Linda McMahon campaigns for the Senate in 2010. (Cloe Poisson / Hartford…)
Linda McMahon, the former professional-wrestling executive who spent about $50 million -- much of it her own money -- in an unsuccessful bid to become a U.S. senator from Connecticut, is ahead of her challenger for the GOP nod to run again, but is behind the leading Democrats in the race, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released on Friday.
McMahon leads former Rep. Christopher Shays, 50% to 35%, in the race for the Republican nomination. Neither has formally entered the race, but they have begun making the usual preliminary explorations among party leaders and possible campaign workers.
McMahon ran a spirited campaign in 2010, coming close in several polls before falling back and losing to Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal.
“In the Republican primary, ... McMahon's name recognition advantage over [Shays] helps give her an early 15-point lead -- before she turns on the vaunted McMahon money machine,” said Douglas Schwartz, Quinnipiac University poll director.
Though she is running strongly against Shays, McMahon is trailing the leading Democrats in the contest, Rep. Chris Murphy and former Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz, according to the same poll. Murphy leads 49% to 38%, while Bysiewicz has a 46%-to-38% lead.
Murphy leads Bysiewicz in the race for the Democratic nod, 36% to 26%, according to the poll.
The seat is currently held by Sen. Joe Lieberman, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats. He has announced that he will not seek a fifth term.
The results were based on telephone interviews with 1,230 registered voters from Sept. 8 to Sept. 13. The margin of error for Republicans is plus or minus 5.4 percentage points, and for Democrats, 4.6 percentage points.