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In Conn., No Love Lost For Simmons, McMahon

It was certainly no unity celebration in New London this morning as former Connecticut congressman Rob Simmons ended his campaign for Senate. After losing the state GOP's endorsement Friday, Simmons faced a tough road ahead in the primary against Linda McMahon -- the wealthy, former professional wrestling executive whom the state party preferred.

According to his prepared remarks, Simmons never mentioned McMahon by name, including when he promised to help other Republicans get elected in November. But he listed his severe financial disadvantage as the reason for dropping out.

"Speaking for myself and my family, however, we understand the mathematical reality of competing against an opponent with unlimited financial resources who has already invested over 16 and a half million dollars in this campaign - by far more than any senate candidate in the country - and who has an unlimited ability to continue spending at an extraordinary rate," he said.

It's not surprising, since the Simmons campaign has spent the last several months attacking McMahon's record at World Wrestling Entertainment. Just last week, in the wake of bad press for Democrat Richard Blumenthal, Simmons campaign manager Jim Barnett said that McMahon suffered from "fundamental character defects" and that her record would soon catch up to her as well.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee, though, jumped behind McMahon right away.

Continue reading "In Conn., No Love Lost For Simmons, McMahon" »

Blumenthal Camp: Vietnam Issue Behind Us

Richard Blumenthal went from Senate shoe-in to political punch line after the New York Times reported on his past misstatements of his Vietnam-era service. But in the span of the week, his campaign now argues that he has successfully navigated through the immediate crisis to the point where Democrats can feel confident again that the party will hold his seat come November.

To bolster that argument, the Connecticut attorney general's campaign released results of an internal poll showing that he maintained a substantial advantage over one of his potential general election foes, WWE executive Linda McMahon. The Greenberg Quinlan Rosner survey, conducted May 19-20, found Blumenthal leading 55-40. A Rasmussen poll released last week found the same matchup much tighter.

"His deep roots and connection with people in Connecticut make him a very tough guy to knock down," a polling memo argues.

In the latest effort to counter the story, Blumenthal today penned a personal apology in the Hartford Courant. "I have made mistakes and I am sorry. I truly regret offending anyone,'' he wrote.

Continue reading "Blumenthal Camp: Vietnam Issue Behind Us" »

CT Sen, Gov Poll: Blumenthal Leads

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal (D) is off to a good start in his bid to succeed Chris Dodd in the Senate, according to a new Daily Kos/Research2000 poll (Jan. 11-13, 600 LV, MoE +/- 4%). Blumenthal leads his three potential GOP opponents -- ex-Rep. Rob Simmons, ex-WWE executive Linda McMahon and economicst Peter Schiff -- all by about 20 points.

Blumenthal 54 - Simmons 35 - Und 11

Blumenthal 56 - McMahon 34 - Und 10

Blumenthal 56 - Schiff 33 - Und 11

In the race for governor, the poll found Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz in the strongest position among Democrats. However, she recently announced she will instead run for attorney general -- a decision that has set off some controversy as to whether she is legally qualified for the position.

2006 Senate nominee Ned Lamont (D) leads three potential GOP opponents by about 10 points each, while ex-Stamford mayor Dan Malloy leads as well.
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CT Sen Poll: Blumenthal Way Ahead

A second poll in two days shows Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal (D) way ahead of his potential Republican opponents in the race for Senate. Rasmussen's survey shows him leading former Rep. Rob Simmons by 23 points, former WWE CEO Linda McMahon by 24 points and businessman Peter Schiff by 36 points.

Blumenthal 56 - Simmons 33 - Und 7

Blumenthal 58 - McMahon 34 - Und 5

Blumenthal 60 - Schiff 24 - Und 10

Blumenthal held similar leads in a PPP poll released yesterday, shortly after Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) announced he would not seek re-election.

