It was over almost before it began.
World Wrestling Entertainment Chairman and CEO Vince McMahon’s civil rights lawsuit against Connecticut’s chief election official ended Wednesday when a federal judge issued a stipulated agreement to make sure wrestling fans are able to wear their WWE apparel and merchandise to the polls.
U.S. District Court Judge Janet Bond Arterton issued an agreement Wednesday requiring Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz not to apply state election law restricting political advertising to within 75 feet of the polling places to wrestling fans.
McMahon filed the lawsuit Tuesday after Bysiewicz told the media that local election officials were expressing concerns about what to do if voters show up in WWE T-shirts or other paraphernalia. Bysiewicz’s spokesman said since the WWE is “ubiquitous” with the McMahon’s there were concerns, but that each case would be handled on an individual basis since WWE apparel doesn’t outwardly violate state election law.
Bysiewicz said she was happy with the agreement because it upholds the election law that’s already on the books. She said she never sought to disenfranchise WWE fans and never said wrestling fans couldn’t wear their WWE gear to the polls.
McMahon was pleased with the agreement too.
“I am pleased that Connecticut voters have had their freedom of expression to wear WWE merchandise and their right to vote restored,” McMahon said in an emailed statement from WWE’s Stamford headquarters.
McMahon has increasingly expressed his disapproval of the political attacks in the campaign, which at times have been aimed directly at the wrestling industry, steroids, and how the WWE classifies its wrestlers as independent contractors. McMahon also recently launched an Internet-based public relations campaign dubbed “Stand up for WWE” to encourage fans to voice support for the company. The company plans on holding a fan appreciation night in Hartford on Oct. 30, just a few days before the Nov. 2 election.
McMahon’s wife, Linda, who stepped down as CEO of WWE last September is in a hotly contested race against Attorney General Richard Blumenthal for U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd’s seat.
The most recent polls on the race have McMahon trailing Blumenthal by about 12 points, but McMahon has spared no expense in the race having already spent close to $42 million of her own money.