HARTFORD - U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut won a second term Tuesday, defeating a little known state representative from Bethel in a contest overshadowed by the presidential election.
The race against Republican Dan Carter attracted scant attention compared with Blumenthal's first run in 2010, when Republican Linda McMahon, a former wrestling executive, spent more than $50 million of her own money on her unsuccessful campaign for the seat vacated by former Sen. Chris Dodd.
Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy told supporters at a downtown Hartford hotel that Connecticut residents should be proud of Blumenthal's accomplishments, crediting the senator with fighting for tougher gun laws and working to help consumers.
“He has never forgotten his roots,” Malloy said. “He has never forgotten who he is.”
Carter, 49, acknowledged “the air got sucked out of the room by the top of the ticket,” which he said allowed Blumenthal to “hide” behind a large campaign war chest. A campaign spokeswoman for Blumenthal insisted the well-known former state attorney general runs every campaign, including this one, “as if he is 20-points back.”
Carter had to resort to online ads and appearances at fairs and festivals. He had only $35,014 in cash on hand as of Sept. 30, according to Federal Election Commission filings. Blumenthal, 70, had $4.7 million. He ran a series of television ads on his record on women's issues, consumer matters and helping veterans, without ever mentioning his opponent.
In the only debate of the contest, the two agreed on some issues, including support for abortion rights and opposition to legalizing marijuana for recreational uses.
But they disagreed on some aspects of gun control. Blumenthal has taken issue with Carter voting in 2013 against Connecticut's wide-ranging gun control legislation following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, a town Carter represents.
“He has received an honors grade from the NRA,” Blumenthal said during the debate, referring to the National Rifle Association. “I think the NRA and the gun lobby have enough friends already in Washington.”
Carter, however, insists he voted against Connecticut's bill because it didn't address the underlying issues that led to the mass killing. Carter, a pistol permit holder, said during the debate he supports universal background checks as well as increased training requirements for gun owners and efforts to keep guns away from people with mental illness.
“That bill that I voted against in 2013 would have done nothing to prevent Sandy Hook from happening,” Carter said.