CT Sen Poll: With Dodd Out, Blumenthal A Strong Favorite

Credit Public Policy Polling (D) with having these numbers ready: their new survey (522 RVs, 1/4-5, MoE +/- 4.3%) shows that Attorney General Richard Blumenthal (D) starts with a strong lead over potential GOP foes in the Senate race. These numbers affirm the sentiment that Sen. Chris Dodd's (D) decision "to step aside and let someone else step up," as he said a short time ago in Connecticut, was the best one political for Democrats

General Election Matchup
Blumenthal 60 -- McMahon 28 -- Und 12
Blumenthal 63 -- Schiff 23 -- Und 14
Blumenthal 59 -- Simmons 28 -- Und

By comparison, PPP found Dodd tied with McMahon (43-43), ahead of Schiff (44-37), but trailing Simmons (40-44). PPP, on the difference Blumenthal makes:

Blumenthal is unusually popular, especially in hyper partisan times when voters like few politicians. 59% have a favorable opinion of him to just 19% who see him negatively. It's no surprise that he's liked by 71% of Democrats and 60% of independents, but even Republicans view him favorably by a 37/35 margin. It doesn't take a lot of hands to count the number of Democratic politicians with positive numbers among GOP voters these days.

Job Approval Ratings
Pres. Obama 54 / 38
Dodd 29 / 57

Favorable Ratings
Blumenthal 59 / 19
McMahon 26 / 29
Schiff 9 / 13
Simmons 27 / 24

Report: Dodd To Retire; Blumenthal Likely To Run

But wait, there's more!

The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza reports that Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) will end his long career in Washington and not seek re-election this November. And in a boost to Democrats' chances of holding the seat, Cillizza reports that state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal "is widely expected to step into the void."


Blumenthal, who has served as state Attorney General since 1990, is the most popular politician in the state and has long coveted a Senate seat; he had already signaled that he would run for the Democratic nomination against Sen. Joe Lieberman (I) in 2012. (A sidenote: Assuming Blumenthal gets in to the race, Rep. Chris Murphy could be the long-term beneficiary as he is widely regarded as a rising star and would be at the top of the list of Democratic hopefuls to challenge Lieberman in 2012.)

Without Dodd as a foil, Republicans chances of taking over a seat in this solidly blue state are considerably diminished. Former Rep. Rob Simmons and wealthy businesswoman Linda McMahon are battling it out for the Republican nod but either would start as an underdog in a general election matchup with Blumenthal.

The White House did all it could to help Dodd, elevating him at official events and sending his old friend Joe Biden in several times to stump for him. But clearly Dodd concluded that there was no hope of turning his fortunes around.

After a tumultuous Tuesday, one has to wonder if this is a case of Democrats getting all their bad news out at once, or if there are other shoes still to drop. The other incumbent that the party would like to see step aside is New York Gov. David Paterson. He delivers his state of the state address Wednesday in Albany.

CT Sen: Dodd, McMahon Tout Internal Polls

In a bit of pre-holiday posturing, Sen. Chris Dodd (D) and one of his Republican challengers are touting the results of internal polling that shows each, not surprisingly, running strong in the Connecticut Senate race.

Connecticut Democrats released a memo from Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research (601 LVs, 12/15-17, MoE +/- showing that the embattled Dodd tied WWE CEO Linda McMahon and just behind former Rep. Rob Simmons (R).

General Election Matchup
Simmons 51 -- Dodd 46
Dodd 46 -- McMahon 46

After voters are read "positive and negative information" about each candidate, Dodd takes a 5-point lead over McMahon, and closes to 49-48 behind Simmons. The partisan poll also claims that the partisan environment in Connecticut "remains among the best for Democrats out of any state in the country."

President Obama is viewed favorably by a 2 to 1 margin, and the Democratic Party receives a favorable-unfavorable rating of 51 to 37 percent (+14 points). By contrast, the Republican Party is viewed very unfavorably and receives a poor rating of 29 percent favorable to 49 percent unfavorable (-20 points).

