McMahon Expected To Land Knockout Blow Against Shays
When he entered the Connecticut Senate race, it looked like former Rep. Chris Shays would be able to give Linda McMahon a run for her money. McMahon, after all, had spent $50 million of her own money for her 2010 campaign -- and lost decisively in a GOP wave election.
But heading into Tuesday's primary, she's the heavy favorite to again be the Republican nominee in the Nutmeg State. On the Democratic side, Rep. Chris Murphy holds a lead in his primary contest with former Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz, and is expected to be the nominee. Bysiewicz simply never caught fire against the establishment-favored Murphy: He has out-raised and out-polled her by significant margins throughout the campaign, and she never really registered as a serious threat to his frontrunner status.
In March, it seemed like Shays might register as a threat to McMahon. A Quinnipiac poll showed him to be a much better general election candidate than his opponent. Shays tied Murphy or Bysiewicz in potential matchups, while McMahon lagged both by double digits. But McMahon was well ahead of Shays in primary matchups, and he has proved unable to turn an electability argument into gains against the 2010 nominee.
One reason? Money, both hers and his lack of money. Shays never managed to raise the necessary funds to go on television and raise his profile. As an outspoken campaign finance reformer when in Congress, he didn't have my obvious fundraising avenues. And his moderate record isn't an asset when it comes to raising money from ideological allies. Meanwhile, McMahon hasn't self-funded at the level of her 2010 run yet, but she has dumped $12.4 million into her campaign already this cycle.
Though Shays didn't go after McMahon on television, he has not minced words when discussing his opponent -- and there is no love lost between the two candidates. Shays has said he wouldn't support her if she won the primary, and told the New Haven Register, "I have never run against an opponent that I have respected less -- ever -- and there are a lot of candidates I have run against."
The former World Wrestling Entertainment CEO has tried to soften her image this time around, talking extensively to women and emphasizing her humble roots. She has also made an attempt at a "grassroots" campaign -- and though she's raised little money in addition to her contributions, last time she didn't make the same effort at outreach.