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Altimari reports: "After Connecticut's most expensive campaign ever, voters on Tuesday chose Democrat Chris Murphy as the state's newest U.S. senator."

Linda McMahon spent nearly $100 Million dollars in two losing elections. (photo: AP)
Linda McMahon spent nearly $100 Million dollars in two losing elections. (photo: AP)


Linda McMahon Loses Second Bid for Senate Despite Spending Nearly 100 Million Dollars

By Daniela Altimari, The Hartford Courant

07 November 12

 

 

fter Connecticut's most expensive campaign ever, voters on Tuesday chose Democrat Chris Murphy as the state's newest U.S. senator, once again rejecting multimillionaire former wrestling executive Linda McMahon, the Republican nominee.

McMahon sunk more than $43 million of her vast fortune in her quest to win the open seat — on top of the $50 million she spent on her unsuccessful 2010 Senate bid — but all that money was unable overcome her persistently high negative poll ratings and the structural disadvantage faced by Republican candidates in deep blue Connecticut.

"Tonight we proved that what matters most in life is the measure of your ideas, the measure of your determination and the measure of your friends, not the measure of your wallet," Murphy told a jubilant crowd of supporters at the Hartford Hilton. "I am proud to be your next U.S. Senator."

Murphy, who was joined on stage by his family, said he had just ended a telephone call with McMahon and congratulated "her for a hard-fought race," as the crowd booed. He said that the idea of a strong role for government "can't be washed away by dollars and slick TV ads."

With 74 percent of the vote in, Murphy led 54 percent to 44 percent. Murphy's victory, one of several key wins for Democratic Senate candidates throughout the nation, helped the party maintain control of the chamber.

"Chris Murphy went up against a mountain of money and beat an opponent who spent more than anyone else in history to win a seat in the U.S. Senate,'' said Sen. Patty Murray of Washington state, the chairwoman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. "We worked hard to support Chris because I knew that he would never back down and always focus on fighting for Connecticut jobs and working families."

The race will go down as the costliest campaign in the state's history. In addition to McMahon's hefty investment, Murphy raised about $10 million, and outside groups flooded the state with an additional $10 million. Much of that money was spent by labor unions, abortion-rights advocates and national Democratic groups who backed Murphy, but McMahon also benefited from ads bankrolled by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other conservative groups.

In Stamford, McMahon suggested in comments to supporters that she had no regrets. "We had a good race and I'm really proud of the effort that we had,'' she said. Her husband, Vince McMahon, joined her on stage.

McMahon sought to quell speculation about her future political plans that began even before Tuesday's results were official.

"I do not have any plans to run for office again at this time," she said. "I'm not considering running for governor. That's not an office that I'll be seeking."

The bitter campaign derived much of its intensity because control of the Senate hung in the balance. That drew several big names to the campaign trail, including former President Bill Clinton and former University of Connecticut men's basketball coach Jim Calhoun for Murphy and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Arizona Sen. John McCain for McMahon.

Murphy got his biggest boost from the highest-profile Democratic surrogate: President Barack Obama, who appeared in a television ad endorsing Murphy. It was the only TV ad that the president made for a Senate candidate in the 2012 election cycle and it flooded the state's airwaves on the final weekend of the campaign.

Democrats were jubilant over the victory. Murphy will serve in the Senate alongside Sen. Richard Blumenthal, who defeated McMahon by 12 percentage points in 2010.

"We showed that Senate seats are not for sale," a beaming Blumenthal told the crowd at the Hilton Hartford hotel.

Murphy, 39, is the son of a lawyer and a public school teacher who grew up in Wethersfield and earned a law degree from the University of Connecticut. He made his first run for public office in 1997, winning a seat on the Southington planning and zoning commission, and continued to ascend the political ladder. He was elected to Congress from the state's 5th District in 2006, unseating 12-term incumbent Nancy Johnson.

