August Wolf launched a petition drive Wednesday to force a Republican primary for U.S. Senate with an angry attack on the GOP delegates who snubbed Wolf’s yearlong campaign Monday and endorsed Rep. Dan Carter, a candidate for five weeks.
Wolf, a Stamford businessman who was a shot-putter at the 1984 Olympics, had cleared the 15-percent threshold necessary for a primary at the convention, when delegates switched to Carter after a call by a third candidate, Jack Orchulli, for party unity.
“At the Olympic games where you are competing, it is fair. Everyone knows the rules. Everyone prepares for the competition. That’s how it was when I was on the Olympic team,” Wolf said. “I discovered two nights ago in Hartford, those rules do not apply, that the whole scheme was rigged. They should have had the convention in a train station, because they railroaded the process.”
But the convention was conducted according to the rules, and it appeared that Wolf was not prepared. Once the roll call was opened to vote switching, as it is at every state nomination convention, Wolf watched from the side, arms folded.
Carter, a three-term state legislator from Bethel who was urged to enter the race to provide an option to Wolf, roamed the floor with his supporters during the voting.
Richard Foley, a former state Republican chairman advising Carter, watched Wolf’s press conference and suggested to reporters they had just witnessed a lack of political grace.
“Winning doesn’t necessarily prove much,” Foley said. “How you handle yourself when you don’t win is what’s important in life.”
To force a primary on August 9, Wolf will have to gather the signatures of 8,079 registered Republicans, a number equal to 2 percent of the GOP registration in Connecticut. The deadline is 4 p.m. on June 7. The Republican nominee will face Democrat Richard Blumenthal, who is seeking his second term.
Wolf compared himself to Donald J. Trump on Wednesday, saying both were outsiders taking on a fossilized establishment.
“Insiders picked the nominee and manipulated the process further, denying me a space on the ballot,” Wolf said. “I saw firsthand what Donald Trump has been complaining about all year, and it’s right here in Connecticut. And it’s world-class insiderism, right here.”
Like Trump, Wolf said he would use his status to energize his petition drive and campaign.
“I’m actually glad I didn’t get picked as the nominee, to be quite candid,” Wolf said, “because I wouldn’t be here being able to give this message.”
Wolf, who never has held office, said he was more conservative than Carter, who in six years voted against the post-Newtown gun control law, tax increases, the repeal of the death penalty, the decriminalization of small amounts of marijuana, two minimum wage increases and a mandate on some private employers to offer paid sick days. He voted for the legalization of medical cannabis.
But Wolf’s major issue will be who can best compete against Blumenthal, not a voting record.
“I can win this race, and he can’t. That’s it,” Wolf said. “Connecticut is looking for some change.”
Wolf reported having $187,746 cash on hand on April 19, his last full campaign finance filing. A portion of that must be held in reserve for refunds if he does not qualify for and a win a primary.
Federal campaign law allows donors to give a maximum of $2,700 for each phase of a campaign: the convention, a primary and the general election. About two dozen of his donors have given two or three checks for $2,700, essentially advancing him money for the later phases.