Blumenthal needs more than a rising dead wrestler toll

One night last week my cell phone rang, and I answered it even though I didn't recognize the number.

On the line was Linda McMahon, making yet another pitch for her candidacy for U.S. Senate.

Like everyone else in Connecticut, I spend a lot of time sorting all the glossy brochures featuring McMahon out of my piles of regular mail. Most all of it is a front-on assault of the competition, Attorney General Richard Blumenthal.

It's also hard not to get hit with a McMahon ad any time you turn on the TV in Connecticut lately.

And now Burger King is distributing kids' meals for little boys that feature World Wrestling Entertainment action toys. (A friend noted, though, that the toys don't include any of the dead WWE wrestlers who have been causing McMahon so much grief as of late.)

Honestly, I feel sometimes that McMahon might speak up and start addressing me from the back seat of my car some morning when I slip into the driver's seat and find her there waiting to pounce, to trash talk Blumenthal some more.

No doubt she could afford some version of this, having spent some $22 million of her WWE fortune winning the Republican nomination. (That was money, which, by the way, apparently didn't go toward paying for much in the way of health benefits for ailing wrestlers.)

Of course, through all of this, I wonder, where is Blumenthal these days?

Was The New York Times on target in the spring when the newspaper reported that some Democrats were wringing their hands, worrying that Blumenthal was "Martha Coakley in pants," a longtime attorney general about to squander a popular career on a lame political campaign, like his counterpart in Massachusetts.

That was back in April, of course, long before McMahon finished off her Republican challengers and began to focus squarely on Coakley, er, Blumenthal.

Some ads have surfaced, in the meantime, from Democrats willing to jab McMahon where she seems most vulnerable. One, for instance, features her husband in the ring, demanding that a woman before him strip down and bark like a dog.

Indeed, much of the WWE programming should be an anathema to Republicans who espouse core family values, and yet voters, including many hardcore Republicans, continue to successfully look away when these issues are raised against McMahon.

She still trails in the polls, but has been gaining ground and does remarkably well at the moment against a Democrat who has polished his Connecticut credentials and popularity for so long.

So is the attorney general wise in staying above the fray? Why is he not fighting back?

Should he do more to engage the challenger and abandon his current strategy of business as usual as attorney general? Would an attack on WWE's sexually explicit programming, for instance, be more effective than complaining again about escort ads on Craigslist?

Or is Blumenthal doomed to become New England's next Martha Coakley after all?

I think Blumenthal should directly address some of the issues of the campaign, not just where McMahon's money comes from, but how the two differ so profoundly on the issues.

He needs to do more than wait for voter outrage over the next dead wrestler.

The fall debates might be an appropriate place to do that, although people who worry that Blumenthal might be Connecticut's Martha Coakley would not have taken much solace in his debate performance against Democratic challenger Merrick Alpert.

The attorney general has had a long career in which he was able go after institutional and corporate wrongdoers. Now would seem to be the time for him to go after the people who would step in front of him to fill Connecticut's empty Senate seat, since he's promised Connecticut Democrats he would try to keep it for them.

It's no time for surrogates. And time, as the lawyers like to say, is of the essence.

This is the opinion of David Collins.

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