Unemployment is at 9 percent, the national debt is continuing to grow, and across the nation people are cutting their own spending to make ends meet. Republican Linda McMahon says she is confident she has the skills to help turn it around.
The former CEO of World Wresting Entertainment announced her run for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Joseph Lieberman at Coil Pro in Southington Tuesday morning, drawing attention from across the state. McMahon said she would remain focused on improving the economy, creating jobs and helping restore the American dream.
“We were looking back two years ago at a terrible recession. Now we’re looking ahead to the prospect of another,” the longtime Connecticut businesswoman said. “In two years, we’ve seen a massive government stimulus fail, at the cost of nearly a trillion dollars. We’ve gone from companies ‘too big to fail’ to a government that, well, spends way too much.”
“It is clear to most everyone now, regardless of which political party you belong to, that we’re going down the wrong economic track and we’d better get off in a hurry,” she said.
After losing the state's other Senate seat to former Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal in 2010, the wrestling mogul has remained out of the public eye until recently. With the announcement Tuesday, however, McMahon has thrust herself back into the spotlight — and she said she is confident that her experience during her previous campaign and knowledge in running a business will help lead her to the office and beyond.
Standing before a crowd of media personalities, business owners, state and local politicians, and many others, she promised “a clean campaign” that will focus on the development of comprehensive jobs plans, debt reduction and lower taxes as she attempts to revive the American Dream.
Although many businesses are struggling, McMahon’s Deputy Communications Director Kate Duffy said that the Republican candidate chose to make her announcement at , because it’s an example of the American Dream still alive and well.
“This was a business she visited two years ago, and it made an impression on her,” Duffy said. “Coil Pro is the definition of an American success story. This company has grown through hard work, smart business practices and an ability to adjust to a changing climate. It’s an example of what she hopes to do on a government level.”
Coil Pro founder Jeffrey Gagnon, who was born and raised in Southington, said he was able to build his business from the ground up. Starting as a one-man show in 1997, he and his wife Maureen have had to tighten strings at times to expand.
Gagnon said he believes McMahon is the candidate with the ability to do the same at the federal level.
“I believe she will compromise, that she will bring her own ideas and work well with others in Congress to take action and get the job done,” Gagnon said. “I am a Republican, but I am an American first, and she is a person who wants to work for what’s right and what America needs.”
Not everyone believes that McMahon will be able to reduce spending, however. Democratic opponents have questioned McMahon’s own spending — she had the highest spending total of any Congressional candidate in 2010.
During the 2010 campaign, Democratic opponents questioned McMahon's background as CEO of the WWE and pointed to massive layoffs the company made while she and her husband, Vince McMahon, received a pay raise.
She has also received criticism from some within her own party and will have the challenge of proving herself over Republican candidates including former U.S. Rep. Christopher Shays, as well as potential Republican opponents such as former Vernon Mayor Jason McCoy, Brian Cahill of Hartford, former comptroller general David Walker and former Lt. Gov. Michael Fedele.
McMahon, however, has countered these accusations by saying that her company expanded on more than one occasion and has added far more jobs than it has eliminated, both before and after those one-time cuts.
Furthermore, the McMahon camp said Tuesday that the ultimate goal is to get the country back on track and she will remain focused on earning votes through a clean, detailed campaign that will unveil plans rather than accusations.
State Rep. Rob Sampson, R-Southington and Wolcott, said he believes she is the right candidate not just for the party but for America as a whole as the country tries to recover from hard times.
“The economy is the key aspect of all this,” Sampson said. “She is a smart business woman who has had success in running a global entity. She knows through experience how to grow the economy and those are the same skills needed to grow our economy again.”
McMahon leads early polls within the Republican party, according to a recent finding by pollsters at Quinnipiac University in Hamden, but still has work to come out on top over Democratic candidates that could include U.S. Rep. Christopher Murphy and former Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz.
“In the months ahead, I must earn your vote,” McMahon said. “We can and we will fix this economy. I'm going to take my case to every part of the state. I’ll run a race that is candid, honest and fair. I will never forget that it is people like Jeff and Maureen at Coil Pro who make America great, and I promise to never stop working for them or our great state.”