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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.

Nearly two months ago, Roll Call reported that McMahon had requested a private meeting with National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn (Texas). While the purpose of the meeting with the Senate Republicans’ top campaign official was never disclosed, it was widely believed that she was trying to gauge support for another Senate bid.

Cornyn told Roll Call this week that the meeting, originally scheduled in December, never happened.

“I think it was a scheduling thing,” he said. “I don’t think it was anything more than that.”

And asked whether he would like to see her run again, Cornyn feigned indifference: “That’s up to the primary voters of Connecticut.”

Aside from McMahon, only former Rep. Rob Simmons is known to be weighing a bid on the Republican side. After a bizarre 2010 campaign, he was ultimately knocked off by McMahon in the GOP primary. There continues to be bad blood between the two.

Simmons has consistently bashed McMahon as a multimillionaire who has yet to win anything in a brief political career. He is expected to make a decision about his political future in March. But there is little doubt that McMahon, having captured the endorsement of the state Republican convention last cycle, would have the upper hand in a rerun GOP primary.

“I see her as the frontrunner, among the Republicans anyway,” said Lieberman ally and former state Democratic Party Chairman John Droney.

Droney said the GOP has a better chance of capturing a Connecticut Senate seat in 2012 than it did in 2010.

The 2010 contest for former Sen. Chris Dodd’s (D) open seat effectively pitted McMahon against an incumbent, Droney said. Blumenthal was basically a household name, having served as the state attorney general for two decades. Droney said the 2012 race could be far easier for her.

“I think she’s a very good candidate. She spent the money to get the name recognition statewide. And she exited very gracefully,” Droney said. “She lost, ran a bunch of ads, which were pretty classy if you want the truth. I know she’s distancing herself from wrestling. And this time, she won’t be running against an incumbent.”

Roll Call Politics rates this race Leans Democratic, and her indecision has had little effect on the Democratic side.

Longtime Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz (D) jumped into the race in late January, and Rep. Christopher Murphy (D) followed suit the day after Lieberman made clear his intention not to run again. And the field could grow.

Others to watch include Edward Kennedy Jr. (D), son of the late Senator and an investment banker who helped top-of-the-ticket Connecticut Democrats in 2010. Former state Treasurer Frank Borges (D), a centrist with strong connections in the investment community, has also been courting Democrats, including Droney. And Rep. Joe Courtney (D) is expected to announce his intentions by the end of the month.

Droney suggested that Murphy, popular among Washington Democrats, has work to do back home. “The people in Congress always think they’re in better shape than they are,” he said.

And the messier it gets on the Democratic side, the better chance McMahon will have. If she runs, that is.

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