Meanwhile, McMahon released results of her own poll, conducted by Moore Information (400 GOP RVs, 12/15-16, MoE +/- 5%) showing her slightly ahead in the Republican primary.

Primary Election Matchup
McMahon 37
Simmons 35
Schiff 4
Und 25

From the Moore Information memo:

In a little over three months she has gone from being a virtual unknown to now leading the GOP primary race for U.S. Senate. Despite a constant drumbeat of negative attacks by the Simmons camp, Linda is viewed more favorably than Rob Simmons and less negatively. Additionally, Simmons' image and ballot support remain flat and despite the fact the race has winnowed down to three candidates he has now fallen into second place.

CT Sen Poll: Dodd Trails All Foes

A new Rasmussen poll (500 LVs, 12/7, MoE +/- 4.5%) has more troubling signs for Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), with his numbers slipping against the three potential Republican foes.

General Election Matchups
Simmons 48 (-1 vs. last poll, 9/10)
Dodd 35 (-4)
Und 11 (+5)

McMahon 44 (N/A)
Dodd 38
Und 9

Schiff 40 (unch)
Dodd 39 (-3)
Und 14 (+4)

Favorable Ratings
Dodd 40 / 58
Simmons 48 / 30
McMahon 45 / 35
Schiff 35 / 31

President Obama remains popular in Connecticut, with 57 percent approving of his job performance and 43 percent disapproving. Forty-eight support the health care plan in Congress, while 51 percent oppose it. Rasmussen finds the sentiment on health care more favorable in Connecticut than other states.

CT Sen Poll: Dodd Trails Top GOP Candidates

A new Quinnipiac poll in Connecticut shows that Sen. Chris Dodd (D) in a dangerous position a year before the election, with a ceiling of just 42 percent against any of his potential GOP opponents, some barely known to state voters.

General Election Matchups
Simmons 49 -- Dodd 38 -- Und 11
Foley 47 -- Dodd 40 -- Und 13
McMahon 43 -- Dodd 41 -- Und 14
Dodd 42 -- Caligiuri 42 -- Und 14
Dodd 42 -- Schiff 41 -- Und 15

The RCP Average for Dodd vs. Simmons has the former Republican Congressman up 8.3 percent. On a general re-elect question, 39 percent say Dodd deserves another term and 53 percent say no. Voters give him high marks on leadership (61 percent) but fewer say he is honest or trustworthy (39 percent).

In a GOP primary, Simmons gets 28 percent in the multi-candidate field, with former WWE CEO Linda McMahon the next closest challenger at 17 percent. Former Ambassador Tom Foley (9 percent), stockbroker Peter Schiff (5 percent) and state Sen. Sam Caligiuri (4 percent) round up the field. Simmons had taken 43 percent in a September poll taken before McMahon entered the race. In a Democratic primary, Dodd just gets 55 percent compared to 22 percent for Merrick Alpert, a former Gore staffer who has virtually no name recognition.

Favorable Ratings
Dodd 42 / 49
Simmons 40 / 10
McMahon 20 / 13
Caligiuri 10 / 3
Foley 20 / 6
Schiff 7 / 4
Alpert 1 / 3

Dodd has a 40 percent job approval rating, with 54 percent disapproving. His colleague Joe Lieberman, up for re-election in 2012, has a 49 percent approval rating, and 46 percent say he should be re-elected vs. 45 percent who say no -- a drop from the last time that question was asked. President Obama's is strong in the Nutmeg State: 58 percent approve, 35 percent disapprove.

The survey of 1,236 registered voters was conducted November 3-8 and has margin of error of +/- 2.8 percent. The GOP primary subsample of 332 voters had a +/- 5.4 percent margin of error, and the Democratic subsample of 474 voters had a margin of error of +/- 4.5 percent.

