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Blumenthal’s Long Wait

Connecticut’s ‘Man With the Golden Résumé’ Blocked From Senate Run

In an event as regular as the quadrennial election itself, Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal (D) is once again mulling a campaign for governor in 2006.

Some political observers believe he’d also consider a run for Senate next year, on the slim chance that three-term Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.) retires.

That, in a nutshell, defines the 59-year-old attorney general’s career.

Despite persistent entreaties from Constitution State Democrats in the past decade, Blumenthal has consistently declined to run for governor, opting instead to seek re-election for a job that has often won him praise.

“I have said that I am still very much considering it because it would be an exciting and challenging opportunity in public service,” Blumenthal said in a telephone interview Wednesday. But he added: “My focus right now is on being the best possible attorney general I can be.”

The attorney general demurs on when he’ll issue a decision — “I will definitely be on the ballot in 2006,” is all he’ll say.

Several Connecticut political prognosticators suggested in interviews that it is unlikely Blumenthal, at one time dubbed the “Man with the Golden Résumé,” will consider the governor’s race, electing instead to hold out for the opportunity to run for one of the state’s Senate seats.

But such a plan does have its drawbacks, as Fairfield University politics professor John Orman said: “Our knight in shining armor has been waiting a long time.”

Back in 2000, Slate magazine ran a profile of Blumenthal that posited this question: “He was supposed to be president. So why is he only Connecticut’s attorney general?”

Long considered a rising star in state political circles, Blumenthal won election to his current post in 1990, after serving terms in both the Connecticut state Senate, from 1987-90, and the state House, from 1984-87.

In the midst of his first term as attorney general he declined an appeal from state Democrats to campaign for the governor’s office, then an open race. Four years later in 1998, he again turned down pleas, opting against taking on then-Gov. John Rowland (R).

“It’s really the Senate that he wants,” said Quinnipiac University Poll Director Doug Schwartz.

In the 2000 presidential race, when then- Vice President Al Gore tapped Lieberman to be his running mate, the junior Senator could have abandoned his re-election campaign, thus opening the race to Blumenthal and others. Whoever wound up the Democratic nominee would almost certainly have won easily. But Lieberman ultimately chose to pursue both campaigns simultaneously, eliminating that possibility.

Now, with both Lieberman and Sen. Chris Dodd (D) as well-entrenched on Capitol Hill as ever, the outlets for Blumenthal’s political ambitions appear limited.

The attorney general declined to specify whether he views the Capitol as his preferred destination.

“Politics is supremely unpredictable, but I have been very happy and fulfilled in my present job and it’s afforded unlimited opportunity to help people, which is the goal of anyone in public life,” he said. “I don’t have defined timetables or deadlines, or rungs on a ladder that I feel I have to climb by a certain age.”

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