Updated story: Wilton mirrors state in picking McMahon and Murphy
Wilton went with the winners in Tuesday's primary election, as Republicans and Democrats overwhelmingly voted for Linda McMahon and Chris Murphy to face off in a race for U.S. Senate. The two candidates were victorious statewide.
Here, Republicans cast 579 votes for Ms. McMahon, former CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment, and 443 votes for her challenger former U.S. Rep. Christopher Shays, who had served the 4th Congressional District from 1987 to 2008.
Democrats picked Mr. Murphy, who has represented Connecticut's 5th Congressional District since 2006, with 398 votes over former Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz, who received 118 votes.
Voter turnout was 24% for Republicans with 1,013 voting out of 4,195 eligible. On the Democratic side, turnout was 18%, with 518 of 2,925 eligible voters casting ballots.
Low turnout may have been due, in part, to some voters being confused about where they should vote. According to Democratic Registrar of Voters Carole Young-Kleinfeld, some voters who experienced a change in polling place due to redistricting showed up at their previous polling place. The registrars sent out two postcard mailings earlier this year advising voters of their polling places.
Voting results, including absentee ballots, by district was:
District 1 — Murphy 121, Bysiewicz 49
District 2 — Murphy 146, Bysiewicz 41
District 3 — 131, Bysiewicz 28
District 1 — McMahon 226, Shays 154
District 2 — McMahon 170, Shays 177
District 3 — McMahon 174, Shays 112
Wilton Democratic Town Committee Chairman John Kalamarides said the results were not surprising.
"Rep. Chris Murphy's results of 398 votes to former Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz's 118 in Wilton and 65% for Murphy and 35% for Bysiewicz statewide was as expected," he told The Bulletin.
"Throughout the campaign, Chris's six years in Washington and his command of the issues overpowered Susan's efforts. In addition, Chris from the beginning had the endorsements of the governor, the lieutenant governor, the attorney general, and the comptroller as well as the four other Connecticut U.S. representatives.
"Susan is a tenacious competitor. In past elections she has been able to overcome the role of the challenger and win. We wish her well in her future efforts.
"It is disappointing that only 18% of eligible Democratic voters turned out. But given the time of the primary in the middle of a summer when everyone is concentrating on vacations and getting children ready for school and off to college, it is not surprising.
"This U.S. Senate race will be an exciting one," he said. "Here we have a Republican candidate in Linda McMahon who is willing to spend as much of her millions as necessary to defeat a Democrat who has the Washington experience, who will run on the issues, and who is dedicated to representing all of us. I am sure that Democrats will come out in force to support Chris in his campaign and send him to the U.S. Senate."
Al Alper, chairman of the Wilton Republican Town Committee, is looking forward to the Nov. 6 election.
"Linda McMahon again won a much deserved victory," he told The Bulletin in an email Wednesday morning. "She ran a terrific campaign that saw an overwhelming margin of victory here in Wilton and across Connecticut, and demonstrated why she WILL be our next senator. I look forward to her challenging Mr. Murphy and exposing his abysmal attendance record and job-killing voting record.
"Linda's rags-to-riches story IS the American Dream and will be inspirational to any and every voter who believes that, only in America can you be anything you want to be if you're willing to work. As Connecticut voters look to the future, and toward what America can be again — they will see Linda McMahon as a shining example of the hope that lives in each and every one of us as we struggle for that Dream, working toward the brass ring without the shackles of Big Government suffocating our hopes and killing The Dream. Working toward a future where WE DID BUILD IT.
"Chris Shays was and is a good friend to Wilton; his years of service in State and Federal Government will be long remembered, but the good work he did away from the cameras and the limelight entitle him to a special place in the hearts of all Wiltonians. I look forward to keeping in contact with him and seeing what his next chapter will bring."
Results were more mixed among Wilton's Republican neighbors, with Mr. Shays winning New Canaan, Darien and Weston. Mr. Murphy took those towns as well as Redding and Ridgefield.
Statewide, Ms. McMahon, a Greenwich resident, crushed Mr. Shays. According to the Associated Press, as of Tuesday night Ms. McMahon had a 73% to 27% lead over Mr. Shays with 94% of state precincts reporting.
Mr. Murphy's margin of victory was only slightly less impressive as he easily bested Ms. Bysiewicz in their primary. Mr. Murphy had, according to the AP, a 67.5% to 32.5% lead with 92.5% of precincts reporting.
Mr. Shays, who had previously said that he had never run against an opponent he respected less than Ms. McMahon and left much doubt he would ever formally endorse her, did call to congratulate her and tell her she had his vote.
In her speech before a raucous crowd, Ms. McMahon unveiled the theme to her campaign, saying she would bring a message to Connecticut voters that "we will do better." Calling Mr. Murphy "a career politician," Ms. McMahon said his six years in Congress have resulted in nothing more than "more spending, more debt and more unemployment."
"On Nov. 6, Connecticut will have a choice that is clear, crystal clear," Ms. McMahon said. "Chris Murphy is a professional politician. I am a small business jobs creator. He does not understand how jobs are created and has never created a job. I do. I have. We will. He puts his trust in government. I put my trust in you. He is a follower. I will lead."
In his victory speech Mr. Murphy said, "Here's what I know tonight: the coalition of regular, hard working middle class folks who made this resounding victory possible tonight, will guarantee that Linda McMahon will not buy the election this fall.
"I hope Linda McMahon and her high-priced handlers and consultants are watching tonight. I might not be a billionaire. My family might not live in a mansion. Hell, I don't even own a yacht. But here's what I do have: I have thousands of middle class families who stood with us tonight, who will be joined by tens of thousands more in November, who want a senator who understands their struggles, and who has been fighting for them for the last decade.
"Over the past 10 years, I've spent every ounce of my being fighting for that out-of-work dad who's got to get back to work, for that hungry kid who just wants three meals a day, for that homeless veteran who wants a roof over his head," he continued. "And during that same time, Linda McMahon has spent every ounce of her being, fighting for profits, at the expense of her employees, at the expense of Connecticut jobs, and at the expense of common decency.
"I've spent the last 10 years running to people to help them. Linda McMahon has spent the last 10 years running over people to help herself."
In her speech, Ms. McMahon also took the chance to distance herself from the "Ryan budget" embraced by some Republicans and named after Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan, who is now the Republican vice presidential candidate. She said she would "never support" a budget that cuts Medicare funding for seniors and said she was even open to the idea of raising taxes on the wealthy once the economy was strong again, but only if it was used to pay down the deficit and not for government spending.
However, this victory is not new territory for Ms. McMahon, who also easily won the Republican Senate primary in 2010, only to lose the general election to Sen. Dick Blumenthal. Polls have shown Mr. Murphy consistently ahead in a face-to-face matchup with Ms. McMahon but with a smaller lead than Mr. Blumenthal enjoyed. With that in mind, Ms. McMahon urged her supporters to enjoy the night but "not have too much fun" because they had a lot of hard work to start in the morning as they focused on the general election.