Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Linda McMahon celebrates her in win… (Jessica Hill / AP Photo )
WASHINGTON -- Linda McMahon, a former chief executive of World Wrestling Entertainment who failed in 2010 to win a Connecticut Senate seat, has won the Republican primary and will face Democratic Rep. Christopher S. Murphy in the race to replace retiring Sen. Joe Lieberman.
McMahon easily defeated former Rep. Chris Shays in the primary after spending at least $12 million, much of it from her own pocket. She spent $50 million of her personal wealth on the 2010 Senate bid and is expected to pour millions more into the race against Murphy.
The Connecticut Senate seat has been held by Democrat-turned-independent Lieberman since 1988. Never a reliable vote for either party, Lieberman infuriated liberals and conservatives alike for constantly positioning himself at the center of key issues.
If an October 2010 poll is any indication -- 66% said they would vote for someone other than Lieberman -- Connecticut voters are looking for someone who votes more consistently with one party or the other.
Lieberman’s retirement offered an opportunity for McMahon to redeem her 2010 loss and for Murphy, an up-and-comer, to improve his position in the state’s political pecking order.
Murphy defeated former Connecticut Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz in the Democratic primary.
The candidates will now square off in a race that tilts in Murphy’s favor but will be competitive.
A poll conducted in late July by the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling found Murphy with an eight-percentage-point lead over McMahon, 50% to 42%. A Quinnipiac poll conducted in late May and early June had the race even closer -- 46% to 43% in Murphy's favor.
McMahon lost her 2010 bid, despite a Republican wave of victories, after Democrats attacked her ties to the wrestling entertainment industry. That appears to be the strategy this year as well.
As McMahon was declared the winner Tuesday night, Guy Cecil, executive director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee fired off an email declaring McMahon a "greedy CEO who made millions marketing sex and violence to little kids."