As the August primary election draws closer, the race for Connecticut’s Republican Senate nomination is heating up.
Last Wednesday, in her first press conference since declaring her candidacy, Republican senatorial hopeful Linda McMahon, the former wrestling executive who lost to Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal LAW ’73 in 2010 despite vastly outspending him, unveiled an economic policy plan in Newington, Conn. In an effort to portray herself as a job creator, McMahon outlined a plan featuring tax cuts for the middle class and corporations, among other proposals, but former U.S. Rep. Chris Shays, her principal rival for the nomination, said McMahon’s plan does not do enough to address the federal government’s ballooning deficit.
McMahon’s proposal would cut the middle-class income tax rate from 25 percent to 15 percent and also exempt members of the middle class from the capital gains tax. Her plan also preserves the Bush-era tax cuts for the highest earners. And in addition to lowering the corporate income tax rate, the proposal also calls for closing corporate loopholes in the tax code.
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The plan suggests reducing federal spending by 1 percent per year through “targeted” cuts, though it does not specify where the cuts would come from. McMahon specified that the defense budget would not be a targeted area.
While the Shays campaign said he already supports in Congress many of McMahon’s proposals, Amanda Bergen, a Shays spokeswoman, criticized McMahon’s plan for provisions that she called “irresponsible and politics as usual.”
“McMahon’s proposal makes our annual trillion-dollar deficits even worse by proposing huge tax cuts with no spending offsets,” she said.
Shays, who served in Congress from 1987 to 2009, wrote an op-ed last month for the News Times, a Connecticut-based news source, supporting the goal of eliminating the deficit in six years. But like McMahon, Shays has yet to identify specific areas of the federal budget from which to cut funding. Shays also touted his past advocacy for a balanced budget amendment, which McMahon also supports.
In response to Shays’s candidacy, the McMahon campaign highlighted their candidate’s business record as the former CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment.
“Linda is a job creator, the congressman is not,” said Erin Isaac, a McMahon spokeswoman. “Linda knows what it’s like to take a risk and start a business, the congressman does not. We cannot continue to send professional politicians to Washington.”
The 2012 Senate race began to take shape after incumbent Sen. Joseph Lieberman ’64 LAW ’67, an Independent who caucuses with Democrats, announced that he would not seek reelection.
As of December 31, McMahon has raised over $1 million more than Shays, with roughly three-quarters of the funds coming from McMahon’s own money, according to the website OpenSecrets.org, which tracks campaign finance information.
Two polls — one from Public Policy Polling and another by Quinnipiac University — conducted last September found that McMahon enjoys a double-digit lead over Shays, but new polling data has not been collected for at least five months.
Connecticut’s Democrat-heavy electorate suggests that either Republican would likely face an uphill battle in the general election. But with both parties’ nominations contested, the final landscape of the race is still in flux.
The race for the Democratic nomination is in full swing, front-runner U.S. Rep. Chris Murphy battling former secretary of the state Susan Bysiewicz ’83 and State Rep. William Tong of Stamford.
The date of the primary election for both parties is Aug. 14, and the general election will be held Nov. 6.