The Corner

Money Match

With Sen. Chris Dodd (D., Conn.) bowing out of his re-election bid, Democrat Richard Blumenthal, Connecticut’s popular attorney general, is widely seen as the frontrunner to win the seat. Rasmussen gives Blumenthal a 20-point edge against both of his possible GOP opponents, Linda McMahon and Rob Simmons, who are currently locked in a tight primary. Dodd’s announcement is a huge blow to the pair: A month ago, Simmons held a 13-point lead over Dodd and McMahon led Dodd by six.

McMahon, the former CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment, tells National Review Online that despite the changing dynamics of the race, she’s in it to win it. She means it: ABC News reports that McMahon is prepared to spend $50 million of her own money to beat Simmons, a former congressman, and, she hopes, Blumenthal.

“My strategy hasn’t changed,” says McMahon. “Blumenthal, Dodd, and Simmons are all professional politicians. Blumenthal is a formidable candidate, but I think anybody can be beat.” Simmons, she says, “is a Republican, but didn’t vote as a fiscal conservative while in Congress. He voted for card check, he voted for cap-and-trade, and he got a ‘D’ from the National Taxpayers Union.” Simmons, a former aide to Barry Goldwater, recently responded to McMahon’s criticism on his campaign’s website:

I was wrong about two issues I supported in Congress – the Employee Free Choice Act (also known as “card check”) and “cap and trade.” After hearing more from the people who would be most affected by these bills, I became convinced they would cause more harm than good and I would oppose them in the Senate.

Simmons has also tried to tack right via appearances at tea-party rallies around Connecticut. McMahon says it won’t be enough to convince conservative voters. She says her experience leading WWE “from a small family enterprise into a global business” will connect with voters who want leaders “who know how to create jobs and create incentives for small businesses.”

McMahon, however, also has some left-of-center skeletons in her closet, as Jack Fowler points out:

What is Linda McMahon’s political past? Well, according to the public record, she was BFF with Rahm Emanuel, and a healthy donor to Democrat causes and candidates. F’regsample:

* 2008 gave $2,300 to Mark Warner

* 2008 gave $2,300 to Rahm Emanuel

* 2007 gave $5,000 to the Democrat Congressional Campaign Committee

* 2007 gave $2,500 to the Dem “Our Common Values” PAC

* 2006 gave $5,000 to the Dem “Forward Together” PAC (husband Vince also game the $5k)

* 2005 and 2004 gave Emanuel a grand each year

* 2006 gave $10,000 to the DCCC

McMahon shrugs it off. “I was CEO of a public, nonpartisan company,” she says. “I’ve contributed to both Democrats and Republicans along the way in my career.”

And what about wrestling? Will it play in the tony Connecticut ‘burbs? “The fact that the product was an entertainment product based around wrestling doesn’t tell the whole story of WWE,” says McMahon. “We employed hundreds of men and women, and my job was about building and running a corporation, from working with NBC on television programs to driving revenue, securing advertising, and finding sponsors. It’s a corporate business and a publicly-traded company.”

So who was McMahon’s favorite wrestler? “Andre the Giant,” she says. “He was huge, with this deep, baritone bass voice and very formidable in the ring. He was also a gentle giant.” I remind her that a street-art campaign based on Andre the Giant launched artist Shepard Fairey’s career. “He’s the guy who designed the Obama ‘HOPE’ poster,” I say. “I had no idea,” she laughs.

Robert Costa was formerly the Washington editor for National Review.

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