The polls and the pundits predicted a pair of blowout wins on Tuesday in the U.S. Senate primaries and they were right on the money as both Republican Linda McMahon and Democrat U.S. Rep. Chris Murphy cruised to victory.
Ms. McMahon, a Greenwich resident and the former CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment, crushed former U.S. Rep. Christopher Shays, who had served the 4th Congressional District from 1987 to 2008. According to the Associated Press, as of Tuesday night Ms. McMahon had a 73% to 27% lead over Mr. Shays with 94% of state precincts reporting.
Mr. Murphy’s margin of victory was only slightly less impressive as he easily bested former Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz in their primary. Mr. Murphy, who has represented Connecticut’s fifth district since 2006 in the United State’s House of Representatives, had, according to the AP, a 67.5% to 32.5% with 92.5% of precincts reporting.
Mr. Shays, who had previously said that he had never run against an opponent he respected less than Ms. McMahon and left much doubt he would ever formally endorse her, did call to congratulate her and tell her she had his vote.
Ms. McMahon was introduced at the victory party by Darien First Selectman Jayme Stevensen as someone who had lived the American dream thanks to her business success.
“She’s a proven job creator, a wife, a mother and a grandmother,” Ms. Stevensen said before giving way to Ms. McMahon to the sound of roaring cheers and smacking thunder sticks, which the campaign had helpfully handed out prior to the speech.
In her speech before the raucous crowd, Ms. McMahon unveiled the theme to her campaign, saying she would bring a message to Connecticut voters that “we will do better.” Calling Mr. Murphy “a career politician”, Ms. McMahon said his six years in Congress have resulted in nothing more than “more spending, more debt and more unemployment.”
“On Nov. 6, Connecticut will have a choice that is clear, crystal clear,” Ms. McMahon said. “Chris Murphy is a professional politician. I am a small business jobs creator. He does not understand how jobs are created and has never created a job. I do. I have. We will. He puts his trust in government. I put my trust in you. He is a follower. I will lead.”
After his victory was confirmed, Mr. Murphy’s campaign issued a press release, saying that while Ms. McMahon, who has largely self-financed her campaign through her WWE fortune, would be able to outspend him on advertising, she would not outwork him.
“The coalition of regular, hard working middle class folks who made this resounding victory possible tonight will guarantee that Linda McMahon will not buy the election this fall,” Mr. Murphy said in a press release. “That’s the contrast in this election. Over the past 10 years, I’ve spent every ounce of my being fighting for that out of work mom who’s got to get back to work, for that hungry kid who just wants three meals a day, for that homeless veteran who wants a roof over his head. And during that same time, Linda McMahon has spent every ounce of her being fighting for profits at the expense of her employees, at the expense of Connecticut jobs, and at the expense of common decency.” In her speech, Ms. McMahon also took the chance to distance herself from the “Ryan budget” embraced by some Republicans and named after the Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan, who is now the Republican vice presidential candidate. She said she would “never support” a budget that cuts Medicare funding for seniors and said she was even open to the idea of raising taxes on the wealthy once the economy was strong again, but only if it was used to pay down the deficit and not for government spending.
However, this victory is not new territory for Ms. McMahon, who also easily won the Republican Senate primary in 2010, only to lose the general election to U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal. Polls have shown Mr. Murphy consistently ahead in a face-to-face mathch-up with Ms. McMahon but with a smaller lead than Mr. Blumenthal enjoyed. With that in mind, Ms. McMahon urged her supporters to enjoy the night but “not have too much fun” because they had a lot of hard work to start in the morning as they focused on the general election.
“We do not have to resign ourselves to failed leadership,” Ms. McMahon said. “We have it within our power to restore America and restore stronger growth to our economy, jobs to our people and a restore a future where our children and grandchildren are not crushed by impossible debt. The history of America is not about accepting mediocrity. It’s about Americans uniting, overcoming and astonishing the world.”