McMahon, Murphy win blowouts, will face off in fall for Senate

UPDATED WEDNESDAY 12:30 P.M. — The polls and the pundits predicted a pair of blowout wins on Tuesday in the United States 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 figures from the state, as of Wednesday morning Ms. McMahon had a 73% to 27% lead over Mr. Shays with 98% 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 5th District since 2006 in the United State’s House of Representatives, had, according to the AP, a 67% to 33% with 98% of precincts reporting.

Surprisingly, Mr. Murphy’s margin of victory in Greenwich far exceeded Ms. McMahon’s, though she had superior turnout in the Republican-dominated town. According to the town clerk’s office, Mr. Murphy brought in 1,180 votes, nearly 1,000 more than Ms. Bysiewicz’s 219. By contrast, Ms. McMahon’s margin of victory over Mr. Shays in town was less than 500 votes, but with far more votes cast. She received 1,939 votes to Mr. Shays 1,473.

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 Stevenson 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. Stevenson 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 addressed his own throng of cheering supporters in New Haven, 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.

“Here’s what I know tonight, 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. “I hope Linda McMahon and her high-priced handlers and consultants are watching tonight. I might not be a billionaire. My family might not live in a mansion. Hell, I don’t even own a yacht. But here’s what I do have, I have thousands of middle class families who stood with us tonight, who will be joined by tens of thousands more in November, who want a senator who understands their struggles, and who has been fighting for them for the last decade.”

While Ms. McMahon criticized Mr. Murphy’s experience in government, he embraced it as a positive, saying he had used his time in office to work in a bipartisan fashion on legislation like Connecticut’s stem cell investment law, which he said created hundreds of jobs in the state while fighting deadly diseases, starting the Buy America Caucus to stop outsourcing of jobs to China and Mexico, and fighting for ethics reform in Congress.

“I’ve spent every ounce of my being fighting for that out-of-work dad who’s got to get back to work, for that hungry kid who just wants three meals a day and for that homeless veteran who wants a roof over his head,” Mr. Murphy said. “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. I’ve spent the last ten years running to people to help them. Linda McMahon has spent the last ten years running over people to help herself.”

In her speech, Ms. McMahon also took the chance to distance herself from the “Ryan budget” embraced by some Republicans and named after 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 Sen. Dick Blumenthal. Polls have shown Mr. Murphy consistently ahead in a face-to-face matchup 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.”

There was a large contingent of Greenwich supporters at Ms. McMahon’s victory celebration including First Selectman Peter Tesei, Selectman David Theis, State Rep. Livvy Floren (R-149), Tax Collector Tod Laudonia and Jim Campbell, chairman of the Greenwich Republican Town Committee. A strong supporter of Ms. McMahon both this year and in 2010, Mr. Campbell said he believed this race would have a very different result.

“She’s more confident than she was two years ago,” Mr. Campbell told the Post. “She understands the concerns of Connecticut voters. She’s learned a lot since she ran two years ago. I think she’s grown a lot. She’s always been capable. She’s shown in her business career that she knows how to get the job done. Now she’s learned how to best present herself and campaign amongst the people of Connecticut. It’s not easy the first time out, even when you’re successful in business. She’s learned how to be a really great candidate and I think you will see her be victorious in November.”

And despite Connecticut’s “blue state” reputation, Mr. Campbell pointed to a recent poll showing President Barack Obama polling less strongly than expected against Republican Mitt Romney in the state as a sign that the race here will be “far more competitive” than people expect. He added that Mr. Murphy is far less of a known commodity than Mr. Blumenthal was two years ago.

“I think voters know Linda and the more they know her, the more they like her,” Mr. Campbell said.

Frank Farricker, chairman of the Greenwich Democratic Town Committee, not surprisingly, feels just as strongly about Mr. Murphy’s chances for victory in November, claiming his message will resonate with far more voters than Ms. McMahon’s.

“Chris Murphy is someone who understands how Connecticut wants to be represented in the Senate,” Mr. Farricker said in a Tuesday interview with the Post. “Linda McMahon is supported by a small group of hyper wealthy people and despite her hyped up new character as someone who once went bankrupt, she doesn’t have a sense of what the average Connecticut resident needs. Chris Murphy wants to represent all of Connecticut. Linda McMahon is like someone who had nothing else better to do and thought that being a senator would be a good way to pass the time.”

 

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