World Wrestling Entertainment CEO Linda McMahon Announces Run Against Dodd In Connecticut (UPDATED)

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For those of you who thought American politics now looks like professional wrestling, your belief may soon get a bit of validation and closure: Linda McMahon, CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. has quit her post to devote her time a campaign aimed at getting the Republican nomination and running against Democratic Senator Chris Dodd:

Linda McMahon, the chief executive officer of World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. announced today she is resigning to run for Senate in her home state of Connecticut. McMahon, a Republican, will look to unseat Democrat Christopher Dodd in the 2010 election.

Although not nearly as flamboyant as her husband — WWE Chairman and ringmaster Vince McMahon — Linda McMahon is considered the brains behind the brawn. She has been CEO of WWE since 1997 and is respected on Wall Street. She and her husband [seen in the photo above] have been focusing on making over WWE from a raunch-fest to more family friendly entertainment, albeit a family that likes to throw each other around a ring and talk in double entendrer. Whether the move towards a kinder, gentler wresting was in part motivated by her political aspirations remains to be seen, but it probably won’t hurt.

With deep pockets and a fairly established presence in the state, McMahon could be a force in the race. According to the The Hill, a Washington political publication, McMahon’s likely opponents for the Republican nomination are former Congressman Rob Simmons and former Ambassador to Ireland Tom Foley. Interestingly, former Connecticut governor and senator Lowell Weicker is on the WWE’s board of directors.

UPDATE: CNN reports that she has announced her plans to run on her website:

McMahon, former CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment, describes herself as a “different kind of candidate” who will run a “different kind of campaign.”

“With your help, we are going to change Washington and start making Washington work for ordinary people,” she said in a statement posted on her campaign Web site.

She pledged to “help” finance the campaign with the fortune she made from her wrestling empire and limit contributions to $100.

The Hill:

“A decision is imminent, and she will likely make a decision over the next couple of days,” said a Republican strategist. “It will be made sooner rather than later.”

One well-placed source said McMahon is “99 percent” in. Another said the announcement could come as early as Wednesday.

The second source noted that she has done polling on the race and hired consultants Mike Slanker and Patrick Sullivan. She has also brought on former National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) spokesman Ed Patru to help with early communications.

Patru said McMahon hasn’t made a decision yet.

“She is taking into consideration a number of factors, including resources and the time commitment it would take to win,” he said. “She plays to win, so if she gets in, she’s in all the way. She has the capacity to bring considerable resources to the race, and she has an established record.”

McMahon, the wife of WWE Chairman Vince McMahon, would throw a big wrench into the race against Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) simply by virtue of her ability to spend potentially tens of millions of dollars of her own money on the race.

Another factor: the McMahons are masters at knowing how to effectively use television media. Dodd has been around, and is a second generation politician, but a big chunk of what the McMahons do is to figure out how to best use and maximize media capabilities. Dodd will have to have a toprate media team if she gets the nomination.

Now the question becomes: is she a viable candidate?Can she do it? Dodd has been one of the Democrat’s most vulnerable Senators. Can she put his career in a sleeperhold by doing a definitive smackdown on election day?

New polls show his continued vulnerability. The Hartford Courant:

A Rasmussen poll out this morning shows Republican Rob Simmons continues to maintain a healthy lead over Democratic U.S. Senator Chris Dodd.

Simmons, a former Congressman from Stonington, leads Dodd 49 to 39 percent, according to the survey of 500 likely voters.

More bad news for Dodd: He is essentially tied with two lesser-known GOP candidates and one potential candidate.

“While Simmons, a former congressman, is the strongest early challenger to the Democratic incumbent, there are several other Republicans in the running. Dodd finds himself essentially even with state Senator Sam Caligiuri, former U.S. Ambassador to Ireland Tom Foley and Peter Schiff, the high-profile president of Euro Pacific Capital. In each of those match-ups, Dodd earns between 40% and 43% of the vote while the Republicans all fall in the same range,” states a summary of the poll results posted on Rasmussen’s website.

“Typically, when an incumbent polls below 50%, they are considered potentially vulnerable. Dodd certainly falls into that category.”

But Rasumussen warns that GOPers shouldn’t be breaking out the champaign just yet. And the Politico notes:

After spending much of August recuperating from prostate cancer surgery, Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) has seen his political standing improve, at least according to a new poll commissioned by the liberal blog Daily Kos.

The poll shows Dodd’s approval rating almost as high as his disapproval rating: Forty-three percent of Connecticut voters view him favorably, while 47 percent view him unfavorably. Those still aren’t great numbers, but they are at about the same level as those of Dodd’s Senate colleague Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.).

