In her first television interview since election night, Republican Linda McMahon gave signals that she may run for political office again, possibly in 2012 for the senate seat currently held by independent Joe Lieberman.
During a taping of “Face the State with Dennis House,” the former WWE CEO said she wouldn’t rule out a future run. “I’m not taking anything off the table,” she said, declining to be specific.
We in the media love a good race, and this three way contest would have journalists salivating: Ted Kennedy, Junior for the Democrats; McMahon for the Republicans; and Lieberman the independent.
McMahon told me she wasn’t sure if Lieberman would seek a fifth term, and has heard about Kennedy as a potential candidate, and admits the Branford resident would be formidable opponent. It’s unclear if Kennedy would want to run, but if he did he might clear the field of Democrats. State party chairwoman Nancy DiNardo once called Kennedy a “dream candidate” for ’12, and just today a well placed Democratic operative also suggested his name to me. I wrote more in-depth about Kennedy and his prospects for 2012, earlier this year. http://dennishouse.wordpress.com/2010/01/24/ted-kennedy-junior-in-12/
Kennedy and McMahon tangled briefly during the campaign, when Kennedy called on McMahon to stop using footage of his late uncle, President John Kennedy, in her commercials.
As for other candidates, most people expect Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz to run. Despite the awful year she’s had, she remains very popular among Democrats. Remember, back in January a Quinnipiac University poll showed Bysiewicz with a big over Dan Malloy and Ned Lamont in the race for Governor. In fact, her strong showing in a 2009 Q.U. poll, may have played a role in Governor Rell’s decision not to see re-election. That poll showed Bysiewicz just a handful of points behind the state’s most popular politician. Dropping out of the race to run for Attorney General is undoubtedly the biggest mistake of campaign 2010.
Other candidates for the senate could come from the congressional delegation. Some expect Jim Himes to consider it, after his strong re-election preceded by a CT Capitol Report poll predicting his defeat. His opposition to Nancy Pelosi’s election as Minority Leader could make him more appealing to moderates and independents. Himes’ appearance with President Obama at Harbor Yard this year could also earn him a nudge from the White House to run.
Nobody will be surprised if Chris Murphy runs for the senate, he has hinted at it for some time. Joe Courtney hasn’t hinted at it, but has just as much of a reason to run as Murphy, so who knows. Murphy seems to be more ambitious than Himes and Courtney and I’m told by a Democratic insider that could translate into being a better campaigner, although that person also felt Himes has a better profile.
As for Republicans, former Ambassador Tom Foley might want to run, maybe former Congressman Rob Simmons, and I’ve also heard of at least one member of the General Assembly eyeing Lieberman’s seat.
As for McMahon, she told me she is analyzing the results and will then make a decision on her future sometime next year. “We are doing polling to see if we can identify which voting groups didn’t turn out.” We also talked about her belief that the media cut Richard Blumenthal a pass: “an Attorney General should be held to a higher standard.”
Speaking of Blumenthal, I asked McMahon if she was disappointed when Senator Chris Dodd dropped out. At the time polls showed her ahead of Dodd, and never again in the campaign would McMahon lead a poll. “It would have been an easier race against Dodd, but I expected it would be Dick Blumenthal we would run against,” McMahon said.
While McMahon was vague about her future, it is clear she is optimistic about her chances. She did better than any Republican in a Connecticut senate race since Lowell Weicker, and got more votes than Lamont got in 2006, more than Lieberman, too. McMahon also told me her campaign “energized” the Republican party, and points to her party’s gains in the General Assembly. Hartford Courant columnist Kevin Rennie said McMahon has built up plenty of goodwill in the party, and that could aid her in ’12.
Look for McMahon in your living rooms next week in a new television spot thanking those who voted for her. The ads will run Tuesday.
See you Sunday morning at 11 for “Face the State” right here on WFSB Channel 3.