HOWARD MEGDAL: In the wake of a New York Times piece citing instances when Richard Blumenthal, Attorney General for the state of Connecticut and Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate, misstated his service record, calls were rampant for the Democrats to dump him as nominee, while the Republicans sensed a pickup opportunity.
The reality has been heartening to those who value public service: Blumenthal’s decades of great work have trumped this one week story. Indeed, it is certainly what saved him.
Had Connecticut voters been introduced to Blumenthal at this time, as they are to his GOP opponent, Linda McMahon, the story could have been fatal. But he has been a rock star in Connecticut politics, waiting years for his exact opportunity as the Democrats kept hoping he’d run for various U.S. Senate and gubernatorial openings.
Indeed, it is astounding to consider that the poll linked to above, which measures voter reactions when the Blumenthal scandal was freshest in their minds, give him a 61-29 favorability rating, and 60 percent assign him a “trustworthy” designation.
Sure, the Democrats could have turned to someone else. But there is nothing to say another nominee wouldn’t have had a scandal of his or her own.
And nobody, in Connecticut politics, is Richard Blumenthal.
DAN SZYMBORSKI: The good news for Blumenthal, in addition to the polling that Howard mentions, is that he still looks like he has a fairly strong lead over McMahon.
However, the story is still fraught with danger for Blumenthal. He’s been a fixture in Connecticut for a long time and has said a lot of thing and the longer the story goes on, the bigger the risk of defining him in a negative way to people who really aren’t tuned into the election, yet. McMahon has a sizable war chest and given the opponent, I think she’s the better Republican candidate. Simmons is a better candidate against an unpopular figure, as Chris Dodd certainly is, but Simmons is a long-shot against Blumenthal and in a situation in which the odds are fairly long, it’s better for the Republicans to have the self-financing candidate so that they don’t have to devote any resources to keeping at least token opposition going in the nutmeg state.
But people supporting Blumenthal, while I still think he’s the overwhelming favorite, need to be cautious. Blumenthal’s apology was rather half-assed (generally, if you’re not going to do a full apology with the crying and the Larry King, it’s better not to do one at all) and given his whole crusader-of-justice persona, a lot of people would leave to see a bit of come-uppance. After all, one peculiar tendency of people is to see hypocrisy as even worse than bad behavior. There’s a kind of glee that people have when Rush Limbaugh is abusing painkillers or Al Gore having a big, energy-consuming house when neither of these things are all that bad (I’m a drug legalization guy).