP convention this weekend should not be forced into a Senate primary this summer.

Simmons made his comments in an interview Tuesday even as he acknowledged that the state’s Senate race had suddenly become more competitive in the wake of a damaging New York Times story about state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal’s (D) military service during the Vietnam War era.

“I have said in the past that I thought it was wise to allow the convention winner to proceed without a divisive primary,” Simmons said. “I think that’s the correct course. I truly do.”

His GOP competitors have been less enthusiastic about abandoning their bids if they lose at the convention, but Simmons said selecting a nominee this weekend will give Republicans the best chance of picking up the seat of retiring Sen. Chris Dodd (D) this fall.

“I have continued to state that I think that’s the best thing for the party,” he said. “At this point in time, we’re just working full time to win the convention.”

Simmons used the Blumenthal incident, which has shaken the Democratic frontrunner and party leaders, to take a shot at his top competitor at the GOP convention this weekend, former World Wrestling Entertainment executive Linda McMahon.

“As far as I understand it, her campaign is taking a lot of credit for what has occurred here involving Mr. Blumenthal,” Simmons said. “She has her own issues.”

Simmons was referring to allegations that McMahon has misrepresented her academic credentials as well as questions about her role in a federal investigation into steroid use by her former employees at the WWE.

McMahon spokesman Ed Patru dismissed Simmons’ comments Tuesday.

“As we’ve seen from Rob Simmons’ free fall in the polls, this is not a year that is going to look kindly on career politicians,” Patru said. “The spotlight is where it belongs. It’s on Dick Blumenthal today, and I think it will be on Dick Blumenthal for a long time.”

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