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GOP Waits on Possible McMahon Connecticut Encore

Richard Messina/Hartford Courant/MCT
Republican Linda McMahon sank a fortune into her losing Senate bid in 2010. Now that there’s an open seat in Connecticut, the GOP is waiting for her next move.

In one respect, she is the Sarah Palin of Connecticut.

Former professional wrestling magnate Linda McMahon (R) is the elephant looming over those Nutmeg State Republicans interested in the Senate seat to be vacated by Sen. Joe Lieberman (I) in 2012. Just as the former Alaska governors presence would instantly and dramatically change the shape of the coming GOP presidential primary, McMahons sensational background and massive bank account could transform Connecticuts coming Senate contest.

And while she has signaled that she may run again, McMahon, who spent a record $50 million on her failed 2010 bid, does not appear to be in a hurry. Having bought near-universal name identification in the previous cycle, she can afford to wait, according to state GOP Chairman Chris Healy. But that indecision has affected the Republican field, or lack thereof.

We have a lot of mayors, legislators who have some promise, Healy told Roll Call this week. But I think as long as Lindas seen as a person interested, it in effect freezes out a lot of people from getting into it.

He didnt exactly call her out for hurting recruitment efforts, but Healy suggested that McMahon, the former CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment, should pick up the pace.

I think if youre serious about doing something this big, no matter what your background, youve got to make some indication that youre serious about it, he said. I guess well know in the next couple months whether she is.

People close to McMahon privately concede that shes been trying to distance herself from the WWE while staying visible in the months since her 10-point loss to now-Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D). Late last month, she was a panelist at a Women in Power event in Westport. And following Palins lead, she has been active on Facebook, where she announces public appearances and even critiqued President Barack Obamas State of the Union. 

Through a campaign intermediary, McMahon declined Roll Calls request for an interview.

The day Lieberman announced he would not seek re-election, McMahon wrote this in a Facebook post: I believe he deserves our respect and appreciation for bringing a strong, independent and principled voice to Washington. ... Many people have asked me what my plans are. While running for the U.S. Senate in 2012 remains an option for me, I will spend the next few months focusing on how I can best serve the people of Connecticut.

But while shes focusing, it appears that shes also trying to distance herself from the Washington, D.C., Republican establishment hardly a popular group among Connecticuts moderate electorate.

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