Obama Raising Money For Dodd

President Obama is following through on a promise to help a potentially vulnerable member of the Senate Democratic caucus, with a trip planned later this month to Connecticut to raise money for Chris Dodd.

"Obviously we're extremely grateful that President Obama has taken time out of his busy schedule to campaign on behalf of Senator Dodd, and we're looking forward to a great event," campaign manager Jay Howser said in a statement from Dodd's campaign today.

Dodd has been a frequent guest at White House events this year, often getting high presidential praise at policy announcements and bill signings. In an interview this April, Obama told the Boston Globe: "I can't say it any clearer: I will be helping Chris Dodd because he deserves the help."

In addition to the October 23 fundraiser with Obama, Vice President Biden will travel to Fairfield, Ct., this Monday for an official event with Dodd to promote a project made possible through the Recovery Act.

The field of Republicans challenging Dodd has grown larger by the month, with WWE CEO Linda McMahon the most recent entrant. A recent Daily Kos/Research 2000 poll showed Dodd leading three of four potential rivals, trailing only former Rep. Rob Simmons (R).

WWE's McMahon Joins the Ring

Linda McMahon has quit her job as CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. to take on five-term Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) next year. McMahon is the wife of famed WWE leader Vince McMahon.

The longtime WWE head will need to get through a competitive GOP primary against Rep. Rob Simmons, Peter Schiff, State Sen. Sam Caligiuri and Tom Foley, the former Ambassador to Ireland.

Appearing on MSNBC this morning, McMahon said that her experience as a businesswoman for the past 30 years would help her to put people to work.

"WWE is an entertainment company with PG programming," McMahon said. "But the issues that are facing us today are not what takes place in the WWE's ring. It's about debt. It's about getting our folks back to work. And that's what I'm going to focus on here in Connecticut."

A Daily Kos/Research2000 poll released yesterday found Dodd trailing Simmons, the leading Republican, by 4 points. He leads Caligiuri, Schiff and Foley. The survey did not include McMahon.

Dodd's Message To Supporters

Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), who announced today an early diagnosis of prostate cancer, sent this message to supporters on his campaign e-mail list under the subject line, "I wanted to tell you myself":

Dear Friend,

I wanted to let you know that I've been diagnosed with an early stage of prostate cancer.

This diagnosis is very common among men my age. In fact, one in six men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point during their life.

Luckily, a routine test allowed my doctor to catch it at a very early stage, and my prognosis is excellent - we expect a full and speedy recovery.

I want to assure you that I'm feeling fine. As you know, we've been working hard to pass health care legislation and reform our nation's financial system to protect consumers, and that hard work will continue.

After the Senate adjourns at the end of next week, I'll have surgery to remove the cancer. After a week or two of recuperation, I expect to be right back to work.

After all, as a Member of Congress, I have great health insurance. I was able to get screened, seek the opinions of highly skilled doctors, consider all the available options, and choose the treatment that was right for me.

And I know you'll agree that every American deserves the same ability.

We have health care legislation to pass - and an election to win. And I can't thank you enough for your support.



In Connecticut today, Dodd said he would still be running for re-election. As of the daily press briefing, Robert Gibbs said the president had not yet spoken to Dodd but planned to today.

CT Sen Poll: Dodd Trails Simmons

He's playing a leading role in the health care negotiations. But if the election was held today, Chris Dodd would be looking for work. A new Quinnipiac poll shows the Connecticut senator and former presidential candidate trailing former Rep. Rob Simmons, the likely Republican nominee, in his bid for a sixth term.

General Election Matchups
Simmons 48 (+5 from May)
Dodd 39 (unch)
Don't Know 10 (-5)

Dodd 42 (+1)
Caligiuri 40 (+1)
Don't Know 15 (-2)

Dodd 42 (+7)
Foley 42 (-1)
Don't Know 14 (-2)

Dodd 43
Schiff 38
Don't Know 16

Several of his potential rivals have low name ID at this point. In a potential Republican primary, Simmons is clearly ahead, at 42 percent, with Foley and Caligiuri at 5 percent each.

