Elected office: U.S. House of Representatives, 2001 to 2007; state House of Representatives, 1991 to 2001.
Current post: None
Robert R. Simmons is a lanky, former U.S. Army intelligence officer and CIA agent who twice served in Vietnam, once in each of his government roles. His Vietnam record made him seem to be a strong Republican alternative to Democrat Richard Blumenthal, after Blumenthal admitted making misstatements about his Vietnam-era service in the Marine Reserves.
But delegates to the Republican State Convention opted for Linda McMahon, the former chief executive of World Wrestling Entertainment, who promises to spend $50 million of her own money to capture the Senate seat that’s been held for 30 years by Christopher J. Dodd.
Simmons announced days after the convention that he was suspending his campaign, comparing a run as a challenger against McMahon’s millions to the futility of Pickett’s Charge. With a weathered copy of the Officer’s Guidebook on a lectern in a hotel lobby in New London, Simmons made his announcement, offered a salute and exited with his wife, Heidi.
He never took his name off the ballot, however, and stayed in the public eye by campaigning for other Republicans. On July 22, he resumed active campaigning of a sort, running a television commercial to remind Republicans they have a choice and he remains on the August 10 ballot.
Simmons enlisted in the Army in 1965 and was sent to Vietnam in 1967 after graduating from Officer Candidate School. He was in Vietnam for an extended tour of 19 months, winning two Bronze Stars for meritorious service. He joined the CIA in 1969.
He left the intelligence agency in 1979 for jobs on Capitol Hill, first with Sen. John R. Chaffee, R-R.I., and later as the staff director for the Select Committee on Intelligence, working for Sen. Barry Goldwater, R-Arizona.
After a decade representing the coastal community of Stonington in the General Assembly, Simmons unseated 10-term U.S. Rep. Sam Gejdenson, D-2nd District, in 2000. During his six years in Congress, he played a role in the successful, bipartisan effort to save the Groton submarine base. He lost the seat by 83 votes to Democrat Joe Courtney in 2006.
Education: B.A., Haverford College; M.P.A., Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.
Personal: Simmons, 67, and his wife reside in Stonington. They are parents of two adult children.