Schiff qualifies for GOP Senate race

U.S. Senate candidate Peter Schiff, a Tea Party favorite known for his gloomy predictions about the U.S. economy, has qualified for the Aug. 10 Republican primary.

Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz said Monday that Schiff gathered enough petition signatures to challenge the endorsed Republican, former wrestling executive Linda McMahon.

“We are thrilled to hear the news that our efforts have proved successful,” Schiff said in an emailed statement.

“Connecticut Republicans now have a alternative: a wrestling promoter or a businessman and economist. Given the state of our economy, I think the choice is clear.”

But state elections officials have received a complaint that some of Schiff’s petition circulators were from out of state. Any signatures proven to have been collected by an out-of-state resident would be disallowed.

Rob Simmons, who qualified for a primary at the Republican State Convention, has curtailed his campaign, but he said today his name will remain on the ballot as well.

“It doesn’t change my thinking at all,” Simmons said. “I am remaining on the ballot.”

Until today, no one in Connecticut had qualified for a statewide primary by petitioning.

To qualify, Schiff, 47, the president of Euro Pacific Capital, had to collect signature from 2 percent of the registered Republicans in Connecticut. Bysiewicz said the registrars of voters reported validating 8,697 signatures, just 429 more than the required 8,268 names.

The other way to qualify for a primary is win the the support of at least 15 percent of the delegates at a state nominating convention.

The signatures are validated by the registrars of voters in the towns where they are collected and then forwarded to the secretary of the state’s office for tabulation. Bysiewicz said the registrars invalidated about 30 percent of the signatures Schiff turned in.

Bysiewicz said her office warned Schiff about the requirement that petition circulators be state residents after her two top lawyers, Ted Bromley and Lou Button, were solicited by a circulator across the street from their office in Bushnell Park. The circulator was from out of state, she said.

“We advised the Schiff campaign of the rule,” she said.

On June 4, James Bancroft of Windsor Locks filed a complaint to the State Elections Enforcement Commission that he saw people gathering signatures for Schiff outside the Best Buy near the West Farms Mall the previous day.

At least two told him they were residents of Montana, and one said she was employed by National Ballot Association, a contractor.”

The complaint is under investigation and is pending,” said Nancy Nicolescu, a spokeswoman for the commission.

The McMahon campaigns had no immediate comment.

“I am confident as voters learn more about me, they will like what they see and hear,” Schiff said. “From fighting to remove the government roadblocks preventing employers from creating jobs to keeping taxes low, I am the only one in the race with the skill-set necessary to help get our economy back on track.”

Schiff, a frequent commentator on the economy of cable television, was an economic adviser to the presidential campaign of Ron Paul in 2008.

Without dramatic corrections in Washington, Schiff has said he sees the U.S. economy unraveling under the strain of an unsustainable debt made tolerable for the moment only by interest rates kept artificially low by a meddling central bank, the Federal Reserve.

He likens the government’s fiscal and monetary policies to a Ponzi scheme, destined to collapse when when China and other foreign lenders finally cut off credit.

“At some point, they are going to look at the U.S. and decide we can’t pay it back,” he has said.

Then the dollar will crash and interest rates will rise, fueling inflation that could leave currency worthless, he says.

As a financial advisor, Schiff pushes gold as a hedge against a total financial collapse that could leave the dollar worthless. As a candidate, his prescription is draconian cuts that could cause short-term pain, and even chaos, but put the economy on a stable footing for the future.

Schiff, who is seeking office for the first time, has staked out a host of controversial positions.

“Nobody in Washington thinks I can get elected,” a smiling Schiff said in March. He preaches cutting Social Security, Medicare and unemployment benefits. “I have stepped on every political third rail that exists.”