Linda McMahon: Failed Senate Run Shows Stigma of WWE
In the great political landscape of the world, there are a lot of things that can doom a candidate. In the case of Linda McMahon and her bid for the Senate, there were many things she did wrong, especially near the end, but her WWE connections likely didn't do her any favors.
There have been former WWE stars who have had success in the political field. One of the most famous examples is Jesse Ventura, who became governor of Minnesota in 1998 by being a different kind of candidate.
However, where Ventura was able to succeed, McMahon could not. Ventura is a charismatic talker who understands how to sell himself, even if his experience and/or resume did not compare to other candidates.
What Was Linda McMahon's Biggest Campaign Flaw?
But where Ventura just had the title of "professional wrestler" on his resume, McMahon has the title of CEO on her resume. She held that title from 1997-2009.
Certainly, there was a period of great business for WWE during McMahon's tenure as CEO. But there were also very questionable angles run on television that would easily turn a lot of voters off.
As anyone who ever saw her on television during her time as CEO of WWE, McMahon has very little natural charisma. She never projected herself in a way that the masses can relate to. Whether you think that should matter, it most certainly appeals to people.
Not everything that happened to McMahon during the campaign can be blamed on her association with WWE, where she is married to chairman VInce McMahon and was CEO of the company just before she first ran for Senate in 2010.
According to Susan Haigh of the Associated Press (h/t San Francisco Chronicle), McMahon likely hurt herself due to an oversaturation of political ads down the stretch, never connecting with female voters and self-funding her own campaign.
Then there was the topic of WWE, which was addressed in both Senate campaigns that McMahon ran:
Even by pitching herself as a job creator, as she did in 2010, McMahon made the WWE a specter that was always present, [Former State GOP Chairman Robert] Poliner said.
"That became a central issue in both campaigns," he said. "I don't think you can walk away from that fact."
Right or wrong, there is a stigma attached to the WWE name and brand in the mainstream public that no one connected with it will be able to overcome, especially in the political field.
A lot of things can swing a political election one way or the other. Being a Republican candidate in a state that is more-often-than-not pro-Democrat doesn't help.
WWE does a lot for charity—just look at the Make-A-Wish efforts and the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation—but a couple years of goodwill does not erase all of the issues (steroid and drug abuse, wrestler deaths, etc.) that the company has dealt with throughout the years.
McMahon made a spirited run towards the Senate, but ultimately it wasn't meant to be.
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