Simmons rules out 2016 challenge of Blumenthal

Former U.S. Rep. Rob Simmons, R-Conn., seen in this file photo, lost the GOP Senate primary in 2010 to Linda McMahon.

Former U.S. Rep. Rob Simmons, R-Conn., seen in this file photo, ran for the U.S. Senate in 2010 but suspended his campaign after Republicans endorsed Linda McMahon.

The window of opportunity for Republican Rob Simmons to the U.S. Senate is apparently shut.

The former congressman from southeastern Connecticut doused water on speculation within the GOP that he could challenge U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., in 2016.

In 2010, Simmons was passed in over for his party’s nomination, which went to professional wrestling executive Linda McMahon.

“Our opportunity to win that seat was back in 2010. We blew it,” Simmons told Hearst Connecticut Media.

A decorated Vietnam War veteran and former CIA agent, Simmons was appointed last September to fill a vacancy as a selectman in his hometown of Stonington. It’s the office of first selectman that’s drawing interest this year from Simmons, who is chairman of the conservative Yankee Institute.

“Without saying that I am an announced candidate, I think it’s fair to say that I’m an expected candidate in that campaign,” Simmons said.

Simmons, who was awarded two Bronze Stars during his 19 months of service in Vietnam with the Army, suspended his 2010 Senate campaign after McMahon won the party’s endorsement at the state GOP convention. He received enough votes at the convention to secure a spot on the ballot, however, and finished second in a three-way primary against McMahon and financial commentator Peter Schiff.

Simmons lamented the current state of affairs for the Connecticut GOP, which hasn’t won a statewide or congressional race since 2006.

“We’ve not been able to crack the code,” he said.

So far, two known quantities within the GOP ranks have passed on a Senate run, with former U.S. Comptroller General Dave Walker telling Hearst Connecticut Media last month that he has no plans to compete against Blumenthal.

The interest in taking on Blumenthal, who had $612,015 in his war chest at the end of 2014 and whose approval rating was 64 percent in a March 12 Quinnipiac University Poll, is tepid at best for Republicans.

Former Nixon and Ford speechwriter-turned-funnyman Ben Stein perhaps summed up the situation best when it comes to recruiting someone to challenge Blumenthal:

Neil Vigdor