Christine Stuart photo

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Dan Carter joked he made his campaign staff a little nervous by telling them he was ditching the script and was going “rogue” in his pitch to 240 AFL-CIO delegates at their annual convention.

But he really had nothing to lose.

“I know it’s pretty slim I’m going to get the endorsement here today,” Carter said.

He was right. It took about 20 seconds for the delegates to give their support to U.S. Richard Blumenthal.

Carter said he saw that the unions gave him a 38 percent lifetime score on votes he’s taken over his legislative career.

And while he might differ with the unions from time-to-time, he said he doesn’t believe that unions are the problem. “I think that’s crap,” Carter said.

A former C-130 pilot who worked for 15 years for Pfizer, Carter said that as Connecticut’s U.S. Senator he would treat everyone fairly even though he might not always agree with them.

“I’m not the person selling this state down the river with respect to the economy,” Carter said.

He said Blumenthal was on television the other day talking about the National Defense Authorization Act, which will fund a number of defense manufacturers in Connecticut. Carter said that’s great, but what happens if those companies decide to leave.

“The problem is if those companies don’t stay in the state — we lose,” Carter said.

He said he supports higher wages, but thinks growing the economy and making sure Connecticut companies stay in Connecticut is a better route than simply boosting wages.

According to a Quinnipiac University poll released this week, Blumenthal would beat Carter with 60 percent of the vote. Eighty-four percent of the voters surveyed haven’t heard enough about the state representative from Bethel to form an opinion of him.

Christine Stuart photo

Blumenthal, who is seeking a second term, was initially unable to attend the convention in person because the U.S. Senate was in session and discussing the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017.

But Blumenthal was able to get back from Washington to address the delegates moments before the convention ended.

Blumenthal said his staff thought there was no way he would catch a 10 a.m. plane to Hartford with a vote scheduled at 9 a.m. in Washington.

“I think I set a new record,” Blumenthal said. “And I’m really glad I did.”

Blumenthal said it means so much to have the support of labor because “for an entire professional career I have believed in you and you have believed in me.” He said that type of support goes beyond an endorsement.

“We have the best working people in the United States of America,” Blumenthal said.

He said that they did the pre-taped video at midnight because he didn’t think he would be able to make it back to Hartford. He joked that he has no idea what he said in the video because he had so little sleep.

He talked about Connecticut’s defense industry. He said the men and women who work at Sikorsky and Electric Boat and all the other defense manufacturers make Connecticut the “arsenal of democracy.”

“They are as much critical to our national defense as anybody in uniform,” Blumenthal said to applause.

Blumenthal received a standing ovation after about six minutes of remarks.