Former Republican Rep. Rob Simmons said Sunday that he plans to run against Democratic Sen. Christopher Dodd.
Simmons said he made the decision to join the race after talking with relatives.
"The family had a long meeting today and was unanimous that I run," he said in an e-mail message to The Associated Press. "So I am running."
This is a pretty huge score for John Cornyn and the NRSC. While Simmons did get washed out (barely) in the 2006 Democratic landslide, he held onto a D+7.6 district for three terms after beating a complacent incumbent, Sam Gejdenson, in 2000. Simmons will bring some serious chops to the table in a state that hasn't seen the GOP field a viable Senate candidate in, well, decades. A recent Q-poll even showed Simmons edging Dodd by a 43-42 margin.
While Dodd will still be considered the early favorite in this deep blue state, this is shaping up to be the most challenging campaign since he began his Senate career. How aggressively Dodd moves to rehabilitate his image and deflect Simmons' scrappy attacks will be of particular interest in the coming weeks -- and months.