Rob Simmons’ showed big gains in the primary race in the past few weeks and indications he could challenge Democrat Richard Blumenthal despite a brief and interrupted campaign for the U.S. Senate. But none of that mattered, Simmons noted, if he did not win the primary.
“The numbers did not trend our way tonight,” Simmons said in a concession speech at 9:45 p.m. in front of his Stonington home with his wife, Heidi, by his side.
Simmons called former World Wrestling Entertainment chief executive Linda E. McMahon to congratulate her on her victory and offer his support. Asked if we would be endorsing McMahon, Simmons said, “I have essentially endorsed her tonight by pledging her my support.”
While the two had some disagreements during the campaign, Simmons noted, “Now it’s time to bind up the wounds and move on.” He added he would not run as an independent.
The former three-term representative from the second congressional district, Simmons returned to the race a few weeks ago. He had dropped out after the Republicans endorsed McMahon at the party’s May convention.
Polls indicating he could challenge McMahon and Peter Schiff prompted Simmons to re-enter the race. In the days before the primary, Simmons significantly closed the gap between he and McMahon while Schiff continued to trail both.
While realistic about his chances, Simmons said that some wrote him off too early. “People have been asking me, ‘Will you support Linda McMahon when she wins?’ he said before the results were in, “and I’ve been saying, ‘What about me?’”
Prior to the polls closing, Simmons talked with reporters in his Stonington home, with sun glinting off Quanaduck Cove framed in the windows behind him.
He joked that he did not expect it be a long night. “The miracle is if we win the primary.” Simmons said he and his wife spent the day touring the state after voting at 6 a.m. because he was determined to set foot in every district.
Simmons said he did not regret his decision to put his campaign on hold after the disappointment of not getting the party’s backing. “I bet the farm on the convention — I needed the support and the funds. I was out in the open, and as a military guy, I know you can’t sit in the open. You have to regroup.”
What he would change if he could, Simmons said, is the practice of having both a convention and a primary. It makes more sense to eliminate the convention and just hold primaries in May, when people might be less distracted by summer heat and vacations, he maintained.
Campaign funding also needs re-tooling, Simmons said. He was at a disadvantage against McMahon who has revenue from the profitable WWE at her disposal, which could be seen as a special interest group, he argued.