Rob Simmons

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Rob Simmons
Rob Simmons 109th pictorial photo.jpg
First Selectman for Stonington, Connecticut
Assumed office
November 16, 2015
Preceded byGeorge Crouse
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Connecticut's 2nd district
In office
January 3, 2001 – January 3, 2007
Preceded bySam Gejdenson
Succeeded byJoe Courtney
Member of the Connecticut House of Representatives
from the 43rd district
In office
Succeeded byDiana Urban
Personal details
Robert Ruhl Simmons

(1943-02-11) February 11, 1943 (age 76)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Heidi Simmons
ResidenceStonington, Connecticut
Alma materHaverford College
Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government
ProfessionIntelligence professional, college professor, congressional staff member
AwardsBronze Star (2) Bronze Star Medal ribbon.svg
WebsiteCampaign website
Military service
Branch/serviceUnited States Army
Central Intelligence Agency
Years of service1965–1968 (active)
1969–2000 (reserve)
Battles/warsVietnam War

Robert Ruhl "Rob" Simmons (born February 11, 1943) is an American politician and retired U.S. Army colonel who served as a member of the United States House of Representatives from 2001 to 2007, representing Connecticut's second congressional district as a Republican.[1]

Simmons unsuccessfully ran as a candidate for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senator from Connecticut in 2010.

He currently is Chairman of the Yankee Institute for Public Policy.[2] On November 3, 2015, he was elected First Selectman in his hometown of Stonington, Connecticut, which he once represented in Congress.[3] He defeated the incumbent, George Crouse.[4]

Military career[edit]

Simmons was born in New York City and attended Haverford College, graduating in 1965. He enlisted in the United States Army as a private, serving in active duty from 1965 to 1969. He graduated from Infantry Officer Candidate School in 1967 and became a commissioned officer. He fought in the Vietnam War and earned two Bronze Star Medals for his service. He was in Vietnam for 19 months.[5]

After his active duty service, Simmons served in the United States Army Reserve as a Military Intelligence Officer from 1969 to 2003, retiring at the rank of full colonel. He led the 434th Military Intelligence Detachment (Strategic) affiliated with Yale University, and in this capacity led the writing of the "Open Source Intelligence Guide for the Military Intelligence Officer." Under his command, the unit was subsequently selected as the best small unit in the U.S. Army Reserve in 1996 by the Reserve Officers Association.[5]

Early political career[edit]

In 1969 he joined the Central Intelligence Agency, working as an Operations Officer for a decade, including five years on assignment overseas in East Asia. According to an article by journalist Douglas Valentine in the book "Everything you know is wrong", Simmons ran the Phu Yen Province Interrogation Center from November 1970 to June 1972 and "mounted numerous paramilitary and psychological warfare operations against" the Viet Cong.[6] (Simmons was awarded the CIA's Agency Seal Medal in 1985.) In 1979 he earned a Master of Public Administration from Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government. In 1979 he became a staff member for Senator John Chafee of Rhode Island, and then in 1981 the Staff Director for the United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence then under the Chairmanship of Senator Barry Goldwater (R-AZ).[7]

Leaving the Senate staff, he became both a professor of political science at Yale College and the University of Connecticut, and a member of the Connecticut House of Representatives from 1990 to 2000, representing the 43rd district, before running for Congress.[8][7]

U.S. Congressional tenure[edit]


Rob Simmons at a POW-MIA memorial event in 2006.

Simmons was a member of the House Armed Services Committee and was involved in issues concerning the district's major defense presence at the Electric Boat submarine shipyard in Groton and the nearby Naval Submarine Base New London. In 2005, the Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC) targeted the United States Navy's New London submarine base for closure. Simmons led the successful fight to save the base and the BRAC removed it from its closure list on August 24, 2005.

Simmons also served on the House Homeland Security Committee. While Chairman of the Subcommittee on Intelligence, Information Sharing, and Terrorism Risk Assessment, he was a strong advocate of improved intelligence-sharing between federal, state, and local authorities. Simmons also championed Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) on the Hill, where he was successful in inserting language into the 2006 National Defense Authorization Act which legally defined open source intelligence and required the Department of Defense to establish an OSINT program.[9] He likewise spearheaded an effort to establish an open source intelligence unit at the Department of Homeland Security.[10]

Electoral history[edit]

Connecticut's 2nd congressional district, 2000:[11]

  • Rob Simmons (R) – 114,380 (50.63%)
  • Sam Gejdenson (D) – 111,520 (49.37%)

Connecticut's 2nd congressional district, 2002:[12]

  • Rob Simmons (R) – 117,434 (54.09%)
  • Joe Courtney (D) – 99,674 (45.91%)

Connecticut's 2nd congressional district, 2004:[13]

  • Rob Simmons (R) – 165,558 (54.18%)
  • Jim Sullivan (D) – 139,987 (45.82%)

Connecticut's 2nd congressional district, 2006:

  • Joe Courtney (D) – 121,248 (50.02%)
  • Rob Simmons (R) – 121,165 (49.98%)


In 2000, Simmons ran for the United States House of Representatives defeating ten-term Democratic incumbent Sam Gejdenson by only 2,000 votes.

Despite being in the most Democratic GOP-held seat in the nation and being targeted by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee as a possible pickup in 2002, Simmons fought off a challenge from Democrat Joe Courtney, a former state representative from Vernon, winning 54% to 46%.

In 2004, Simmons defeated his Democratic challenger, Norwich City Councilman Jim Sullivan, by a margin of 54% to 46%.

