I wasn’t by her side the entire time, but I’d say Republican U.S. Senate nominee/former World Wrestling Entertainment CEO Linda McMahon got a very warm reception during her afternoon walk through downtown Shelton.
“I’m proud of you,” John Burns, owner of The Little Tomato pizzeria and a one-time school mate of McMahon’s daughter, WWE performer/executive Stephanie, said as the candidate walked through his door.
Burns afterward recalled knowing the McMahons while growing up in Greenwich, where they continue to reside.
“They were the most hospitable people I ever met in my entire life,” Burns told reporters.
McMahon was also a hit a few blocks away at Downtown Danny O’s restaurant, where she posed for photos with staff and patrons who recognized her from either the campaign or her performances for WWE or both.
Danny O’s is located right next to a vacant lot that, four years ago, was the site of the building then-Republican U.S. Senate nominee Alan Schlesinger used as his campaign headquarters.
Schlesinger was the candidate the GOP nominated and then pretty much abandoned in 2006 as Republicans chose instead to back veteran U.S. Senator Joseph Lieberman’s third-party run after he lost the Democratic primary to anti-Iraq War candidate Ned Lamont.
Shelton Alderman Eric McPherson, a Republican who joined McMahon on her walking tour today, told me the former Schlesinger HQ was torn down in late 2007 to make way for a mixed use development that has been stalled by the poor economy.
The fenced in, overgrown property is a sad monument to Schlesinger’s ultimately hopeless 2006 campaign.
It was fascinating to be standing near the spot with McMahon, who came from nowhere to win the Republican nomination, then last week’s Republican primary, and who has steadily been creeping up on popular Democratic nominee/long-time state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal in the polls.
Republicans have never been able to find a candidate to truly challenge Blumenthal for Attorney General. And Democrats for years have salivated at the idea of his running for Governor or Congress and crushing whoever the GOP convinced/bribed/threatened to dare to take him on.
So this could have very easily been the year that Republicans nominated another Alan Schlesinger.
Instead, they’ve got McMahon, who, at least at this point in time, is running a tough, self-funded campaign that is giving Blumenthal and his party another reason to sweat during this hot and humid summer and the GOP a reason to hope.