Over the past few weeks, I’ve been struck by the bizarre nature of the campaign here in Connecticut for the U.S. Senate seat soon to be vacated by Chris Dodd.
In one corner we have Leaping Linda McMahon, the former CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment who has vowed to spend up to $50 million of her own money to buy a seat in a dysfunctional and paralyzed legislative body.
In the other corner we have Cautious Dick Blumenthal, who apparently is only a fighter when instructing the lawyers on his staff at the state AG’s office to file lawsuits against everyone in sight.
On the campaign trail, the Democrat is subdued and a little out-of-sorts — traits exacerbated by the fact that he hasn’t had to run against a serious opponent in 20 years and has had consistently good press during that time. That would explain Blumy’s rustiness on the campaign trail, but how does it explain that only a few days ago, I spotted my first Blumenthal lawn sign of the season in Salisbury?
Early polls showed Blumenthal with a 32-point lead. Recently, however, Linda’s millions have pulled her to within 3 or 4 percentage points, causing the Blumenthal campaign to wonder whether they should be in full-scale panic.
But the Blumenthal campaign has picked up a shot in the arm, not by something their candidate has done, but by a gaffe committed by Linda, who said she wasn’t sure if we needed a minimum wage or not.
I think you can make a plausible case against the minimum wage, but the concept is very popular with voters who are convinced that without it, old ladies will be swinging pic axes on rock piles for a dollar a day. So Linda had better find a good way to explain that statement away.
This is going to be a difficult choice for me. McMahon has shown little interest in public service until now. The ethics of her company, which she is too ashamed to mention by name, are highly questionable. I would have preferred either of her primary opponents, especially Peter Schiff. But more than anything else, it sounds to me like McMahon is simply bored of being rich. Not very compelling stuff.
Blumenthal is a nice man who has done some good work for the people of the state. I also think some of his actions have harmed our competitiveness in attracting jobs to Connecticut. But I would have had a lot more respect for him if he had taken advantage of one of the several opportunities he had to run for governor.
Governor is a powerful job in which you actually run things and can make a huge difference in the lives of your residents. Alas, it is also a job in which you have to make unpopular decisions about what to cut and whom to reward. I think Blumy just felt a little too comfortable suing corporations and other miscreants.
Who, after all, could object to going after the bad guys? Wouldn’t it be ironic if that same reticence cost him the cushy Senate seat he has coveted all these years?