When Chris Dodd announced his retirement this Wednesday, the media hullabaloo focused on Richard Blumenthal. With a massive lead over every Republican in the field, the Connecticut Attorney General, who announced his candidacy directly after Dodd’s statement, already represents the Democrats’ most promising chance to hold Dodd’s seat. But Merrick Alpert, who launched his primary challenge to Dodd last May, has pledged to hold on for dear life. “When you step out there and commit, you commit,” he told me, citing his faith in vigorous Democratic primaries.
Though Alpert initially focused much of his campaign on Dodd’s missteps, he claims that the senator’s retirement and Blumenthal’s presence does not change the race. “I’m not running against anyone, I’m running for the Senate,” he said and quickly shifted the topic to former WWE CEO Linda McMahon, one of the leading Republicans in the field. “When you see someone taking $50 million of world wrestling money to buy an election, the issue of clean government is ripe for discussion. She’s trying to buy an election. That, to me, is disgraceful and just not acceptable.”
If the Blumenthal news is bad for Alpert, who polled 30 points behind the unpopular Dodd, it’s even worse for McMahon, who showed a slight lead over Dodd but trails Blumenthal by more than 30.
But instead of going after Blumenthal, Alpert, a lifelong Democrat who worked for Bill Clinton and Al Gore, was eager to add to his list of McMahon criticisms, saying “she’s bad medicine for Connecticut.” In between brief exchanges with supporters during his 5-day, 90-mile walk through Connecticut, he said over the sound of car honks that McMahon “is as phony as the place that she made her money. In none of her ads does she ever mention world wrestling. You would think that she and her husband owned a deli when in fact they made a fortune on lingerie wrestling matches. I’m not looking to explain that to my kids.”