Former WWE CEO Linda McMahon's sudden surge against the once-invincible Dick Blumenthal in the Connecticut Senate race has put Blumenthal, the Democratic state attorney general, on the ropes and bolstered Republican hopes of taking control of the upper chamber.
A new Quinnipiac University poll released Tuesday shows Blumenthal leads McMahon by just 3 percentage points, erasing the 41-point lead he held in January. And the reliable Cook Political Report has deemed the race up for grabs.
"She's got him in a headlock," said Scott McLean, a political scientist at Quinnipiac University.
Or to borrow another wrestling metaphor, McMahon thinks she has Blumenthal down on the canvas, ripe for a smackdown. But Blumenthal supporters are hopeful that he'll ultimately deliver the final blow.
"Dick has worked hard and no one believes he's not going to win," said Ellen Camhi, the head of the local Democratic Party in Stamford where WWE is based. "I'd be really surprised and very disappointed in Connecticut if they elect her. It just shouldn't be."
But McMahon has made the race competitive. McLean says McMahon has done a good job of gaining support among independents by attacking Blumenthal's image as a straight talker – an image that has been under assault ever since he was caught earlier this year misrepresenting his military record.
"This is a big problem," he said. "Blumenthal has the advantage with Democrats but independents are giving McMahon another look."
The Blumenthal campaign did not return numerous messages requesting an interview.
The tightening race has apparently sent a jolt through national Democrats who are suddenly pouncing on McMahon at every opportunity.
McMahon came under fire Thursday for suggesting she's open to cutting the minimum wage to help struggling businesses and saying that future increases to both the state and federal rates should be evaluated.
"We've got minimum wages in the state, we've got the minimum wages in the government and I think we ought to look at all of those issues in terms of what mandates are being placed on businesses and can they afford them," McMahon said when asked by a reporter if the current minimum wage rate should be scaled back to help employers.
McMahon later clarified her comments and said she supports keeping the minimum wage in place.
But national Democrats have seized upon McMahon's comments, noting that WWE laid off about 10 percent of its employees in 2009.
"It's not a huge surprise that multi-millionaire ex-CEO Linda McMahon is open to lowering the minimum wage," said Deirde Murphy, national press secretary for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. "After years of laying off employees while pocketing millions of dollars in profits, Linda McMahon has proven herself wrong for Connecticut's middle class families time after time."
McMahon's campaign said it's not surprised by the attacks.
"They're paying a lot more attention to the race now," McMahon campaign spokesman Shawn McCoy told FoxNews.com. "We can expect this for the next month or so – Democrats trying to pounce on any little thing she does."
McCoy said the campaign also expects wrestling to dominate the race in the final weeks.
"I think Democrats have been trying to make this race about wrestling for months now," he said. "But the fact is this race is about jobs and the economy."
Democrats say they're not worried about the race and are still confident that Blumenthal will prevail.