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OP-ED | Deck Stacked Against Third Linda McMahon Run

by Susan Bigelow | Mar 8, 2013 12:21am
(8) Comments | Commenting has expired
Posted to: Opinion

Susan Bigelow Republicans in the 4th congressional district may, according to a source quoted in the Greenwich Time, be courting Linda McMahon for a run against Rep. Jim Himes in 2014. I can hear the groans all the way from here; given that McMahon took two very expensive whiffs at a U.S. Senate seat in 2010 and 2012, this seems like the world’s worst idea.

A closer analysis shows that McMahon may be in a slightly better position for a run at Himes than we think, though Republicans will face a tough fight no matter who they nominate.

First, the bad news for those few Republicans dreaming of a McMahon run: she has never actually carried a single congressional district in either of her two races. She came close in the 5th in 2010, reflecting her greater strength in the western third of the state generally, but was trounced everywhere else. There’s more bad news: Jim Himes has been winning this district by increasingly large margins every year, and the district as a whole now swings far more Democratic than it did a decade ago.

Bridgeport has always reliably delivered large margins for Democrats, but now Norwalk, Stamford and Westport vote for Democrats by large margins as well. Towns like Trumbull and Shelton swing back and forth instead of being reliable Republican redoubts, and even Greenwich has gone for the Dems from time to time. Any Republican would have a miserable time in this district today, which leaves Linda McMahon staring up the same sort of steep hills she faced in 2010 and 2012.

The other bad news is that Linda McMahon is still, well, Linda McMahon. If voters didn’t warm to her in nearly four straight years of campaigning, why would they now? She spent mammoth sums of money and wound up with precious little to show for it. The woman who made a fortune selling stylized, choreographed violence to young men couldn’t manage to sell herself to a cynical, wary public. A third run, even for a different office, just sounds exhausting. Connecticut is kind of Linda-ed out, thanks.

This, admittedly, is a lot of bad news. But there is a sliver of good news here that might help McMahon make a case for a run, if she feels like blanketing a corner of Connecticut with direct mail pieces and TV commercials in 2014. First, McMahon did an awful lot better in the 4th district in 2012 than Himes’s hapless opponent, Steve Obsitnik.

She picked up several towns that Obsitnik lost, such as Trumbull, Shelton and Monroe, and lost the district by a much smaller margin overall. 2014 is more likely to resemble 2010 than 2012, and in that year she lost the 4th by only about 7,000 votes.

Therefore, it’s impossible to completely rule out a Linda McMahon candidacy against Jim Himes. McMahon herself says she has no plans to run.

That said, the big question here isn’t whether Linda McMahon could win (probably not) but whether any Republican can (maybe — though it’s a long shot). The district was shaken out of a long, long habit of strong support for moderate-to-liberal Republicans by the Iraq War and the myriad failures of the Bush administration.

In 2002, Rep. Chris Shays rolled to victory just as he had since he was first elected, but by 2004 he was fighting for his political life against a strong Democratic challenge. He managed to survive until 2008, when the Obama tide carried Jim Himes into office. There are still deep conservative roots here, especially in Darien and a few of the inland towns. Gubernatorial candidate Tom Foley managed to do well here in 2010, and the 4th still sends plenty of Republican representatives to Hartford. However, the current political climate in the region makes life difficult for Republicans looking to win above the level of the state legislature.

Because of this, Republicans will likely need someone with new, fresh ideas, a strong commitment to the kind of moderation favored by 4th district voters, and the ability to connect with people who aren’t wealthy white men if they want to win. In other words, not Linda McMahon. But if that person is out there, he or she may be able to make a lot of headway against Himes in a year that promises to be a tough one for Democrats across the state and the nation.

Susan Bigelow is an award-winning columnist and the founder of CTLocalPolitics. She lives in Enfield with her wife and their cats.

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(8) Comments

posted by: GoatBoyPHD | March 9, 2013  6:54pm

GoatBoyPHD

Since 1970 the 4th is an Incumbent’s District and considered a Democratic District

Linda is the wrong kind of Moderate Republican. Ask about her position on homelessness and virtually any platform that would improve social services,

Linda could try to run on abortion and gay marriage but that won’t give her traction to win.

The answer for the GOP in CT is the Jack Kemp model. Find an issue or two that your opponent does badly (housing policy, urban job creation) and make it your own.

posted by: DrHunterSThompson | March 10, 2013  4:53pm

DrHunterSThompson

See? It’s not that hard to write about nothing!

HST

posted by: thomas hooker | March 11, 2013  11:16am

Let me see if I’ve got this straight.  Linda McMahon, in her own home town of Greenwich, the most Republican town in the state, takes just 55% of the vote for Senate against a virtually unknown Litchfield congressman.  Democrat Jim Himes, in his own hometown of Greenwich, the most Republican town in the state, wins an outright majority.  But McMahon stands a chance against Jim Himes?  Seriously?  In the 4th congressional district, McMahon and all her millions lost to Murphy by nearly 19,000 votes.  But she’s considered a serious contender for Congress in the 4th CD?  She doesn’t have a prayer.  And for that candidate “out there” with “a strong commitment to the kind of moderation favored by 4th district voters,” we already have one:  Jim Himes.

posted by: Reasonable | March 11, 2013  12:11pm

DrHunterSThompson: Let’s face it…you just do not like Republicans. You are a deep-down Democrat, and always will be. What else is new with you HST/

posted by: Joe Eversole | March 11, 2013  4:57pm

At last, Susan and I finally agree on something. Linda McMahon is not the right choice for the 4th District.  Although to be fair, I am not sure how well Linda McMahon connected with old white men…..

posted by: Reasonable | March 12, 2013  11:21am

JoeEversole: You proclaim that Linda McMahon is not the right choice for the 4th district. The left wing voters already voted that way.  The voters repeated on voting for an error in judgement once again.
Murphy is a Congressman who is no leader and continually “stealing a week’s pay”—at the example of Pres. Obama, who also ot elected by his taxpayer paid, non -working, . Gov. Malloy and Chris Murphy are two big reasons on why the State of Connecticut is in sad shape.  The big city social benefits crowd—keep the likes of Murphy and Malloy in office—to continually bury our state to oblivion.
Pres. Obama won the national election in the same fashion—by creating a non-working voters base—bought and paid for with a deficit federal treasury.
Dannel Malloy is an ardent follower of deficit-spending Obmaism—which state residents can equate to “Malloyism.” 
the middle class has been sold out in Connecticut, as they have been nationally—“by Democratic union bought false prosperity.”
Why does the working class typically vote Democratic—when they cater to non-working social benefits voters? When will dwindling responsible voters wise up?

posted by: Reasonable | March 12, 2013  11:48am

Under the leadership of Pres. Barack Obama federal employees spent 3.4 million hours working for unions. How many hours, under the leadership of Gov. Dannel Malloy have State of Connecticut employees spent working for unions?  This is a major factor we can attribute to the reason of our continual state deficit budget coffers.

posted by: NOW What? | March 14, 2013  2:18am

Oh come one, folks. You all know perfectly well that the 4th district Republicans are *deliberately* saying this nonsense for the express purpose of annoying the REST of us…