In 2005, the NRCC listed Simmons as one of their most vulnerable members and his seat was widely seen as a possible Democratic pickup in 2006. Courtney was once again the Democratic nominee in 2006 and the race was considered a toss-up.

On election night Simmons trailed his Democratic challenger, Joe Courtney, by 167 votes out of over 242,000 votes cast. This margin was small enough to trigger an automatic recount under Connecticut law. During this recount, elections officials discovered several errors in the original vote. The recount concluded on November 14 giving Courtney an 83-vote victory over Simmons.[14]

As Simmons fared far better than other defeated Republican incumbents it was speculated he would try for a political comeback in 2008, which he did not rule out in conceding the 2006 election to Courtney. However, on March 4, 2007, on an episode of Face the State, he stated that he would not challenge Joe Courtney in 2008.

Post congressional career[edit]

Business advocate[edit]

On February 26, 2007, Rob Simmons was nominated by Connecticut Governor M. Jodi Rell to become the State's first Business Advocate.[15] The Office of the Business Advocate was established as part of the Governor's 2006 "Jobs for the 21st Century" Act (PA 06-83), for the purpose of providing centralized assistance to businesses in the state, and to pro-actively provide assistance to businesses of broader economic significance to the State.[16]

2010 U.S. Senate campaign[edit]

On March 15, 2009, Simmons announced his intention to challenge Senator Chris Dodd for the United States Senate in 2010.[17] A May 2009 poll showed Simmons leading Dodd by six points,[18] with the lead growing to 13 points in a December 2009 poll.[19] Sen. Chris Dodd since announced that he would not be seeking re-election to the U.S. Senate due to high pressure from the Democratic Party leaders, falling poll numbers, and controversy over business dealings with Countrywide Financial.

While he originally led in the polls early on, Linda McMahon gained traction on him in the primary and won at the Republican convention.[20][21] McMahon, a billionaire, spent more than $22 million through the primary, while Simmons spent under $3 million.[22] Simmons was deeply disappointed by his loss and later suspended his campaign. In late July – two weeks before the primary – however, he re-entered the race by airing TV ads, participating in debates, and accepting interviews with editorial boards.[23] General election polls showed Simmons as the more electable candidate.[24] Simmons, however, went on to lose the primary to McMahon.[25]

Stonington First Selectman[edit]

In 2015, Simmons was elected First Selectman of Stonington, Connecticut.

Personal life[edit]

Simmons is married to the former Edith Heidi Paffard. They have a son Robert and a daughter Jane.


  1. ^ "Rob Simmons". The Register Citizen. August 7, 2010. Archived from the original on March 13, 2012. Retrieved August 14, 2010. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  2. ^ "About – Yankee Institute for Public Policy".
  3. ^ "Rob Simmons: Former congressman, selectman candidate, purveyor of corn".
  4. ^
  5. ^ a b Official Rob Simmons for Senate website – Rob Simmons Biography Archived 2009-08-21 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ Valentine, Douglas (2002). Russ Kick (ed.). Everything You Know is Wrong: The Disinformation Guide to Secrets and Lies. Disinformation Company. p. 40. ISBN 978-0-9713942-0-9.
  7. ^ a b "SIMMONS, Robert (Rob) – Biographical Information".
  8. ^
  9. ^ "Sec. 931 of Public Law 109-163, entitled, "National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2006"" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2017-03-29. Retrieved 2018-12-15. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  10. ^ " – Login".
  11. ^ "CT District 02 Race – November 07, 2000". Our Campaigns. Retrieved 2010-08-14.
  12. ^ "CT District 02 Race – November 05, 2002". Our Campaigns. Retrieved 2010-08-14.
  13. ^ "CT District 02 Race – November 02, 2004". Our Campaigns. Retrieved 2010-08-14.
  14. ^ "Page Not Found – Hartford Courant".
  15. ^ [1][dead link]
  17. ^ "Topic Galleries". Archived from the original on 2009-04-06. Retrieved 2010-08-14. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  18. ^ Quinnipiac University – Office of Public Affairs (2009-05-27). "Connecticut (CT) Poll * May 27, 2009 * Dodd Gains On Challenger, But – Quinnipiac University – Hamden, Connecticut". Archived from the original on September 18, 2010. Retrieved 2010-08-14. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  19. ^ [2] Archived September 14, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  20. ^ Quinnipiac University – Office of Public Affairs (2010-03-17). "Connecticut (CT) Poll * March 17, 2010 * McMahon Wrestles To The Top In – Quinnipiac University – Hamden, Connecticut". Archived from the original on 2010-03-22. Retrieved 2010-08-14. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  21. ^ "Election 2010: Connecticut Senate – Rasmussen Reports". Retrieved 2010-08-14.
  22. ^ "2010 House and Senate Candidate List". Archived from the original on 2009-08-20. Retrieved 2010-08-21. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  23. ^ Davis, Susan (July 28, 2010). "Washington Wire Q&A: Rob Simmons". The Wall Street Journal (blog). Retrieved July 29, 2010. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)
  24. ^ "Rob Simmons Suspends Connecticut Senate Republican Primary Campaign".
  25. ^ Neil Vigdor and Brian Lockhart (August 11, 2010). "McMahon sweeps to victory in GOP Senate race". Connecticut Post. Retrieved August 11, 2010.

External links[edit]

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Sam Gejdenson
United States Representative for the 2nd Congressional District of Connecticut
Succeeded by
Joe Courtney