Wrestling executive Linda McMahon clinched the Republican primary race for U.S. Senate shortly before 10 p.m. Tuesday night after U.S. Rep. Rob Simmons conceded following a late campaign effort.
Simmons lost the Republican convention bid to McMahon in May and as a result, stopped campaigning. The McMahon campaign focused doggedly on Democratic candidate Attorney General Richard Blumenthal’s run for U.S. Senate. Simmons later rejoined the race in a move the McMahon campaign called “erratic.”
McMahon spent over $26 million on her campaign so far and has pledged to spend up to $50 million to win the U.S. Senate seat.
With 75 percent of precincts reporting voting results, she secured 49 percent of the vote compared to Simmons, who earned 29 percent.
McMahon entered the ballroom of the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Cromwell to chants of her name and a rousing rendition of “Eye of the Tiger.”
“Tonight, I’m humbled to have earned your support,” she said.
She thanked her rivals Simmons and Weston money manager Peter Schiff.
“At the end of the day, we’re all part of the Republican family,” she said. “But we all know families don’t always get along or agree.”
McMahon’s parents, her campaign manager David Cappiello, Sen. Leonard Fasano, R-East Haven, and the WWE wrestler Paul Levesque, known as “Triple H,” joined her on stage.
“This is a three-round smackdown,” Fasano said. “First it was the nomination, now the primary, and soon the election.”
“We don’t want another career politician,” he said. “We’ve already seen what happens when you do that.”
McMahon promised to visit more cities and meet more Connecticut residents before the election in November.
“I want to hear about your concerns firsthand,” she said.
She lauded not bigger, but smaller government, less spending and lower taxes as the crowd cheered on.
“We’re going to send a senator to Washington who understands it,” she said. “For the first time in decades, we’re going to send a Republican senator.”
Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Robert Menendez released a statement focusing on the more controversial aspects of her business shortly after McMahon’s win.
“Connecticut Republicans today nominated a corporate CEO of WWE, who under her watch violence was peddled to kids, steroid abuse was rampant, yet she made her millions,” he wrote. “In November, Connecticut voters will face a choice between a corporate CEO who looked out for herself, and a crusading Attorney General who has spent his career looking out for them.”
Recent accusations regarding steroids and questionable stories over the wrestling world took their toll on the McMahon campaign, but apparently not enough to stop McMahon from the win. She joined ABC’s “Frontline” Monday night and her husband, Vince McMahon, recently conducted an interview with the AP to defend the WWE’s practices.
Blumenthal plans to hit the road tomorrow in an aggressive start to his campaign just one day after the primary election. He will visit Stamford, Hamden, East Hartford, Middletown and Milford for meet and greets with Connecticut residents.