Washington — There are so many people on Linda McMahon’s campaign payroll that its spokesman, Todd Abrajano, wouldn’t venture a guess at the number.
“Honestly, I don’t know,” he said.
The latest filings with the Federal Election Commission show that McMahon, the Republican candidate for the state’s U.S. Senate seat, has spent more than $28 million building a huge, sophisticated campaign structure, in addition to flooding the airwaves with a barrage of ads. Most of that money has come from her own pocket.
Her FEC reports show that she’s used those funds to hire more than 200 people who work out of 13 campaign offices across the state. With headquarters in North Haven, she has 12 field offices, from Danbury to Windham to East Lyme.
Dozens of campaign workers receive modest pay, sometimes as little as $100 or $200 for what Abrajano said is a bimonthly pay period. Others were paid more, from $400 to $600.
Many of these workers were reimbursed for their mileage, the FEC reports show, indicating they may travel to campaign events or are involved in canvassing efforts.
Abrejano said some of these campaign workers are paid interns, but he would not discuss the status of the campaign’s workers — or their duties.
McMahon’s rival for the retiring Joseph Lieberman’s seat, Rep. Chris Murphy, D-5th District, has raised about $8.2 million — none from his own pocket — and spent about $6 million. That means McMahon has outspent Murphy nearly 5 to 1 in one of the most competitive and closely watched Senate races in the nation this year.
According to the latest FEC reports, the core of Murphy’s campaign comprises about 20 staff members. But the campaign has also paid about 85 others modest salaries, sometimes as low as $80, for its get-out-the-vote efforts. It declined to discuss its hires.
Murphy’s campaign is also receiving staffing help — and advice on strategy — from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.
McMahon has spent millions of dollars producing and airing her television commercials and mailing out campaign literature. She has also spent heavily on campaign consultants, public relation experts and strategists.
They include a top GOP strategist, Chris LaCivita; Bentley Elliott, a former speechwriter for President Reagan; Hartford-based public relations firm Sullivan& LaShane; and smaller firms like Ethnic Marketing Solutions, a Hartford consulting firm the campaign is using to reach out to minority voters.
Besides the paid consultants and campaign workers, McMahon’s campaign says it has thousands of volunteers.
But McMahon’s campaign declined to say how many campaign workers are involved in last-minute canvassing and get-out-the-vote efforts.
“I don’t believe we need to break that down in the FEC regulations,” Abrajano said. “We are reporting whatever we need to according to the law.”
While McMahon has outraised and outspent her rival, Murphy is receiving help from his national party and outside groups that have spent nearly $5 million on ads attacking McMahon.
With less than three weeks to go until Election Day, McMahon is likely to continue to loan her campaign more money to keep the elaborate machine running, said Jennifer Duffy, Senate analyst for the Cook Political Report.
“Since McMahon has come this far and the race is winnable, I suspect that she will spend what it takes to do what the campaign feels needs to be done over the next 17 days,” Duffy said.
McMahon spent $50 million in her unsuccessful bid for the Senate against Democrat Richard Blumenthal two years ago.