FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. – Connecticut’s Republican voters will choose their candidate for the U.S. Senate on Tuesday, as former U.S. Rep. Chris Shays and former WWE CEO Linda McMahon face off in the primary.
The Connecticut Republican Party endorsed McMahon at its convention May 18. She won support from 60 percent of the delegates, while Shays was the choice of 32 percent.
Much of the talk in the race has focused on the economy. Both Republicans have spoken out against what they call wasteful spending in Washington, D.C. Shays and McMahon have said they would work to repeal Obamacare. Both support a balanced budget amendment, as well as the eliminating some government programs.
Both candidates are in favor of lowering the corporate income tax rate, which currently stands at 35 percent. McMahon wants to lower it to 25 percent, and Shays supports lowering it to 15 percent. Both are also in favor of eliminating the Alternative Minimum Tax. McMahon supports reforming the financial regulations in the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. Shays supports repealing the act altogether.
McMahon says her economic plan would have a positive budgetary impact of $1.7 trillion from 2013 to 2021. One major component would be lowering the middle-class tax rate from 25 percent to 15 percent. She also wants to eliminate the capital gains tax for the middle class, end the tax on inflation, eliminate the death tax, gift tax and alternative minimum tax and provide greater deductions for educational expenses.
Shays believes his economic plan would create a 4 percent annual growth in the economy. The biggest factor holding back growth has been the Federal Reserve, he said, accusing it of mismanaging monetary policy and the dollar. Shays says he can stabilize the dollar by replacing Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, conducting a full audit on the Fed’s operations and removing the institution’s power to pay interest on bank reserves.
The battle between the two Republicans has focused on experience. Shays has touted his years as a U.S. representative and said McMahon lacks the experience to get anything done. McMahon has said that during Shays’ time as a congressman he voted for expensive bills and against tax cuts, and the country’s debt increased.
McMahon led Shays by a margin of 68 percent to 20 percent in a poll conducted by Public Policy Polling at the end of July. The same poll showed that voters would choose either of the Democratic candidates, Chris Murphy or Susan Bysiewicz, over McMahon in a general election. Voters would choose Murphy over Shays, but Shays led Bysiewicz by a 3 percent margin.
McMahon trounces all other Senate candidates in campaign fundraising. She has raised more than $14.1 million in campaign contributions so far, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Of that, she has spent more than $11.8 million. Shays has raised more than $1.5 million in contributions and spent more than $1.2 million.
Only registered Republicans can vote in Tuesday’s primary election. Voters must establish their party affiliation by noon Monday to qualify.