Former Rep. Simmons Suspends Campaign for Senate in Connecticut

Former Connecticut Rep. Rob Simmons announced Tuesday that he is suspending his campaign for Senate, just days after he lost the state Republican Party nomination to former World Wrestling Entertainment CEO Linda McMahon.

"We all felt strongly that I had the experience, qualifications and opportunity to be that Connecticut Republican Senate candidate," Simmons said in a written statement. "On this basis we set as an important goal to win the Republican nomination at the convention on May 21st. We fell just short of that goal last Friday.

Though Simmons initially said he would continue running against McMahon in the primary, he is "scaling back his campaign and releasing staff," he said in the statement.

Simmons' aides told Fox News that he is effectively dropping out of the race.

"Active campaigning will not continue," an aide said.

Simmons said he had "every right to proceed with a primary challenge" based on winning 46 percent of the vote at the convention.

"Speaking for myself and my family, however, we understand the mathematical reality of competing against an opponent with unlimited financial resources who has already invested over 16 and half million dollars in this campaign -- by far more than any Senate candidate in the country -- and who has an unlimited ability to continue spending at an extraordinary rate," he said.

"On this basis we have decided, reluctantly and prayerfully to scale back the campaign," he said. "We will release staff to pursue other opportunities and curtail campaign activities. This is not an easy decision or a happy decision. But we believe it is the right decision."

Simmons represented Connecticut's 2nd District from 2000 to 2006 and argued that the experience made him the stronger candidate to face state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat, in the general election.

However, McMahon's personal fortune, her willingness to spend up to $50 million in the race and her win in the state convention proved too much for Simmons to overcome.

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, released a statement praising Simmons as a "valuable asset" to his party, but said McMahon will run "an exemplary campaign" against Blumenthal -- who is facing criticism for several statements in which he incorrectly claimed that he served in the Vietnam War. Blumenthal says he mis-spoke on a few occasions and has apologized.

"Clearly the Democrats have recruited a flawed candidate in Blumenthal, who has repeatedly demonstrated that he has difficulty simply telling the truth," Cornyn said. "We're confident that Linda McMahon will make this Senate seat in Connecticut a competitive pick-up opportunity for Republicans this November."