Politics

Last GOP Senate candidate to be cut off by NRSC speaks on Akin affair

Last GOP Senate candidate to be cut off by NRSC speaks on Akin affair

Before Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin became a household name in U.S. politics, the last Republican U.S. Senate nominee to be denied funding and support from the National Republican Senatorial Committee was Alan Schlesinger of Connecticut in 2006. That year, Derby, Conn. Mayor Schlesinger was the GOP nominee in a race in which Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), defeated for renomination by anti-war Democrat Ned Lamont, went on to run in the fall as an independent and win.

Recalling his own situation and believing Akin’s remarks were “very sad,” Schlesinger nonetheless believes that the NRSC should not try to shut out its nominee in Missouri from needed funding. The Connecticut Republican, however, differs greatly from Akin on the abortion issue, describing himself as “pro-choice with exceptions.”

Schlesinger also looked back at his own situation six years ago and how different it was from the current one.

“And my reason for being cut off by national Republicans was not for saying anything, the way Akin did, but because they wanted Lieberman re-elected because of the support the senator had given him on Iraq and other national security issues.” said Schlesinger in an exclusive interview with Human Events. Now in private law practice, Schlesinger talked about his own experience as cast aside by the GOP.

Schlesinger, a moderate-to-conservative former state legislator, explained that “I ran for the Senate because I felt that with Lieberman likely to lose the primary and go independent, I might have a chance in a three-way race. In fact, I wouldn’t have run if I thought I would be going head-to-head with Lieberman or Lamont. But I never had a chance once the White House said they preferred Lieberman and the national party ignored me.”

The “Almanac of American Politics” sums up the chronology of events demonstrating how the Bush administration and the national GOP sent out signals they wanted Lieberman — who had said repeatedly he would vote with Democrats for Senate control — and not their nominee: “On Aug. 13, Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman said that his practice was to consult ‘our leadership in the states and they say: you ought to stay out of this one.’ On Aug. 15, White House press secretary Tony Snow said: the Republican Party of Connecticut has suggested that we not make an endorsement in that race, so we’re not.” Snow’s response to a question posed by Human Events when we followed up by asking if those making the suggestion about not making an endorsement included then-State GOP Chairman George Gallo, Snow replied: “Including Mr. Gallo.”

In Connecticut, state party leaders led by then-Gov. Jodi Rell offered the excuse for not supporting their Senate nominee that he enjoyed gambling. Schlesinger laughed at that, recalling how “(Rell) said I was a ‘professional gambler.’ That was because I could actually count cards in blackjack and win. And gaming is not only perfectly legal on Indian reservations in Connecticut but it is one of the state’s biggest sources of revenue. I didn’t break any laws at all — I only knew how to play a game well.” A graduate of the Wharton School of Finance in Pennsylvania, Schlesinger is a highly successful attorney.

Regarding Akin’s now-celebrated remark about “legitimate rape,” Schlesinger said: “What he said was really silly. And he apologized. (National Republicans) should accept that and let him run his race and not hurt him. Just recently, (Califonria Democratic Rep.) Maxine Waters said to an energy executive during a House committee hearing that ‘we were going to socialize — er, take over your business.’ It seems these days that if you are a Democrat you can say anything, but if you’re a Republican, you can get in trouble for any slip of the tongue.”

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