But that's the way it's going this year. The Republican Party tried to eject him from the race once it became clear that they had a chance at the seat, and then, when he refused to budge, abandoned him.
Schlesinger's original problem was about gambling. He's a lousy card counter who lost a ton of money at casinos, and had a Wampum card with a fake name on it. What he's really guilty of, though, is being a weak candidate, and not listening to the state GOP when they told him to get out. It's almost tragic.
"I've always been a good Republican," Schlesinger said during a recent interview at his law office, referring to his decision not to wage primaries against fellow Republicans in congressional races in 1984, 1990 and 1998. "You can see how much it's done for me."
He is also furious that he's been depicted in the media as "this sleazy guy with a gambling problem who wants to be a senator."
"I have been totally misunderstood, totally misquoted, totally misused, totally mishandled," Schlesinger said. "It's absolutely pathetic how I've been treated in this campaign. I take responsibility for all my actions in my life, but I don't think it's fair to characterize me as something that I'm the opposite of."
When asked whom he holds responsible for this mischaracterization, Schlesinger responded, "Basically Jodi Rell lit the fire and then the entire press corps decided to throw tons of gasoline on it."
The governor's campaign office declined to respond Friday to Schlesinger's comment. (Hamilton)
Well, there's also the other thing. Remember when Kevin Rennie was basically bursting at the seams to tell us a nasty rumor about Schlesinger? He went so far as to suggest that the Courant was working on a story that would completely destroy Schlesinger. It was about this (boldface mine):
Schlesinger also blames Rowland, with whom he had a poor relationship, for some of his troubles, including the long-standing rumors in political circles that Schlesinger used to bring paid escorts to Republican functions.
Schlesinger vehemently denies that he did anything of the sort, and there is no evidence that he did, but the rumors have persisted for more than 20 years - which is both astonishing and infuriating to Schlesinger.
As he drove to the Milford Senior Center last week, Schlesinger, who has never been married, railed about Rowland and the paid escort rumor.
"The biggest whore in the world and he spreads a rumor about me," Schlesinger fumed. "It's totally made up."
"I wish Mr. Schlesinger the best of luck with his campaign," Rowland responded. (Hamilton)
In other words, the Courant looked into it, and found nothing (or gave up). But the rumor, which a lot of Republicans still believe in, has probably done a lot more damage to Schlesinger within the party than any gambling revelations.
Yet he's still out there, and it's affected this race in weird ways. If Schlesinger had been a stronger candidate, he would have either actually have a shot to win the seat or to spoil Joe Lieberman's bid, allowing Ned Lamont to win. As it stands, Lamont and Lieberman are basically in a two-man race, with Lieberman playing the role of a moderate-to-conservative Republican incumbent.
Which is too bad, because Schlesinger seems to be addressing some things the other candidates are too distracted to talk about:
Schlesinger's stump speech is actually quite good.
It's all about what he calls a three-pronged time bomb that's about to blow up America's economy. The three prongs of this crisis, according to Schlesinger are energy, Social Security and national security and as the speech progresses he talks knowledgeably about the $4.5 trillion national debt, how Social Security is grossly underfunded, and other fiscal issues. (Hamilton)
I would very much like to hear the other candidates talk about fiscal matters more. The federal government's massive deficit and our titanic national debt may be the most pressing issues of the next decade.
Schlesinger will have at least one shot to make his case to a large number of people. He'll be included in the October 23rd debate in New London, which will be broadcast live on Channel 8. Until then, he'll continue to drift, alone.
Hamilton, Elizabeth. "A Long Shot Won't Give Up." Hartford Courant 1 October, 2006.