Big-spending former wrestling executive Linda McMahon was pinned again in her bid for a U.S. Senate seat Tuesday, losing on a night when sports and politics met in the same arena.
McMahon, a Republican who once ran World Wrestling Entertainment with blustery and better-known husband Vince McMahon, was beaten by Democrat Chris Murphy. She also lost in 2010 in a bid for the Senate. McMahon spent more than $42 million of her own wealth in the race for retiring independent Sen. Joe Lieberman’s seat.
In another Senate race, the great-grandson of one of baseball’s most august figures lost his Senate race in Florida. Connie Mack IV, a Republican, is a descendant of Hall of Fame manager Connie Mack. He was beaten by Democrat Bill Nelson, who won a third term.
Murphy, a three-term congressman, made an issue of the 64-year-old McMahon’s wrestling roots, dismissing the enterprise as a vulgar and violent spectacle that belittled women.
“I think that not every CEO is qualified to be a United States senator,” he said.
WWE, as the wrestling extravaganza is now known, tried to clean up its image during the Senate campaign in an attempt to make itself more presentable as family fare. Still, Democrats found ways to remind the electorate of an online scene featuring a wrestler simulating sex with a corpse in a casket.
Mack has made much of his baseball heritage. On his web page, the “O’’ in his first name is replaced with a baseball. The congressman’s great-grandfather managed the Philadelphia Athletics for 50 years, starting in 1901, and was always an impeccably dressed presence in the dugout. He retired when he was 88.
Mack, however, was not the only loser on the ballot with a strong baseball heritage. U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler of Kentucky is the grandson of former baseball commissioner Happy Chandler. He was commissioner from 1945-51, a period when Jackie Robinson broke the game’s racial barrier when he joined the Dodgers. Ben Chandler, a Blue Dog Democrat, lost to Republican Andy Barr, who linked his opponent to the president in a state where Barack Obama is decidedly weak.
Others with family ties on election night were two candidates with NFL connections: George Allen and Tom Rooney.
Allen had an early lead in his attempt to win a U.S. Senate seat in Virginia. He is the brother of Washington Redskins general manager Bruce Allen and the son of former Redskins coach George Allen. Rooney, a nephew of Pittsburgh Steelers owner Dan Rooney, easily won re-election to his U.S. House seat from Florida.
In Nevada, Danny Tarkanian was running for a House seat in Congress. He was the star point guard in the early 1980s at UNLV, where he was coached by his celebrated towel-chomping father, Jerry Tarkanian.
Also on the ballot were four former NFL players: Seeking congressional seats were Jon Runyan in New Jersey and Jimmy Farris in Idaho. Phil Hansen is running for the Minnesota Legislature, and Clint Didier is trying to become public lands commissioner in the state of Washington.
SBlt Associated Press writer Susan Haigh in Hartford, Conn., contributed to this report.