Christine Stuart photo
Rob Simmons (Christine Stuart photo )

Former U.S. Rep. Rob Simmons, one of the Republicans who is challenging U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd for his seat in 2010, said Friday that he is not convinced Dodd has cleared up the controversy over how an executive bonus loophole got in the stimulus bill.

But Simmons also said he doesn’t think that the loophole flap is Dodd’s biggest problem when it comes to his public image.

Simmons, who has yet to file the necessary campaign paperwork with the Federal Election Commission to formalize his candidacy, said from Dodd’s short-lived campaign for president in Iowa to the mortgage rates he received from disgraced lender Countrywide, “people are really concerned about whether he may have lost touch with Connecticut.”

Simmons, who said he plans to officially launch his campaign before April 15, said he is hearing that Dodd has been in Washington too long and that they’re looking for a change.

“What the nature of that change is going to be is for the public to decide,” Simmons said, alluding to other potential candidates who may throw their hat in the race.

Simmons said he’s been in touch with others interested in running against Dodd, and they’ve all agreed to keep the campaign focused on Dodd. “If we divide ourselves, we lose,” Simmons said.

State Sen. Sam Caligiuri, R-Waterbury, has filed his papers with the Federal Election Commission to run against Dodd and CNBC-TV host Larry Kudlow also has expressed interest.

Simmons estimated that he would need to raise about $5 million for his campaign.

A recent Quinnipiac University poll showed Simmons and Dodd in a statistical dead heat, but that poll was conducted before Dodd’s latest controversy this week.

Dodd, who has been spending a lot of time in Connecticut lately, said Friday morning during a taping of CPTV’s “On the Record”, that he intends to run for re-election in 2010.

He said there used to be a season for campaigns, but now it seems there’s a permanent campaign. He said he’s in that campaign now, but that it is secondary to his policy work in the Senate.

“There’s season for politics, a season for campaigning. In my view we’re not in that yet,” Dodd said referring to the campaign season.

“I think the last thing people are worried about is my job. They’re worried about whether or not I’m worried about their job,” Dodd said.

So how will Dodd recover from all of these political blows?

“Doing my job is the only way I know how to restore that confidence,” Dodd said.