I've already posted on Linda McMahon's CT GOP convention nod and expressed my displeasure with the state party's singular stupidity in endorsing McMahon to run against Dick Blumenthal for the seat soon to be vacated by un-indicted Corruptocrat Chris Dodd. My own view is that Linda McMahon is just more of the same 'ole same 'ole as evidenced by her indisputable history of political contributions.
See my post "Is Linda McMahon a Secret Democrat? - I Think So."
Anyway, the Stamford Advocate's story confirms what any thinking and concerned citizen has already internalized. Linda McMahon is anything but a political outsider.
McMahon's wealth turns politics inside out
Brian Lockhart, Staff Writer
Published: 05:51 p.m., Monday, June 14, 2010(Page 2 of 2)
How many political insiders does it take to elect a self-described political outsider like Republican Linda McMahon to the U.S. Senate?
A review by Hearst Connecticut Newspapers of McMahon's campaign finance filings shows the Greenwich businesswoman and millionaire has so far spent about $11 million on accomplished consultants with close ties to national and state Republican politics.
"She can call herself whatever she wants, but clearly, there's a difference between a campaign that is kind of outside the political establishment and one that is using that rhetoric but using the very conventional and mainstream and established political resources," said Howard Reiter, professor emeritus of political science with the University of Connecticut.
When McMahon, whose family owns Stamford-based World Wrestling Entertainment, won the party's endorsement May 21, her website crowed: "Linda wins! Connecticut Republicans sent a clear and resounding message that they intend to challenge the Washington establishment and its hand-picked candidate with a political outsider."
McMahon defeated former U.S. Rep. Rob Simmons for the endorsement and faces Democratic nominee and long-time Attorney General Richard Blumenthal.
Topping McMahon's list of establishment talent are Texas-based Scott Howell & Co. and Majority Strategies, of Florida.
Howell has worked under GOP strategist Karl Rove and Lee Atwater, the late adviser to Republican Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. The McMahon campaign has so far paid about $6.5 million for Howell's media expertise, ad production and placement.
Majority Strategies, a direct mail firm whose website boasts clients such as the Republican National Committee, Republican State Party Victory Committee, and the national Republican congressional and senatorial committees, has been paid about $3.7 million for design, printing and mailing costs.
"I guess the main idea here is if you're an outsider with money, you can afford to purchase the best political communications team money can buy to tell everyone how you're such an outsider," said Scott McLean, a political science professor at Quinnipiac University.
McMahon spokesman Ed Patru said it is obvious a serious candidate would seek experienced campaign support.
"Linda interviewed many prospective candidates for campaign positions, including a shepherd, several skiing instructors and an astronaut," Patru said. "But in the end, she decided to staff her campaign with people who have campaign experience."
That includes Patru, former deputy communications director for the National Republican Congressional Committee.
McMahon's roster of political talent also includes GOP strategist Mike Slanker's three Nevada-based companies: Autumn Productions, Autumn E-Media and November Inc. Slanker is former political director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, and his past clients include President George W. Bush's 2004 re-election campaign and the Republican Governors Association.
The Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call has called Slanker "clearly the most feared consultant on the Republican side."
Bob Moore runs Moore Information, an opinions research and strategic analysis firm in Oregon hired by McMahon. As executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee from 1977 to 1980, Moore helped the GOP capture control of the U.S. Senate for the first time in nearly three decades.
Strategic Direction, a Florida-based telemarketing firm used by McMahon, was co-founded by former Florida GOP head Randy Enwright, national political director for Republican Fred Thompson's 2008 presidential bid.
McMahon's campaign has also worked with 2nd Six, a California-based grass-roots marketing company, and TargetPoint consulting in Virginia.
The 2nd Six firm was founded by Mark Ross, former GOP political director for Orange County whose resume boasts he managed a 20,000-person campaign rally for Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin in 2008.
TargetPoint founder Alexander Gage's bio states that since 1976, he has worked on almost every Republican presidential campaign, beginning with Gerald Ford's up through his role as senior strategist for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's 2008 presidential bid.
In Connecticut, the McMahon camp has spent more than $374,000 for the services of Sullivan and LeShane, a renowned lobbying and governmental relations firm that already had WWE as a client.
Her filings show that McMahon also paid $8,000 for the services of the Prince Group, of Danbury, founded by former Connecticut Republican Chairman and state Rep. Richard Foley.
And her well-compensated campaign manager is David Cappiello, a former Connecticut Republican state senator who ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 2008.
Even some of McMahon's campaign materials, such as bumper stickers, have been produced by a company that is as insider as one can get. The Spalding Group, out of Kentucky, boasts that it has been "the principal supplier to the last six Republican presidential campaigns" and also founded georgewbushstore.com.
"She's an outsider only to the extent of her lack of knowledge of how government works. She is not an outsider when it comes to who is running her campaign," said Ben Davol, a contributing columnist to The Day of New London who has worked for numerous Republican campaigns, including Simmons' 2000 race.
Now an independent, Davol said the one thing he likes about McMahon is her economic plan. But even that proposal has establishment ties. The McMahon campaign spent $20,000 seeking economic policy advice from John Rutledge, of Nevada, who advertises himself as "one of the principal architects" of President Ronald Reagan's economic plan and an adviser to the Bush White House on tax policy.
"The idea of `Ms. Outsider' using an economic plan put forth by a two-term president? That's not outsider," Davol said.
"Linda is a political outsider, and she will never be a political insider because she spent her entire life in the real world where she emerged from bankruptcy to build a global publicly traded Connecticut company that today employs nearly 600 people," Patru said. "The real-life perspective she brings to this race is refreshing, and it is in clear contrast to Richard Blumenthal's 26-year record as an entrenched career politician."
Patru added that her decision to turn down special interest money "that typically turns people into insiders" will keep McMahon better connected to constituents.
Reiter acknowledged it would be difficult for any candidate to run for U.S. Senate without an experienced team.
"We've seen plenty of candidates like her crash and burn because they didn't get good advice about how to position themselves and appeal to voters," he said.
But, Davol argued, then you are no longer an outsider.
"If she really cared about shaking up the system ... she would run as an independent. She would have gotten consultants (who are) independent, Democratic and Republican," he said. "But she needed the system and the people who set the system up to get where she wants to go."
Davol said the true outsider in the race is economist Peter Schiff, who is hoping to mount a primary against McMahon.
McLean said, "I really think this whole idea of being an outsider is kind of silly" because it can be twisted to fit any candidate. He argued that Blumenthal could just as easily claim that while he is a fixture of public life in Connecticut, he is a Washington outsider.
"Face it. Linda McMahon's wealth has made her a lot of insider friends. ... If she's not an insider, she's been knocking on the door for 20 years," McClean said. "I don't like the insider-outsider idea. The campaigns like it because they think it somehow resonates with voters. ... I think it really is becoming stale. Everyone wants to be it."