State Rep. Dan Carter, a late entrant into the U.S. Senate race, walked away Monday with the Republican Party’s endorsement at the convention.
One of the three candidates vying for endorsement to challenge U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal removed his name from consideration and gave all his votes to Carter.
Jack Orchulli, a former fashion executive, announced around 9 p.m. that he was giving all of his votes to Carter because having one candidate “is the only way we have a chance of winning.”
Carter, a three-term state representative from Bethel, received a majority of the votes before the end of the first ballot. In the end, he received the support of 907 delegates.
August Wolf, the former Olympian who has been campaigning for the seat for a year, did not receive the 15 percent necessary to force a primary. He received the support of 123 delegates. It was unclear if he will petition his way onto the ballot by collecting signatures from 2 percent of the state’s registered Republicans.
Republican delegates were streaming out of the Connecticut Convention Center before the voting for the U.S. Senate race was completed. After the end of the first ballot most of the delegates who had voted for Wolf or Orchulli switched their votes to Carter.
Wolf had criticized Carter’s entrance into the race. Greg Manz, Wolf’s press secretary, said in April that Carter was a “just another politician and a politician cannot beat Dick Blumenthal.”
But it looks as if the establishment candidate defeated the “outsiders” Monday.
Carter said he saw that the Republican Party needed a candidate and he saw the problems with Wolf’s campaign. Wolf went through at least two campaign teams and the Federal Elections Commission threatened sanctions after the campaign failed to file an end-of-the-year report. Wolf blamed his young and inexperienced campaign staff.
Carter capitalized on the Wolf campaign’s shortcomings.
“I saw an opportunity to have a clear choice at the top of the ticket,” Carter said. “We need the wind in our sails to carry the message that people like Dick Blumenthal and Dan Malloy can’t walk all over this state anymore.”
Carter got into the race in April so it’s unclear how much money he’s raised, but it was enough to host a popular open bar for the delegates Monday.
Carter, a former C-130 Air Force pilot who served in Saudi Arabia in support of operation Desert Storm, said he will work hard every day to make Republicans proud of the campaign.
“We’re going to win because Connecticut is tired of politicians more concerned with their re-election than representing the people who elected them,” Carter said.
Carter said “Dick Blumenthal is about Dick Blumenthal and no one else and we need to retire him so we can finally, finally use those photo ops for a scrapbook.”
He said Blumenthal is concerned about “astroturf” when Americans are struggling to make ends meet and when a madman is launching missiles in North Korea, Blumenthal is “urging the United States to ban genetically modified fish.”
When it came to the vote, Orchulli and Wolf didn’t appear to work the convention floor or twist delegates arms. They sat mostly on the sidelines and watched as the party updated the Google spreadsheet with the delegate count.
Larry Kudlow, the former CNBC commentator who was encouraged to run for the seat, surprised Republicans in February when he announced he wasn’t going to run. Kudlow addressed the 1,182 delegates Monday at the convention and reminded them to “Be Republicans.”