McMahon's campaign was caught off-guard by the mid-September disclosure in The Day of Linda and Vince McMahon's personal bankruptcy records from 1976. The couple's early financial struggles before the wrestling business success has been central to McMahon's rags-to-riches campaign narrative.
The newly revealed records showed nearly $1 million in claims from 26 creditors. McMahon quickly announced that she would repay voluntarily, with interest, the private, individual creditors and labor unions on the list. She was under no legal obligation to do so.
Her campaign declined last week to say how much money McMahon paid the former creditors this fall.
McMahon stepped down as WWE's chief executive officer in September 2009 for her first try at the Senate. Her husband, Vince McMahon, the current chairman and CEO, is the face of the family's global wrestling empire and a celebrity in the entertainment world.
But unlike Murphy's wife, Cathy Holahan, Vince McMahon has kept far away from his spouse's campaign rallies and meet-and-greets.
The most recent Quinnipiac poll showed 59 percent of likely Connecticut voters with a negative opinion of professional wrestling and 24 percent with a positive view.
"If Vince McMahon showed up at one of his wife's campaign events, what would his presence mean to most people?" said Vincent Moscardelli, assistant professor of American politics at the University of Connecticut. "Would it remind them of the McMahons' long marriage, their commitment to one another and their strong nuclear family, or would it remind people of professional wrestling? Given his celebrity, I think it would probably be the latter."
Murphy and McMahon will each have two lines on Tuesday's ballot, thanks to cross-endorsements: Murphy by the Connecticut Working Families Party and McMahon by the state's Independent Party.
McMahon upset some Democrats and a few Republicans with recent ads that urge inner-city minorities to vote for President Barack Obama and then for her, on the Independent Party line. Her campaign also has canvassing operations in the state's largest cities.
"We are, unlike many other previous Republican statewide campaigns, actively doing get-out-the-vote efforts in all the cities in the state -- Waterbury, Stamford, Hartford, New Haven, Bridgeport," Abrajano, her campaign spokesman, said Friday. "Are we gonna win in those cities? Probably not. But we're going to do much better than Republican campaigns have done statewide."
Anthony Basilica, former chairman of New London's Democratic Town Committee, believes that despite her snappy opening line, McMahon lost more voters than she gained from last month's four debates.
"Once she got away from her talking points, she didn't know what to say," said Basilica, also a former city councilor.
He predicts Murphy will be victorious Tuesday, but with a much narrower margin than Democrats once expected.
Basilica noted the absence in this year's race of any TV ads highlighting the more provocative wrestling ring scenes from the years before the WWE softened its advisory rating from TV-14 to PG in 2008.
"Murphy has not really responded when he needed to, and how he could have," Basilica said. "You gotta get in there and you gotta fight. If he had done that from the beginning and defended himself, it probably wouldn't be as close as it will be."
Distributed by MCT Information Services
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