McMahon Campaign—The Best Defense is a Good Offense

While on vacation last week, The Shad did his best to not be obsessed with all things political. I was fairly successful. However, now it’s back to work. And there is plenty to talk about.

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Former wrestling CEO Linda McMahon is so far pulling off an impressive combination of electoral strategies. It goes something like this: Throw out accusations against your opponent that will resonate with voters whether the charges are true or not; determine a crucial issue on which your campaign is vulnerable and put your opponent continually on the defense on the very same issue; and then get columnists, bloggers and others sympathetic to your campaign to keep it in the headlines as long as possible.

McMahon started out immediately after the primary using her unlimited personal fortune to absolutely saturated every medium available to say Democrat Chris Murphy didn’t show up for work as a congressman. The ads were everywhere including the little 30-second video one has to sit through when trying to view something on YouTube.

It matters not that a full, honest picture of Murphy’s “attendance” when it counted is above ninety percent. The answer to the charge of being a no-show takes more than a sentence and therefore won’t be heard or understood. It was and is an effective if not honest one.

Murphy continues to be on the defensive now with charges he got a sweetheart deal from the bank from which he got his mortgage and that he didn’t pay his rent or mortgage in the past. The personal finances issue was first raised by former Republican state lawmaker, blogger and Hartford Courant columnist Kevin Rennie. Rennie is no fan of Murphy.

Does the McMahon campaign really want to take on Murphy on the issue of how one gets out of a personal finance mess? There are at least two ways to straighten things out when someone is trying to put his financial house in order. 1) Immediately take care of things by catching up on any payments on which one is behind, or 2) Declare bankruptcy (screwing creditors), get some money from a convicted Waterbury loan shark, then claim there are no records of the bankruptcy procedures including which creditors got left holding the debt bag. Murphy chose the former; McMahon the latter.

The stunning thing about this issue is that it’s McMahon that should be accounting for personal financial problems. Murphy was sued for foreclosure on his Southington home. The suit was dropped in less than a month. McMahon and her husband actually lost their West Hartford home for failure to pay back a mortgage. Murphy’s creditors got paid. McMahon’s are out of luck. No records of McMahon’s bankruptcy? Please.

The point is there are serious questions about how McMahon dealt with personal financial problems (not to mention the nature of her business and how she treated her employees). The best way to distract from that is to put Murphy on the defensive on the same issue. We can expect continuous advertising alleging Murphy got some sort of sweetheart deal from his bank. It matters not that there is no evidence to support the charge; the accusation is out there. Webster Bank even issued a statement denying Murphy got any sort of preferential treatment. But McMahon wins by having the bank made a statement at all.

McMahon campaign manager Corry Bliss took up a notch by filing a complaint about Murphy with the Office of Congressional Ethics (he gave the info to the national website Politico before releasing it in Connecticut). There is no evidence Murphy is guilty of anything other having a messy personal financial situation that he quickly rectified. But again, the full picture and the truth don’t matter in the McMahon strategy. All that matters is that the accusations against Murphy are still in the headlines.