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Is Linda McMahon the Ideal Moderate Republican?

Linda McMahon is almost every moderate Republican's ideal candidate -- except for her family's controversial business, the WWE. Can she win over Connecticut's blue-leaning voters?

Voters in Connecticut’s recent Republican primary chose Linda McMahon to run against Democrat challenger Chris Murphy in November’s election for U.S. Senate. Barring any unforeseen events, either Murphy or McMahon will occupy the retiring Senator Joseph Lieberman’s seat – and the race, once thought to be a shoe-in for Murphy, appears increasingly up for grabs.

Last week, many readers reminded me that – hey! – isn’t Patch about local news? So, mouse in hand, I decided to learn everything I could about Mrs. McMahon in preparation for this week’s column. As I read campaign website fluff pieces, political blogs and just-the-facts websites such as OnTheIssues and FactCheck, I realized that this candidate is the embodiment of the years-long internal Republican Party battle between the social moderates and social conservatives.    

Undoubtedly, party leadership gets it -- the odds of a far-right-winger winning our traditionally blue state are slim to none. And, up until recently, most pundits never even gave McMahon a chance – and her double-digit loss to Richard Blumenthal in the 2010 Senate race appears to bear out that assertion.

To McMahon’s credit, she didn’t give up – and she’s spent millions of her own money in the process, waging a public relations campaign that paints her more as everyone’s favorite grandma rather than the professional wrestling CEO who once kicked her husband in the groin for television entertainment purposes and whose company, the WWE, came under investigation for allegedly promoting steroids abuse among its wrestlers.

On my plus side: Linda McMahon understands business and the economy. She understands what it’s like to struggle financially, unlike many modern candidates. She supports abortion rights but doesn’t believe the federal government should subsidize it. She supports openly-gay military service, and believes same sex marriage should be a state’s rights issue.  (See? Something for every far-right and far-left advocate to hate! But that’s about as much social compromise as Republicans are willing to offer.)

The Greenwich-residing McMahon family has donated millions to education, literacy and non-partisan voter-registration charitable efforts. Linda herself donates her time to a variety of causes I believe in, including the Make-a-Wish Foundation, the Special Olympics and more. She’s also earned many service awards, on behalf of herself and the WWE.

Nevertheless, as the former CEO of WWE, Linda McMahon made millions objectifying women and glorifying violence -- although she brushed off that criticism by calling WWE events a “soap opera.” Plus, in addition to the steroid abuse problem, 2010 campaign foe Richard Blumenthal criticized McMahon and the WWE for accepting Connecticut tax breaks while putting 10 percent of the WWE employees out of work.

The WWE also faced criticism that it didn’t provide health care or disability benefits to its wrestlers, who sometimes sustain serious injuries – although they are independent contractors, and the WWE is under no legal obligation to do so.

Regardless, McMahon's business background is fair game and voters will decide how much the company's image really matters. Many have speculated that McMahon cleaned up the company's image years ago for political rather than moral reasons. 

Regardless, I think McMahon represents a real-world-savvy viewpoint. I think she will attract moderate voters – especially young Republican voters, if The New York Times is to be believed. Even Paul Ryan, the ultra-conservative VP selection of Mitt Romney, is downplaying his extreme views on issues such as abortion and same sex marriage in favor of focusing attention on where it should be: the economy.

A Republican polling expert for Romney-supporting super PAC called Crossroads Generation told the Times, “just as young people don’t have to buy a whole album on iTunes and can pick and choose just the songs they like, they can customize their political views – and they do.”

A Pew Research Center study found that young Republicans view increased marital and workplace diversity as positive changes for the better – a marked shift from even 10 years ago. The shift that independent-right voters report is one toward decreased government, a stronger economic focus and increased personal (social) freedoms.

And, cheesy televised plotlines notwithstanding, McMahon appears to best represent those ideals.

Mary McGovern August 29, 2012 at 06:42 PM
Paul - The convention confirmed the incident in a statement late Tuesday.!!!!!!!!! Two people were ejected from the Republican National Convention when they threw nuts at a black CNN camera woman and said "this is how we feed animals," the network said Wednesday. "CNN can confirm there was an incident directed at an employee inside the Tampa Bay Times Forum" on Tuesday, the opening day of a gala at which former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney will accept his party's nomination to challenge President Barack Obama in November's election. "CNN worked with convention officials to address this matter and will have no further comment." Several witnesses observed the exchange, CNN reported, and convention security personnel immediately removed the two people from the forum. The convention confirmed the incident in a statement late Tuesday. "Two attendees tonight exhibited deplorable behavior. Their conduct was inexcusable and unacceptable. This kind of behavior will not be tolerated," organizers said. The incident is surely not what Republicans wanted 10 weeks out from the election. Romney has struggled to attract African American voters as well as Hispanics, and he is also on the wrong side of the gender gap, with polls consistently showing women voters preferring Obama to Romney.
Paul Improta August 29, 2012 at 06:47 PM
Carl, more evidence of a vast left-wing conspiracy to inject race in the RNC http://bit.ly/OuC8g7 Listen to David Chalian, Washington Bureau Chief for Yahoo News have a chuckle, unaware he was on mic, that Mitt Romney "isn't concerned at all" refering to Hurricane Isaac, "they are happy to have a party while black people drown". Funny, I seem to recall the RNC was postponed a day, a Bobby Jindal (R) Louisiana chose to cancel his attendance at the "party" to mind his state. I also noticed the only one who was out campaigning and shaking down contributors while Isaac was making landfall was none other than the huckster in-chief, Barack Obama, who is out on his "piss on their fire" tour, hoping to distract people from focusing in on his hapless 4 years, while the media does everything it can to help with tabloidism and unsubstantiated allegations, and now an apparent collusion to inject racism into the mix.
Paul Improta August 29, 2012 at 06:52 PM
Who were they? It's as credible as an "unnamed source". And another opportunity to repeat the talking points
PJ August 29, 2012 at 09:18 PM
If 97% of african americans are voting for obama I would hope that 97% of white people of European heritage vote for Mitt Romney.
Bill Hillman August 30, 2012 at 12:32 AM
I'd be happy if 97% of all eligible voters voted!

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