McMahon has yet to target Shays with negative ads, and Shays maintains that she won't do so out of fear of driving her own already high negatives -- the Quinnipiac poll showed 40 percent viewed her favorably to 44 percent unfavorably -- even higher.
"To me, the story is, she is simply unelectable," he says.
Shays readily admitted that fundraising has been difficult so far -- he set a goal of $1 million by the end of 2011 and fell short. He says he'll need between $2 million - $4 million to win the primary. He blamed the difficulty in part on McMahon's big 2010 loss, saying that it made the state look like a bad investment for Republicans.
"We have unbelievable, serious problems," said Shays on why he's in the race. "I don't think Chris will address them and I don't think Linda McMahon knows how to address them."
Shays estimated that he has approximately 30 percent support to McMahon's 40 percent among the town committees heading into the pre-primary Republican convention.
"Do I think that she can buy some of the delegates?" said Shays. "She did last time and she'll do it this time."
Regardless, Shays is looking ahead to the August Republican primary.
"I know not to put my faith on the convention, because there are a hundred ways that she can influence votes. Some legitimately and some not," he said. "I'm going to call her on anything I see that I think is inappropriate, and certainly illegal."