Linda McMahon benefits from political silly season in Connecticut

It's less than two weeks since Linda McMahon won the Connecticut Republican Party's senate primary and already she's started throwing the dirt at her Democrat opponent Chris Murphy.

Her first TV advertisement since officially obtaining the nomination, rather than focusing on her positive message of job creation, concentrated instead on Murphy's record of absenteeism from the Congressional financial crisis hearings in 2007-2008:

If you skipped 80% of your meetings for your job, would you get a promotion? During America's financial crisis Chris Murphy served on two committees trying to avoid a financial meltdown, but Murphy skipped nearly 80% of those urgent hearings. Maybe Chris was at the plush secret congressional health club which you pay for. Or maybe Murphy skipped work to raise money to keep his $170,000 a year job. But Chris Murphy didn't show up for the job you paid him to do.

Of course, in an ordinary job, if you had next to no experience, then you wouldn't get immediately promoted to one of the most powerful positions in the company, which is the political equivalent of what Linda is trying to do. We just have to take it on trust that Linda won't be equally as picky about the meetings she would choose to attend as a Senator, given that she has no record to compare to Murphy's.

Murphy responded, like most politicians sadly do, by avoiding the questions posed by Linda's ad, emphasising his voting record and trying to steal Linda's job plan thunder:

Linda McMahon will do and say anything to get ahead. Like running false negative ads. My voting record is 97%. I'm focused on creating jobs. Like when I convinced Congress to invest in cleaning up this industrial site, putting 75 people to work. Next, companies here will expand and attract hundreds more Connecticut jobs. I'm Chris Murphy and I approve this message, because that's not just a plan, that's real.

Unsurprisingly, Linda's campaign manager, Corey Bliss, quickly sent out an email to her supporters to ridicule Murphy for "touting a $15 million earmark that created 75 jobs" at "a staggering $200,000" each, because job creation in Republican eyes is only good when it comes from the private sector or benefits them politically.

Which was a reckless move, as according to Don Michak of the Journal Inquirer, WWE, while Linda McMahon was still its CEO, took advantage of the same tax subsidies for job creation in their movie division that she was bashing Murphy for:

McMahon was asked how her campaign could attack Murphy when WWE has said it created 52 jobs with $10.4 million in state tax credits it collected for work done during her tenure as its chief executive officer. That also amounted to an expenditure by taxpayers of $200,000 per job.

Linda's feeble answer was that "I'm not attacking that in any way". I guess she's not personally responsible for what her campaign manager says on her behalf.

So with that line of attack thwarted, Linda continued to aggressively go after Murphy's missed committee meetings:

During the financial crisis Chris Murphy skipped nearly 80% of his committee hearings. In his ad Murphy says McMahon is wrong, but in their fact check the Courant says this about Linda's ad quote "the main assertion here is on target. As such, we rate this ad generally accurate.". Murphy didn't show up nearly 80% of the time and you pay him $170,000 a year. Check the facts: Chris Murphy isn't being honest with you.

Obviously Linda feels she's onto a winner here with part of the local media backing her up. Indeed, a poll conducted by Rasmussen Reports after the ads had aired, showed Linda leading the race 49%-46%, though it's very early days yet, so take it with a pinch of salt, but it may mean that the election will be a lot closer than previously thought.

However, Rob Simmons, who Linda defeated in the 2010 Republican senate primary and obviously has no respect for her as a politician, broke party ranks to defend Murphy from what he felt was a misleading characterisation of being lazy:

But Simmons said there are a few reasons why lawmakers would not attend hearings. For one thing, they sit on a number of committees and subcommittees, he said. There are times when committees and subcommittees meet at the same time, forcing legislators to either choose one and skip the other or try to split his or her time between the groups, Simmons said....

Simmons said he felt that being present for a vote was more important than attending hearings, which are designed to give lawmakers an opportunity to learn about issues and ask questions of experts.

"When someone comes to testify, unless it's really high profile, attendance is not high," Simmons said.

Part of the reason for that is some lawmakers consider themselves well-versed on certain issues.

Simmons begrudgingly supported her in 2010, but it doesn't look like he'll do so again in 2012, which may prove problematic for the McMahon campaign.

With Linda's slacker smears gaining traction and Murphy being down in the polls already, he's already resorted to attacking her WWE record:

As CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment Linda McMahon had a plan. Shift profits overseas to avoid U.S. taxes. Deny her employees healthcare and disability [benefits] to increase her profits. Now McMahon has another plan: tax cuts for the wealthy, including a $7 million tax cut for herself. McMahon's plan for the middle class: cuts to medicare and education. Linda McMahon: always for her, never for us.

Expect more such adverts as the race heats up, which will probably be effective in redefining her as a rich but empty-headed pornographer posing as a kindly grandmother to quote Chris Powell.

Though hopefully he isn't stupid enough to continue airing those ads during Monday Night Raw in Connecticut, where they will hit the demographic that is least likely to buy into his anti-WWE rhetoric. WWE was already crowing about this development in their own press release to the Connecticut media last Tuesday, not to help Linda McMahon of course, whose campaign is completely uncoordinated with WWE, despite her husband owning the company:

It is apparent that the same people who have consistently denigrated and mischaracterized the WWE and our family friendly environment for political gain have officially changed their point of view about our content.

For the second week in a row, Mr. Murphy's campaign continues to run advertising in our programming with his new ad airing yesterday at 10:30 p.m. on USA during ‘Monday Night Raw'. While past political rhetoric has been unjust, it pleases us to know that Mr. Murphy recognizes that WWE's TV programming is a highly effective way to reach families and voters in Connecticut.

Actually, most of the remarks criticising their past product for being overly violent and sexualised has come from the Connecticut media, not Murphy's campaign, which has just gotten started, but I suppose you can't let the facts get in the way of political point scoring. A lesson that will surely be repeated by all three sides involved in this election in the next three months.

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