Public Office: None
Most Recent Position: Former chief executive officer, World Wrestling Entertainment; former member of State Board of Education
Background: Linda McMahon is promising to spend $50 million of her own money on her first run for elective office. With heavy television advertising, she bought name-recognition and won the endorsement of the Republican State Convention in May over a former three-term congressman and decorated Vietnam veteran, Rob Simmons.
McMahon’s fortune comes from World Wrestling Entertainment, the Stamford-based company that oversees an empire based on scripted wrestling melodrama, whose racy story lines have involved McMahon, her husband, Vince McMahon, and their two children, Shane and Stephanie. As a result, McMahon is the only U.S. Senate candidate featured in You Tube clips of her driving a knee into a man’s crotch or slapping her daughter.
Charges that her wrestlers used steroids, that she did not provide them with health insurance and of other excesses at WWE gained little traction in the three-way primary against Simmons and petitioning candidate Peter Schiff. McMahon won with 49 percent of the vote.
With that outcome in little doubt months before the primary, McMahon began aiming her sights at the Democratic nominee, state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal. Not long after a New York Times report that he had on occasion misstated his Vietnam-era service as a Marine reservist McMahon began blasting him on TV and other advertising.
McMahon’s husband, Vince McMahon, is the company chairman and a regular performer. They met in their native North Carolina when she was 13 and he was 16. Their daughter Stephanie is married to a WWE wrestler, Triple H, a bit of storyline that turned real. And their son, Shane, also has been a WWE executive and wrestler.
On TV, Vince McMahon plays the heavy, still thickly muscled at 64, the result of obsessive workouts and a protein-rich diet, according to his wife. In the real world, he was tried and acquitted in federal court in New York in the 1994 on charges that he distributed steroids to his wrestlers.
The company also was investigated by the U.S. House of Representative’s Oversight and Government Reform Committee in 2007, where both McMahons testified on WWE’s drug policy. However, the investigation was later abandoned. On MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” in February, McMahon wasn’t rattled by one questioner’s accusation that she and her husband profit “off the blood of people who destroyed themselves for a living for you.”
Her only previous involvement with public office came with her appointment to the State Board of Education by Gov. M. Jodi Rell.
Late last spring or early summer, McMahon said, she suddenly was inspired to think about running for the U.S. Senate seat held by Christopher Dodd, whom she recognized as a man on the ropes. Deficit spending was killing the economy, she said.
McMahon acknowledged she is no policy wonk, nor is she steeped in the history of the U.S. Senate. Her platform is simple: She opposes health-care reform as too expensive, favors tax credits to help business and insists that the federal government immediately cease deficit spending, though she refuses to say how that might be accomplished.
On her web site, her major idea about reforming government is: “Lawmakers have to read the bills before they vote on them.” Congress should cease voting on complicated legislation, such as the Wall Street bailout, without it first being posted online for public review, she said.
She describes herself as pro-choice on abortion and favors the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, the military’s policy of expelling openly gay members of the armed forces.
Her campaign has been a testament to discipline, control and limited media access. McMahon has yet to hold a single wide-ranging press conference, submitting instead to one-on-one interviews. That, coupled with relentless advertising, by Aug. 4 had already cut into the strong lead once held by Blumenthal, according to polling by Quinnipiac University, though that same poll showed her unfavorable ratings remained a staggeringly high 37 percent.
Education: B.A., East Carolina University
Personal: McMahon, 61, is married to Vince McMahon. They are the parents of two adult children. They live in Greenwich.