And Dodd trails former Rep. Rob Simmons, his Republican challenger, by only 4 points, 46 percent to 42 percent. In a July Quinnipiac poll, Dodd trailed Simmons by 9 points.

So any candidate won’t do since Dodd seems to be a political survivor. Is McMahon the Republican who can break a political chair over his head?

Bios of McMahon are here and here.

UPDATE: Chris Cillizza:

It remains to be seen how serious a candidate McMahon will be and how her candidacy will affect the current field. Her ability to self-fund forces the other candidates to take her seriously but her association with a company that has built its success on excess will be a major liability.

…..While Dodd is still in deep when it comes to his reelection prospects, the entrance of McMahon (and, potentially, Schiff) could help him right himself. The more crowded the Republican field is — and the more it starts to take on the appearance of a circus — the more the eventual nominee will have to spend to win and the less time they will have to focus their fire on Dodd.

Expect Dodd to run on his seniority in the Senate and the seriousness with which he takes the job, attempting, in doing so, to draw a bright contrast with the Republican field.

Some Other Viewpoints:
The Scorecard:

In Connecticut, Republicans have to win a critical 15 percent threshold at a Republican convention filled with GOP activists before they can move onto the primary ballot — and that could be challenging for an outsider like McMahon to accomplish.

…If nothing else, McMahon will provide even more entertainment to a race that has seen no shortage of headlines. Her campaign will be an interesting test on whether voters will be willing to support a political outsider — even, as Chuck Todd noted, when they come from a sport most associated with the worst of politics.

--First Read:

. First Read has confirmed that Linda McMahon, World Wrestling Entertainment CEO and wife to WWE honcho Vince McMahon, today is announcing that she’s running for the Senate in Connecticut, setting up a Republican cage match for the right to challenge vulnerable Sen. Chris Dodd (D). Indeed, McMahon will be joining a growing GOP field that includes former Rep. Rob Simmons, former Ireland Ambassador Tom Foley, and state Sen. Sam Caligiuri. Considering the image Congress is portraying to the American public these days, is it any wonder that no one dismisses out of hand the possibility that someone associated with professional wrestling is a legitimate candidate for the U.S. Senate? Forget Mrs. McMahon; why not just have Vince himself run. At this point, it’s only fitting, right?

The Trolopundit:

Now there’s a debate it’d like to see..In keeping with the WWE’s tradition of anger, violence, and solving problems through brute strength, McMahon is a Republican. She’s also capable of self-funding.

Chattah Box:

To say she has considerable resources is an understatement. McMahon has the capacity to contribute tens of millions of dollars of her own money to her campaign. Such a large pool of personal financial reserves could put pressure on incumbent Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), who has experienced weakening poll numbers in his home state.

The GOP Conn. Senate race would be crowded if McMahon decides to jump into the fray, but she has the financial advantage right from the onset.

Despite her corporate executive abilities and large personal fortune, McMahon’s often crude and over-the-top WWE entertainment business would leave her vulnerable. Reportedly, her husband Vince McMahon has toned down his antics of late, as his wife was angling for a spot on the Conn. State Board of Education.

The Patriot Room:

She’s the wife of Vince McMahon and a Republican with tons of bucks. Could be a RINO, but we can’t expect much more from the People’s Republic of Connecticut. A Senate pickup is a Senate pickup.

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  • Father_Time

    “Fake”, is very Republican.

  • SteveK

    Maybe superdestroyer (or his TMV icon) should contact her and lobby for the campaign manager position. :-)

  • Leonidas

    Maybe not the best candidate, but anyone would be a step up from that crook Dodd. Honestly, I don't think he will even get the democratic nomination, I think Democrats are smarter than that. Dodd has more scandal than a professional wrestling show, and his isn't fake.

  • Jim_Satterfield

    I think it was Ben Smith on Politico who pointed out that one of her greatest enemies will be YouTube. Watch for the McMahons to try to get some videos taken down.

  • Leonidas

    Rob Simmons will be the Republican nominee so none of this really matters.

    What does matter is the Simmons leads in the polls, and Dodd is surrounded by scandal. That why I think the DNC will be smart enough to field someone else. Simmons has done pretty well in the past in a very democratic environment. He defeated ten-term Democratic incumbent Sam Gejdenson in 2000, he beat Joe Courtney in 2002, Jim Sullivan in 2004, and in 2006 lost to Courtney by a mere 83 votes in an environment excellect for democratic candidates

  • DLS

    “anyone would be a step up from that crook Dodd”

    Dodd (of Countrywide and other kinds of fame) lost respect at least as far back as post-1994 when he abused C-SPAN frequently, lying about “extree-mists” (with that beet face of his).