While Linda McMahon swept to a landslide primary victory over former Congressman Chris Shays in Tuesday’s Republican Senate primary, getting 73 percent of the vote, she is still not very popular in Stonington. It was one of a few towns backing Shays, voting 364-345 for him.
Stonington is the home of former 2nd District Congressman Rob Simmons. Many of Simmons’ supporters still bristle at the treatment he received at the hands of McMahon and the state Republican Party back in the 2010 Senate race. The party shoved aside the former lawmaker, state business advocate and decorated Vietnam War veteran in favor of the professional wrestling executive. McMahon had the celebrity status and, more importantly, tens of millions of dollars to spend in the race against Democrat Richard Blumenthal. Simmons could not even get the convention to back him, as McMahon threw around the cash to sew up the necessary delegates.
Another prominent Republican in town, former state Sen. Cathy Cook, a mother who raised a mentally handicapped child and has advocated for such individuals throughout her career, loathes McMahon’s leadership of the WWE for allowing a mentally handicapped person to be demeaned in one of its wrestling soap operas.
All that ill will resulted in one lost town, albeit of little consequence.
A further dissection of the results shows another interesting phenomenon — McMahon did not do well among Republicans in some of the wealthiest communities in the state. She got fewer votes than Shays in Fairfield, in Westport (median family income $175,000), and in Weston (median family income $180,321). McMahon may be one of them when it comes to riches, but perhaps not one of them in the terms of how she made that money — the tawdry world of professional wrestling. They went with the more traditional Connecticut Republican, Shays.
The biggest news, of course, was that these few losses were the exception. Most everywhere else in Connecticut McMahon won and won big. She comes into the general election soaring.
And she came out fighting, with an invitation Wednesday to debate Chris Murphy four times. (The Day sent a letter to the campaign saying it stands ready to host one of those debates in conjunction with WTNH). Having been defeated two years ago, McMahon is clearly not in the mood to spend another big chunk of her fortune just to lose twice. This is going to be quite the contest.