When Sen. Joe Lieberman announced his retirement in January of 2011, Murphy was immediately tagged as the front-runner to succeed him. He skated past fellow Democrat Susan Bysiewicz in an August primary, and most national pundits predicted that he would have an easy victory against McMahon.

But there were some early stumbles. Murphy, who was largely unknown to vast swaths of the electorate, was painted by McMahon as a legislative lightweight who skipped out on important hearings in Washington.

Murphy was also hurt by revelations that he was sued for foreclosure in 2007, and for failing to pay his rent in 2003. McMahon alleged that he received a special mortgage deal from a local bank that benefited from a bailout that he supported.

Murphy acknowledged that he "made mistakes" and admitted that he was sloppy with his personal finances, although he never explained how many mortgage payments he missed prior to the foreclosure action. However, the attacks were muted when records came to light showing that McMahon was late on property tax payments several times over the past two decades.

For much of the fall, polls projected a tight race. An August Quinnipiac University survey showed McMahon holding a three-point lead; by mid-September, the candidates were essentially tied.

Then came a series of televised debates in which Murphy, a political veteran, was seen as having a surer command of public policy than McMahon, who has never held elective office.

The focus of the race also shifted, from economic issues to social ones. McMahon believed that the economy would be the central theme of the race. She made her six-point jobs plan the foundation of her candidacy while repeatedly hammering Murphy for what she said was his lack of one. On social issues, she portrayed herself as an ideological moderate Republican who supports abortion rights and same-sex marriage.

But Murphy cast her as a hard-right ideologue who would vote with an increasingly conservative Republican leadership. The Democrats succeeded in imprinting the national "war on women" script onto the Connecticut race; Murphy received an infusion of cash from the political arms of Planned Parenthood and NARAL and brought in women to testify about what they called his stellar record on women's health and pay equity.

McMahon, who was seeking to become the state's first female senator, also launched her own women's initiative, meeting with hundreds of women in small group gatherings and emphasizing her personal narrative as a young wife and mother struggling to build the business that became WWE. Despite those efforts, she continued to be viewed more favorably by male voters than female ones.

Ultimately, the state's political demographics were stacked against her: Connecticut hasn't had a Republican in the U.S. Senate since Lowell P. Weicker lost to Lieberman in 1988.

The state has just 430,439 Republican voters, compared with 767,693 registered Democrats and 872,243 unaffiliated voters.

In the frenzied final days of the long campaign, McMahon made a controversial play for Democrats. She ran a television ad that featured supporters of President Barack Obama explaining why they were choosing her. And she handed out campaign literature in the state's three largest cities encouraging people to vote for both her and Obama.

But the message angered some Republicans and did not appear to resonate with some Democrats.

In New Haven, at the Hall of Records polling place downtown, Jeremy Owen, who voted for Obama and Murphy, said that McMahon's commercials saying to vote for her and Obama were "just appalling."

"If you vote for Linda McMahon and Barack Obama, you're going to have nothing getting done. It's just like voting opposite ideas. Why would you do that?"

 

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+27 # dkonstruction 2012-11-07 13:15
So glad Lieberman is now gone and Linda McMahon spent $43 million of her own money only to lose. Smackdown indeed. Sweeet.
 
 
+5 # Ralph Averill 2012-11-08 02:03
"So glad Lieberman is now gone and Linda McMahon spent $43 million of her own money only to lose. Smackdown indeed. Sweeet."
McMahon spent over $60 million two years ago trying, and failing, to get Dodd's Senate seat. That's over $100 million! So much for her campaign pitch about what a sharp business woman she is.
Adios, Linda. Don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.
Connecticut Democrat.
 
 
0 # Interested Observer 2012-11-08 08:13
Vanity is priceless.
 
 
+2 # robniel 2012-11-08 13:08
A fool and her money are soon parted. This is good for the economy.
 
 
+19 # ghostperson 2012-11-07 20:51
Glad to know there is something money can't buy.

It boggles the mind that the GOP spent so much money in this election to stand still.

Once again ordinary people under-estimated by the leisure class.
 
