In Tiny Ct., A Big Loss For McMahon's $50M Campaign

Republican Senate candidate Linda McMahon, the former CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment, spent close to $50 million on her campaign. Then she lost to state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal — but not before blowing one last wad of cash on a big party.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

And this final thought on yesterday's vote. It turns out money can't buy you an election. If you need proof, consider Connecticut. Republican Linda McMahon, the former CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment, spent close to $50 million trying to win a Connecticut Senate seat. She didn't succeed but that didn't stop her dropping one last check on a great big party.

NPR's Robert Smith was there.

(Soundbite of song, "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction")

ROBERT SMITH: There are two phrases no one wants to hear at an election night party: Your candidate just lost, and...

Unidentified Man #1: Last call for alcohol. Okay?

SMITH: Four hours after defeat, Republicans were still crowding the five fully stocked bars. So who are the last people at a loser's party?

Unidentified Man #2: People that are very distraught.

SMITH: You are not distraught. You're grinning. You have a drink in your hand.

Unidentified Man #2: I really am. Well, this is my way of coping.

Unidentified Man #3: (Singing) And I try, and I try...

SMITH: If you got to lose, this is the way to do it, with a multi-millionaire picking up the check. Linda McMahon did up the Connecticut Convention Center like it was the Republican prom. Balloon arches, a live band, and the food -Fred Kroll(ph) and his wife went to town.

Mr. FRED KROLL: They had five stations. They were slicing beef and pork and chicken...

SMITH: Tell me the truth. Was it nicer than your wedding?

Mr. KROLL: It was.

Ms. KROLL: You want to mess with me?

SMITH: We'll leave them alone.

People don't usually complain when a hostess spends money. But voters in Connecticut say they were turned off by all the spending in this race. When the votes are tallied and the bills are paid, it looks like Linda McMahon will have spent $50 million for about a half a million votes. That's a hundred dollars a person. You know what you can get for a hundred dollars a person?

Mr. TIM MCCANN: They are serving caviar here. I mean where...

SMITH: Where is the caviar? What are you talking about?

Mr. MCCANN: Well, it's gone now. But honestly, it was over here before. Caviar.

SMITH: Tim McCann is one of the last few stragglers at the party. But there is one person who is having a tougher time letting go.

Linda McMahon moves through the hall thanking everyone. She says she is happy about this last expenditure.

Ms. LINDA MCMAHON (Republican, Former Senatorial Candidate): And I love all these folks. It's very nice for them to be here.

SMITH: So you are willing to party with them into the night?

Ms. MCMAHON: Oh, for sure.

Good night.

Unidentified Man #4: Thank you.

SMITH: She doesn't leave till one in the morning.

Robert Smith, NPR News, Hartford, Connecticut.

MONTAGNE: And this is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

STEVE INSKEEP, host:

And I'm Steve Inskeep.

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