McMahon in Connecticut: She's Baaaaaack!
Linda McMahon, the tenacious and successful business executive, who two years ago beat the Republican establishment in the U.S. Senate primary in Connecticut, is shaping up to be a nightmare for Connecticut Democrats. The candidate for U.S. Senate threatens an upset of their anti-business, redistributionist, and nanny-state agenda in a state they have taken for granted.
In Connecticut, as in neighboring Massachusetts and New York, it's long been what the Democrats want, the Democrats get. But polls show that McMahon has been "unexpectedly" pulling ahead -- mainstream media-speak for "we sure hate to report this, but integrity demands an occasional stab at the truth"-- and offer a ghostly glimpse of the future in the national contest between another successful business executive -- Mitt Romney -- and a president who would feel right at home in this New England state's Democrat establishment.
Indeed: she's baaaaack. That's an adaptation of the line from Poltergeist II: The Other Side, the second in the classic horror film series that featured the chilling catchphrase "They're back." And for the Connecticut political establishment -- think Chicago machine with a hint of clam chowder (regional favorite) -- life appears to be imitating cinema art as the former chief executive officer of $1.2-billion entertainment juggernaut World Wrestling Entertainment is poised to do what seems to media and political elites only supernaturally possible, if at all: beat a Democrat in a deep, deep, deep blue state.
Behind in double-digits two months ago, McMahon is quietly making a race out of it for the seat of retiring U.S. Senator Joseph Lieberman (the independent pushed out of the party by the state's increasingly radical Democrat establishment), with the Real Clear Politics poll average showing her about even. And, when you take out of the average the really-seriously-in-the-tank-for-Democrats pollster PPP and the poll of New York Times wannabe Hartford Courant, Linda -- as she prefers to be called -- is up by three points.
How did this happen? After all, the New York Times and its columnists led the state's newspapers and broadcasters in writing Linda's epitaph two years ago after she lost a U.S. Senate bid to a media and inside-the-Beltway progressive favorite. Speaking of cinema and the supernatural: they thought they had driven a stake through her heart, having done in that campaign two years ago what they're doing to Mitt Romney now. Scarcely a day went by in which a mainstream media outlet did not declare Linda's campaign dead, her presence an insult to professional politicians (in Connecticut as in the rest of the country, defined as those under indictment or about to be), her business acumen irrelevant to the real business of government (redistribution of individual wealth), and her insistence on both individual and government responsibility hopelessly out of touch. Sure, she beat the Republican establishment to take the nomination, but she had met her match in an insider-anointed Senate candidate who had spent his entire adult life on the public payroll, had an elite education, spouted leftist generalities, and was a member in good standing of a major Democrat constituency...the morally challenged.
But Linda learned. Media approval -- Fugedaboutit! The New York Times can't be reasoned with, the state newspapers were and remain staffed by political commentators drawn from the Democrat ranks, and the state's broadcasters take their cue from the neighboring New York and Boston media. Linda McMahon, she of business experience, wrestling, money earned rather than acquired the preferred way through taxpayers -- how frightfully un-PBS, how tawdry, how...how...how commercial! No, to Linda McMahon, caviar is just fish eggs, fall weekends a good time to grill ("I love barbeque," she says), and a Yale University (the cultural center of the state's Democrats) lecture on the transgender roots of the working class a great reason to be somewhere else. In Connecticut, where New York City's elite goes for relief from nanny Mayor Michael Bloomberg's cascade of regulation, disdain is the best McMahon can hope for from a ruling class that regards all things Linda as the reincarnation of 19th-century Connecticut huckster P.T. Barnum. She doesn't fit the traditional political mold...and therefore must be innately and "brazenly dishonest," as the Daily Kos puts it.
And so everyone who is anyone knows, absolutely knows that the Democrat she's running against, Washington and Connecticut insider U.S. Rep. Christopher Murphy, is infinitely more qualified for the job. He's a protégé of former U.S. Senator Chris Dodd, whose career the New York Post described as "a cavalcade of scandal." Murphy has been accused of following in the footsteps of his mentor, having allegedly accepted a Dodd-like special mortgage deal in return for his vote for TARP money. And he's a lawyer, Oxford-educated (the one in England, not the small town in Connecticut), and voted with friend Nancy Pelosi 98 percent of the time. Hint of scandal, elite schools, powerful Washington buddies, lawyer -- does it get any better than that?
The problem is, the polls are showing that the support of everyone who is anyone is not enough to overcome the growing conviction of the anyones who are everyone that Democrats have made a train wreck of the state's economy. Employers are fleeing a tsunami of Barack-like regulation emanating from the state's capital, while residents are running for the exits in a state that ranks third nationally in taxing property. In the face of this, McMahon is simply doing what she now does best: treating voters as adults with hopes and aspirations, who recognize that voracious politicians, government debt, and out-of-control regulation have become our greatest obstacle to opportunity. Her energetic crisscrossing of the state shows a low-key, serious candidate with a pro-business slant who simply doesn't care what the insiders think of her or her campaign.
She's toast, she's already lost, goes the conventional Connecticut/Democrat wisdom in a state owned-and-operated by unions, mainstream New York media, and the party of Barack Obama (The One beat McCain by 23 points here).
But those darned voters. They just won't cooperate. And maybe there's a lesson here -- that no election is lost just because the New York Times, the mainstream media, and the political and cultural elites say it's lost.
And maybe, just maybe, as Connecticut goes, so goes the nation. Good news for Linda and, perhaps, good news for Mitt. Because...she's baaaaack!
Stuart Schwartz, a former media and retail executive, is on the faculty of the School of Communication at Liberty University. He is a frequent contributor to American Thinker.