Buying a Senate Seat in Connecticut
by Charles Lemos, Wed Dec 30, 2009 at 05:26:18 PM EST
She's spent $5 million so far and she's prepared to spend another $25 million of her own money on the object of her desire - a seat in the United States Senate representing Connecticut. She's Linda McMahon, the wife of wrestling kingpin Vince McMahon. From the New York Times:
She is a political novice seeking to unseat one of the most powerful Democrats in the United States Senate. But Linda McMahon does possess one big weapon: a vast personal fortune that she is already wielding to shake up the race.
Ms. McMahon has been saturating residents with television advertisements, pouring money into the campaigns of local elected officials and building a campaign organization that dwarfs its rivals.
The spending, roughly $5 million, more than 10 months before the election, has transformed Ms. McMahon, the former chief executive of World Wrestling Entertainment, into a potent political force as she seeks the Republican nomination to challenge Senator Christopher J. Dodd.
The campaign of Ms. McMahon's main rival in the Republican primary, former Representative Rob Simmons, has responded with a wave of attacks as he suddenly finds himself contending with a formidable opponent.
Even Democrats close to the Dodd campaign acknowledge concerns about facing Ms. McMahon in a general election, given the huge sums of money she has been willing to spend in the first few months of the race. Her campaign says she is prepared to spend at least $30 million to win the seat.
Thirty million is quite the tidy sum considering that in the 2008 cycle the most expensive Senate race in the country was the contest between Al Franken and Norm Coleman up in Minnesota. To win the seat, the challenger Franken raised and spent $22.5 million and the incumbent Norm Coleman raised and spent $19.3 million. But of that $41.8 million, a combined $15 million was spent by both candidates in the legal challenges that arose from the close contest that led to a recount and its ensuing six month long court battle. In other words before election day, Franken and Coleman spent $26.8 million combined. McMahon may exceed that amount on her own.
Still, a bruising primary fight may be what the doctor ordered for flailing Chris Dodd who has spent $1.8 million on the race as of September. As for the other Republican in the race, Rob Simmons, he has spent $900,000 so far. Still he's being outspent 5 to 1. While the race in Connecticut has seen a grand total of $11,034,712 spent so far according to Open Secrets, that's only good enough for second place right now. In Arizona, $11,813,091 has been spent.
Just for the record, after Minnesota the two next most expensive Senate races in the 2008 cycle were in Kentucky with a combined $32.1 million spent (McConnell spent $21 million to defend his seat) and in Texas with a combined $23.0 million spent (Corynn spend $19 million to defend his seat). In the 2008 cycle, the average winner of a Senate seat spent $8,531,267. And the overall record belongs to Jon Corzine who spent $62 million to win a Senate seat from New Jersey in 2000. Combined with his winning and losing runs for governor in 2005 and 2009, Jon Corzine spent an estimated $131 million of his own money in his three runs for office.