SOUTHINGTON, Conn. - Former wrestling executive Linda McMahon announced Tuesday she is making a second run for a Connecticut U.S. Senate seat, telling supporters that the nation's economy has not improved since her 2010 campaign and she believes Washington needs her business experience.
This time, the Republican is hoping to fill the seat being vacated by the retiring Sen. Joe Lieberman, an independent. While it's a different race, McMahon's message was familiar as she again touted herself as "a proven job creator" who knows how to help get the nation back to work.
"There is no reason why the largest, richest economy cannot regain its strength and create jobs for every woman and man who wants to work," said the former chief executive of WWE, formerly known as World Wrestling Entertainment. She accused "our own government" of trying to lower Americans' expectations about the faltering economy.
"We've been told that 9 percent unemployment is the best this country can do for months or even years to come. ... We're not buying into that defeatist attitude," she said.
McMahon, 62, made her announcement at a Southington business, Coil Pro, which makes custom-built coil processing machines. She has been hinting for months that she would likely run for a second time, appearing at numerous public events and working with consultants.
In 2010, she ran against Democratic Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, but lost after spending about $50 million of her own money on her primary and general election campaigns. It marked the largest amount of spending by a political candidate in Connecticut history. While McMahon inundated voters with television ads and political mailings, Blumenthal was able to win the seat - formerly held by Democratic Sen. Christopher Dodd, who retired - by more than 10 percentage points.
Chris Healy, the former state Republican Party chairman, said he believes McMahon's message of building a successful company with her husband, Vince McMahon, will resonate with voters this time around.
"People are scared, really frightened about their futures, whether it's health care, whether it's education, whether it's just holding onto the job they have," he said. "So, Linda has built an immense economic record in the private sector, she's been a very generous person in her private life," Healy said.
As they did last year, Democrats criticized McMahon's ties to WWE and what they said was her attempt to buy the Senate seat.
"Even last year, when voters everywhere were electing Republicans, Connecticut voters said they didn't need a greedy CEO like McMahon who made her fortune by putting her own profits before the health and safety of her workers and marketing sex and violence to children," Matt Canter, spokesman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said in a statement. "Nothing has changed about McMahon since voters resoundingly rejected her candidacy last year and she shouldn't be surprised when it happens again this time around."
As in 2010, McMahon is facing the prospect of a Republican primary. Former U.S. Rep. Christopher Shays is expected to formally announce his candidacy early next month. Hartford attorney Brian K. Hill and Vernon Mayor Jason McCoy have already jumped in the race for the GOP nomination. Former U.S. Comptroller General David Walker has also been contemplating a run.
On the Democratic side, U.S. Rep. Christopher Murphy, former Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz and state Rep. William Tong have already begun their campaigns for their party's nomination next year.