Favorability Ratings
Dodd 40 / 50
Simmons 39 / 12
Caligiuri 12 / 4
Alpert 3 / 1
Foley 17 / 5
Schiff 7 / 3

Dodd's job approval rating is at 42 percent, up four points from May. Asked if Dodd is honest and trustworthy, only 35 percent of voters said yes, compared to 55 percent who say no. But asked if he's a strong leader, 62 percent say yes.

As President Obama has showered Dodd with praise, the Quinnipiac poll shows that 71 percent of voters say that their vote won't be swayed even if he campaigns actively on Dodd's behalf. The president's job approval stands at 57 percent, down 5 points from March.

The survey of 1,499 registered voters was conducted from July 16 - 20, with a margin of error of +/- 2.5 percent.

Obama E-Mails Connecticut Dems

President Obama e-mailed more than 100,000 supporters of the Democratic National Committee and Obama's own Organizing for America in Connecticut to show his support for Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) -- a potentially vulnerable incumbent in 2010.

In the message, Obama thanked Dodd for his "extraordinary efforts" on the credit card reform bill the president signed this afternoon at the White House.

"But today -- thanks to the extraordinary efforts by your senator, Chris Dodd -- I signed a bill that restores a sense of fairness and transparency to the credit card insutry," Obama writes in the e-mail. "As Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, Senator Dodd was the driving force behind this bill."

Obama then asks supporters to send Dodd a thank you note for his "exceptional service," including their name, e-mail address, home address and phone number.

Obama Will Help Dodd Through "Rough Patch"

In an interview with the Boston Globe, President Obama voices strong support for Chris Dodd, who might now be the most vulnerable incumbent Democrat seeking re-election in 2010.

"I can't say it any clearer: I will be helping Chris Dodd because he deserves the help," Obama said. "Chris is going through a rough patch. He just has an extraordinary record of accomplishment, and I think the people in Connecticut will come to recognize that. ... He always has his constituencies at heart, and he's somebody I'm going to be relying on and working very closely with to shepherd through the types of regulatory reforms we need."

Dodd was the first presidential candidate to drop out of the race, and quickly endorsed Obama.

Lieberman Favs Shellacked

Running as an independent after losing the Democratic primary in 2006, Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman did his best to avoid irritating the Democratic base in order to win at least some of their votes in November. Now, having so publicly backed John McCain, those who didn't abandon Lieberman that year are moving away from him, a Quinnipiac University poll shows.

The survey, conducted 6/26-29, polled 2,515 registered voters in the Nutmeg State for a margin of error of +/- 2%. And according to those respondents, the state's junior Senator has just a 45% approval rating, while 43% disapprove. That includes just 26% of Democrats saying they like the way Lieberman is handling his job, while 62% disapprove.

That's the lowest job approval rating Lieberman has ever had in the Quinnipiac poll, down from a high of 80% who said they approved of his job performance in September, 2000, as he was running for Vice President on Al Gore's ticket. His rating has dropped seven points since the last survey, in late March, while his disapproval ratings have gone up eight points.

Connecticut gave John Kerry a ten-point win in 2004, though neither of the campaigns put any significant effort into the state. And while John McCain's campaign has hinted that the state might be in play come November, few strategists actually think the state will deliver anything but a big win for Barack Obama.

So, will Lieberman continue running as an independent when he's next up, in 2012? If the Connecticut Senator continues to back McCain and goes so far as to speak at the Republican National Convention, a la Georgia Senator Zell Miller in 2004, Democrats may be less interested in his service as chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, especially if the party picks up seats in November.

One thing is sure: A bigger Democratic majority that devalues Lieberman's vote as a quasi-Republican would mean left-leaning bloggers, who spearheaded the move to oust Lieberman in 2006, will put significant pressure on Senate Democrats to elevate someone new to the post of chairman.