 
+1 # KittatinyHawk 2012-11-08 10:35
Boggled me more than anyone would vote for GOP/TP whose spending on a stupid Campaign vs donating the money to Disaster Fund, to Help Foreclosures their buddies were in on.

I had hoped a better blue streak but with OB in many Red States losing within 20 percent I believe that says something.
I believe those people who gave the finger to Corporation Tactics, to Poltician, and Diebold Deserve a Standing Ovation.
For the evil states, I am ashamed of Louisiana cause they certainly didn't get a response from their buds, and took so long, and certainly had their hand out for themselves than the people get the Same Award Arizona like Texas should leave us...the Corporate Slugs, the Politicians can take their belongings and start over, with their good ol boys Adios Just leave the land, as you do not own it, the taxpayers do, working class do. Take everything of yours and leave, you will not be missed ADIOS
 
 
+7 # luvdoc 2012-11-07 22:16
To the 1% and your super pacs: the voters are on to your inane attack ads. The mega bucks you spend to buy power are useless. The 99% are awake and aware. Beware. luvdoc
 
 
+5 # Kootenay Coyote 2012-11-08 07:47
Money doesn’t always buy everything, especially brains.
 
 
+3 # Kayjay 2012-11-08 08:47
It's great that McMahon failed to buy her play toy. re. Senate seat. She is the poster girl for our desperate need for campaign finance reform. Give the final two candidates 2.5 million to run a campaign. They can show us what they can produce on a fixed budget. Let's hope this is the first salvo in snubbing those with the most $$$ in winning office.
 
 
+3 # AndreM5 2012-11-08 10:06
Also limit the campaigns to four months, PLEASE!

McMahon can join the Meg and Karly club--ultra-exc lusive and very private--where they can compare bank accounts without bothering us any more.
 
 
+2 # KittatinyHawk 2012-11-08 10:40
I think it is great she spent her money. Now IRS has to make sure she doesnot write it off as it was Political Contribution.
More than happy for the Candidates to spend their money. Just no outside money over a cap of say 2 million. CU must go and super pacs. Also no foreign money for campaigns. Invest in your poor, your own economy...we can do our own Campaigns just fine.

I know a lil about her, not very environmental, and heard she is an elitist.
Murphy missing couple payments is dumb, hope he gets someone to help him do his books. I am going to watch if he does start voting or if he is missing Senate ...Never hurts to watch.
I guess McMahon will now try for Gov. I hope Lierberman does and beats her.
 
 
+1 # dkonstruction 2012-11-08 11:26
Quoting KittatinyHawk:
I think it is great she spent her money. Now IRS has to make sure she doesnot write it off as it was Political Contribution.
More than happy for the Candidates to spend their money. Just no outside money over a cap of say 2 million. CU must go and super pacs. Also no foreign money for campaigns. Invest in your poor, your own economy...we can do our own Campaigns just fine.

I know a lil about her, not very environmental, and heard she is an elitist.
Murphy missing couple payments is dumb, hope he gets someone to help him do his books. I am going to watch if he does start voting or if he is missing Senate ...Never hurts to watch.
I guess McMahon will now try for Gov. I hope Lierberman does and beats her.


Lieberman was one of the most hawkish and reactionary democrats when it came to US foreign policy particularly when it came to anything to do with the Middle East (not to mention his championing such legislation as the Patriot Act and NDAA). The last thing we need is Joe Lieberman back in "public service." I'm glad Mcmahon lost but i'm equally glad Lieberma is gone to.
 
 
0 # Ralph Averill 2012-11-08 13:22
Murphy missed a lot of meetings, but he made 97% of the votes. The ones he missed his vote wouldn't have mattered.
It is unlikely in the extreme for either McMahon or Lieberman to run for governor. Look for Lieberman to be named ambassador to Israel. Look for McMahon to quietly disappear.
 
 
0 # freeportguy 2012-11-09 04:29
There must be some serious money to be made in the Senate over and above the salary and prestige for anyone to put this much personal money in it...
 

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