Former wrestling executive Linda McMahon was given a second chance Tuesday by Connecticut Republicans to try and win an open U.S. Senate seat, easily besting veteran former U.S. Rep. Christopher Shays in a Republican primary.
As in 2010, McMahon will face a well-known figure in Democratic politics -- U.S. Rep. Chris Murphy.
Murphy, 39, is a three-term 5th Congressional District representative and former state legislator. He defeated veteran Democratic politician and former Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz in the Democratic primary.
The election marks the second time in two years that Connecticut has an open seat for the U.S. Senate. Independent Sen. Joe Lieberman is retiring at the end of the year. In 2010, former Democratic Sen. Christopher Dodd decided not to run for re-election.
McMahon, 63, was a political unknown back two years ago and spent about $50 million of her own money, only to be defeated by Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal by double digits. This time around, she focused on her grassroots operation, building a network with visits to people's living rooms and tours of small businesses.
She also scaled back her contributing or loaning her campaign -- about $15.7 million so far -- according to federal records. The figure dwarfs how much Shays, a latecomer to the primary race, was able to raise. It also dwarfs how much Murphy has raised so far.
"I'm going to be outspent five- or ten-to-one in this election," Murphy said Tuesday. "But Dick Blumenthal was right two years ago. Connecticut voters want an election, not an auction. And I just fundamentally don't believe that Linda McMahon can paper over her record as CEO of the WWE with a lot of money."
As she did in 2010, McMahon has received criticism for the violent nature of WWE's programming over the years, as well as the company's treatment of its wrestlers. McMahon has defended the company and contends that voters care more about issues such as the economy and creating more jobs.
In the final weeks of the primary campaign, she focused more on Murphy than Shays. In an usual move, she ran a TV ad criticizing Murphy for his congressional record and she has repeatedly said he has not produced a jobs plan. Murphy contends he already announced a jobs plan that continues to evolve as he speaks to more people across Connecticut.