Upon entering Connecticut's GOP convention May 18, one immediately realized that it was strictly going to be a Linda McMahon super-show. Hartford's gathering was nothing like the Ron Paul-drenched, grassroots Republican conventions taking place elsewhere. This was a business affair - suits, ties, beautiful women with sweaters wrapped around their shoulders, bejeweled hands paying for club sodas with $100 bills.
And besides a few tables for other candidates, almost everything seemed to be celebrating Linda, including enormous bouquets of balloons, T-shirts, signs, tote bags, stickers, heart-shaped buttons, even some kind of prepackaged campaign pastry.
With all this propaganda, one forgot that Linda actually had a serious rival going into the convention - a former congressman of two decades and a respected policy wonk, Chris Shays.
Actually, the McMahon campaign did address Shays, covering tables with literature about how he had no regard for the Second Amendment. Another document, by McLaughlin & Associates, noted: "Chris Shays' campaign finance filings have shown his campaign to be floundering. The campaign has over $280,000 dollars (sic) in debt … The fact is, Chris Shays has little cash on hand and debt from previous elections. Even if Shays were to win the primary, he is in no financial position to run a statewide campaign. Only Linda McMahon has the resources to run a campaign that will match Democrats strength in Connecticut."
Showcasing this point, McMahon's campaign hosted a gathering in a large, separate room with several tables stocked with diverse foods, an open bar serving beer and wine, an enormous display of balloons together forming "2012," wait staff running to-and-fro, a large television screen, banners ... you get the picture.
Eventually Linda herself circulated among the hordes of people in this room, asking them whether or not they were delegates. When confronted with concerns over the section of the new National Defense Authorization Act, which allows for the permanent detention of U.S. citizens alleged to be terrorists, McMahon replied, "there needs to be some sort of oversight," at which point the staff stopped the candidate and moved her along.
After all, this wasn't a time for policy. This was a time for winning over fans, electrifying the crowd with patriotic music blaring in the background, just like Hulk Hogan. Lindamania was running wild, and she was showing everyone that no cash-strapped RINO would outdo her.
This was only made clearer when one actually visited the sad, small area behind the convention stage, marked by a handwritten sign reading: "Shays Reception." There, in that ornamented corner of a conspicuously-empty expanse, there was no open bar, no TV, no balloon shrine, no rock 'n' roll. Instead there were only a few banners, some flowers, and three elderly ladies giving away campaign material.
Also in this area was the man who had lost the GOP nomination to McMahon in the last Senate campaign, the genuinely-nice, military decorated Rob Simmons, another former congressman. When speaking to Simmons, one could sense his frustration with Linda's bravado and cash supply.
In the end, it was no surprise that delegates voted for McMahon by a nearly a two-to-one margin.
Afterwards, Linda celebrated with her famous family - husband and WWE chief executive Vince McMahon; former WWE European Champion Shane McMahon (her son); former WWE women's star, Stephanie McMahon (her daughter); and a man who has held just about every WWE title possible, "Triple H" Paul Levesque (her son-in-law).
Truthfully, Linda and her family had all won their prizes in the very same way. Indeed, it was Linda's much-touted "business experience" that got her the GOP endorsement. Specifically, it was being a wrestling promoter - a 21st century carnival barker - that gave her there wherewithal to convince delegates that they really had no choice. And it was also the enormous funds generated by the international conglomerate that is WWE that made this possible.
As was the case with all of her family's championship matches, the outcome of the bout was entirely scripted.
Steven Durel is a freelance writer who lives in Colchester.