Politics

Republicans Wage a Smackdown for Dodd's Senate Seat

In the race for the U.S. Senate seat in Connecticut left open by Democrat Chris Dodd's decision to retire rather than face a costly and likely defeat, the Republican nomination fight may look more like a professional wrestling match.

In one corner is former Republican Rep. Rob Simmons, whose campaign raised $631,000 in the final three months of last year, according to fundraising numbers released to Fox News Thursday.

In the other corner of the GOP ring is Linda McMahon, the former CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment, whose campaign raised only $6,676 in the same time period -- a fraction of what Simmons' campaign raked in. 

A recent Quinnipiac University poll showed Simmons leading McMahon by 10 points.

"With the support of over 12,000 donors contributing a record-breaking total of $2.3 million in just nine months, Rob Simmons' fundraising success is unparalleled for a Republican Senate candidate in Connecticut, and is similar to other leading Senate candidates in the region such as New Hampshire's Kelly Ayotte," said Simmons campaign manager Jim Barnett.

But McMahon plans a political pile driver with her personal pocketbook.

McMahon campaign officials confirm reports that McMahon is willing to spend up to $50 million of her own money.

"She's prepared to spend what it takes to win," one campaign official said.

McMahon has already spent $5 million dollars of her own money since formally announcing her run in September. But despite pouring $3 million into media advertising -- mostly television ads -- she's still trailing Simmons by 10 percentage points, according to a recent Quinnipiac University poll.

In the poll, released January 14, Simmons has 37 percent of the vote compared to McMahon's 27 percent. 

"Having lived a life of service and sacrifice on behalf of America, Rob does not have tens of millions of dollars of his own money to spend on a political campaign, but his fundraising success and his big primary lead in all independent polling despite millions of dollars in uncontested advertising spending by his opponent demonstrates that he will have all the money he needs to fight and win the Republican nomination," Barnett said.

The winner of this brawl gets the treat of taking on Democrat Richard Blumenthal, Connecticut's attorney general for nearly 20 years and widely considered the most popular politician in the state.

In the same Quinnipiac poll, Bumenthal was leading both candidates by nearly 40 percentage points.

Still, in the wake of Scott Brown's shocking victory in Massachusetts this month, Republican insiders are hopeful, calling Blumenthal "a career politician who hasn't had a tough race on his hands in a very long time and who also has never created a job in his life"

Jake Gibson is a producer working at the Fox News Washington bureau who covers politics, law enforcement and intelligence issues.