Over the past month AFSCME People, the political action arm of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, has been mailing eye-catching campaign literature to Connecticut voters deciding between Democrat Chris Murphy and Republican Linda McMahon for U.S. Senate.
The mailers regurgitate talking points Democrats and their allies in organized labor have been using against McMahon, a former professional wrestling executive, since her first bid for Senate in 2010. They point out that when she was still involved in the family-owned World Wrestling Entertainment empire, she was a cold-hearted corporate exec, slashing jobs to line her own pockets.
What makes AFSCME People’s ads so distinctive is the use of real people and the implication the folks pictured actually got pink slips from WWE.
I phoned AFSCME and WWE because, despite the fact she’s been pursuing office for three years, McMahon’s former employees have for the most part remained mum on the subject of how she ran the company. Sure the occasional disgruntled wrestler has spoken out, but people who worked in WWE’s offices in Stamford and were sent to the unemployment line have sat on the sidelines.
WWE spokesman Brian Flinn after reviewing the mailers last week told me, “To the best of my knowledge none of these people have ever worked for WWE and they appear to be actors.”
Actually, not even actors. Stock images, according to AFSCME People.
“Just like Linda McMahon’s professional ‘wrestling’ shows, political mail is designed to elicit an emotional reaction,” AFSCME Assistant Political Director Seth Johnson said in a statement. “Just because the images on our mail are representative of the hundreds of workers whose livelihoods Linda McMahon destroyed, it doesn’t make them any less ‘real’ as a campaign message.”
Two years ago in her race against Democrat Richard Blumenthal, McMahon produced mailers featuring veterans furious over Blumenthal’s misstatements about Vietnam. What wasn’t mentioned was the fact most of the angry vets were also politically active in local Republican politics.