While the debate rages on between seven to twelve-year-old nationwide (and sadly, some much, much older) as to whether or not wrestling (the spandex-wearing, jump-off-the-top-of-the-ropes, incoherent-monologue-filled kind) is "real," it's very possible that something authentic just might be emerging from the business that frequently features baseball great Pete Rose in a chicken suit or Mike Tyson...well, just being Mike Tyson. I'm flabbergasted that I'd ever say this, but it sort of, kind of, just maybe looks like WWE chief executive Linda McMahon, who today declared her candidacy for the Senate in Connecticut, has a serious campaign on her hands.
While her on-screen appearances appeal to a different demographic than the voting crowd she'll likely court, McMahon isn't necessarily a stranger to public policy. In January of 2009, she was appointed to the state board of education by Governor Jodi Rell. She and her husband- WWE owner Vince McMahon have long been patrons to the national Republican party, and every election cycle use their wrestling events to spur voters to the polls ("Smackdown the Vote"...seriously).
A few months back, we ran a story on the tendency of people in the "sports entertainment" business to trend toward the right when it comes to politics. But while the McMahon family has never been mistaken for liberal, Linda's campaign contributions indicate that she is decidedly moderate. In addition to GOP contributions, she's provided campaign funds to Independent Democrat Joe Lieberman, and in 2008 to then-Congressman (now White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel). She's also donated heavily to Republican Majority for Choice, a political action committee aimed at putting pro-choice Republicans in office.
But on her campaign site, McMahon brushes off the donations to Democrats. "Although I’ve given more to Republican candidates than to Democrats, as the CEO and the public face of WWE, my contributions were consistent with the fact that WWE, like most businesses, is nonpartisan. Make no mistake: I’m a Republican."
Still, let's keep expectations realistically low. Even if she were running unopposed for the nomination, she comes from a businss that many Americans- probably a good number of them in Connecticut- see as one step below Hollywood and only a small step above something worse when it comes to the impact it has on society in general. Plus, she does have a real opponent in Rob Simmons, the former congressman who is polling exceptionally well and raising large funds. But McMahon does have a few huge things going to her advantage. There are hundreds of thousands of WWE fans who are willing to spend hundreds, even thousands of dollars per year on WWE events, pay-per-view shows, and products. There are a good number of them that- while having no vested interest in politics- would be more than willing to donate a few bucks. After all, Linda is almost always a crowd-favorite protagonist against her villain-husband, Vince. Again, people actually argue over whether or not wrestling is real.
But the other aspect is that McMahon has a lot of her own money. Depending on how much she's willing to funnel into her campaign, she could cause a headache for Simmons if she starts to gain a little traction. Simmons is already fighting off Sam Caliguiri, but a well-funded opponent would certainly spice things up.
if the impossible happens, and McMahon were to wreak enough havoc (this is sounding like a WWE monologue already) in the primary to squeak through with the nomination, she'd face an incumbent Chris Dodd in the fight of his political career.
It's too tempting to say that this is really going to be a "Royal Rumble." Or to liken hearing the news of McMahon's candidacy to getting hit in the face with a steel chair. But at any rate, this should be interesting.