Blumenthal snags Dodd’s spot

By Susan Haigh
Associated Press / November 3, 2010

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HARTFORD — Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal was elected to the Senate yesterday in a bruising battle of a campaign against pro wrestling mogul Linda McMahon, extending the Democrats’ hold on the seat.

Blumenthal, one of Connecticut’s best-known politicians, withstood an advertising onslaught funded by tens of millions of dollars from McMahon’s own pocket and survived a test last spring when it was reported that he falsely claimed or implied on repeated occasions that he served in Vietnam.

“I have something money can’t buy: I have you,’’ Blumenthal told supporters who filled a downtown hotel ballroom. “And Connecticut today had an election, not an auction.’’

With about a third of precincts reporting, Blumenthal had 53 percent of the vote to 46 percent for McMahon, a Republican political novice who touted her business experience in the world of wrestling.

Blumenthal, 64, will fill the seat held by Democrat Chris Dodd since 1981. Dodd decided not to seek a sixth term back in January amid lackluster poll numbers.

Democratic incumbents from Connecticut fought off strong challenges from Republicans for several US House seats.

Jim Himes has won reelection in Connecticut’s Fourth District, holding off a challenge from Republican state Senator Dan Debicella. Republicans had targeted the race, hoping to oust the freshman, who is the first Democrat to hold the Fourth District seat since 1969. But Himes was able to secure his party’s urban base with the help of President Obama, who headlined a rally in Bridgeport on Saturday.

Himes also reached out to more conservative Fairfield County voters by coming out in favor of keeping the Bush-era tax cuts, even for wealthier Americans. The former Goldman Sachs vice president also highlighted his role in helping write Wall Street overhaul legislation, designed to prevent a repeat of the 2008 credit crisis.

Chris Murphy was locked in a tight race with Republican Sam Caligiuri in western Connecticut’s Fifth District.

Democrats held onto Connecticut’s other three seats in Congress.

Parts of Bridgeport were hit by a shortage of ballots, prompting election and court officials to keep 12 of 23 polling places open an extra two hours, until 10 p.m.

Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz said a Superior Court judge ordered the extended hours yesterday evening, at the request of Democrats and the city officials.

She blamed the shortage on Bridgeport’s voter registrars, who ordered just 21,000 ballots. She said the city has about 69,000 registered voters.