HARTFORD – On the state Republican convention floor on Friday night, former U.S. Rep. Christopher Shays said he would support Republicans in November – win or lose.
Shays qualified for the August primary, which his supporters said was an accomplishment because he got into the race late.
Noting that he has won 18 elections in his state and federal career, Shays said, “I know how to win elections.”
When asked about party unity in a divided party, Shays said, “I think party unity requires me to run a primary.”
Shays said that Linda McMahon had gotten smoked by Democrat Richard Blumenthal in the high-profile, big-money U.S. Senate race in 2010.
“She lost by 138,000 votes – 12 percent – in a Republican year,” Shays told reporters on the convention floor. “It was the only state that didn’t win a statewide election or a federal election in the country, and she brought down the rest of the ticket.”
One of the problems, according to Shays supporter John McKinney, was that Republicans had made commitments to McMahon even before Shays got into the race. Shays said that he believes the delegate commitments were up to the convention, and that some of the McMahon supporters will now work for him in the primary.
“If you want someone who can win, and you don’t want Chris Murphy, I think I’m your guy,” Shays said.
Shays said that McMahon will run the same kind of campaign in 2012 as in 2010.
“It means spend whatever it takes, flood your mailboxes, flood your emails … but in the end, that’s not what it takes to win,” he said.
As delegate vote switches were being made at about 11 p.m. Friday, the unofficial tally showed that McMahon had 60 percent of the vote, compared to 32 percent for Shays.