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Will Shays’ Accusations Backfire? Brian K. Hill Hammers Tactics

May 16th, 2012 · 11 Comments · Analysis and Comment, City Politics, State Politics

UPDATE: Just days from the GOP convention to endorse a candidate for U.S. Senate, things are getting testy between former Congressman Christopher Shays and Linda McMahon.

Hearst Newspapers has bit on an accusation by the Shays camp trying to connect Bridgeport Republican Party Chairman John Slater’s visit to a WrestleMania event April 1 with his endorsement of Linda McMahon May 8. OIB interviewed Slater on May 1. Question: Have you decided whom you’re endorsing for U.S. Senate? Slater responded he had not made up his mind, he was torn between Bridgeport resident Shays and McMahon who he said appeared to show surprising knowledge of issues impacting an urban area. Most of the city’s GOP regulars, he explained, were with Shays and that was something that could lean his way. He said he was a wrestling fan but that was not a factor in how he would endorse. One week later he officially endorsed McMahon.

(Full disclosure: Shays’ campaign has advertised on OIB, McMahon’s campaign has advertised on OIB, Slater, through the Bridgeport GOP protesting Mayor Bill Finch’s budget, has advertised on OIB.)

Sometimes in campaigns it’s better to let stuff go. Had Slater endorsed Shays, who had no problem in the past accepting campaign donations from Linda McMahon, the Shays camp would have kicked out a news release saying we love you John Slater. Perhaps Shays took Slater’s support for granted? Either way the Shays’ camp is suggesting McMahon bought Slater’s support. Shays, who proclaimed to the world as a sitting congressman that Saddam Hussein was responsible for 9/11 (then admitted he had gotten it wrong) and then proclaimed in 2008 when his constituents were bleeding financially the “fundamentals of the economy are strong … no one can argue with that” (then admitted he had gotten it wrong) needs to show a little more restraint allowing campaign surrogates such latitude with accusations. It could come back to bite him in a general election if he manages to get by the primary, or maybe bite him before that. Democrats can pummel each other and survive. Republicans in Connecticut cannot. If the Shays camp is going to blowtorch McMahon’s wealth, it’s better to keep the focus on her and not party operatives that could help Shays down the line.

Brian K. Hill, also a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, issued this statement Wednesday afternoon:

Shays Negative Campaigning Will Not Work

Only days before the State Republican Convention, Brian K. Hill observed the US Senate race descending into mudslinging between his opponent, former 4th District Congressman Chris Shays and McMahon supporter John Slater. On Tuesday, Shays accused Slater of taking a bribe to endorse fellow candidate Linda McMahon. Slater is the Chairman of Bridgeport’s Republican Town Committee.

“This is exactly why good people don’t want to get involved with the political process and why voter turnout is so low. Shays can’t run on his liberal voting record, so his campaign had nothing better to do but browse John’s Facebook pages and create a scandal. Slater’s not supporting us, but he’s a good guy who deeply cares about the direction of this country.”

Throughout the campaign, Shays has continued to say that his poll numbers make him the best choice for the Republican Nominee for the U.S. Senate. Yet, poll numbers just weeks before his 2008 election demonstrate why voters cannot rely on early polls “He was ahead–far ahead–in the polls then–and lost by over 12,000 votes. I wouldn’t get too overconfident about any polls,” says Hill.

“This nomination process should be done carefully with all of the state’s Republicans involved. This means the several hundred thousand plus registered Republicans should have a ballot option other than Shays and McMahon. The delegates have a responsibility to ensure those other Republicans get that option.”

From Hearst:

A month before endorsing Linda McMahon for U.S. Senate, photos show John Slater, the Republican Town Committee chairman of Bridgeport, mugging for the cameras ringside at WrestleMania XXVIII in South Florida.

Now the campaign of McMahon rival Christopher Shays is publicly calling into question the dynamics of that endorsement, which a spokeswoman for the former congressman and Bridgeport resident characterized as curious.

“I find it interesting that John Slater went to WrestleMania in Miami, and soon after he returned came out and endorsed Linda McMahon,” said Amanda Bergen of the Shays campaign.

Slater vehemently denied accepting any kind of freebie from McMahon, saying he attended the April 1 wrestling extravaganza on his own dime. He furnished Greenwich Time with a photo of his Webster Bank statement and his ticket stub from the event showing that he paid $355 for a central riser seat at WrestleMania. The McMahon campaign announced Slater’s endorsement May 8.

“If they’re insinuating a bribe, which I can prove never happened, that’s totally wrong,” Slater told Greenwich Time. “If that’s the road that his campaign is now taking, it shows another reason why not to vote for him, because it’s a lie.”

Full story here.

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11 Comments so far ↓

  • Joel Gonzalez

    When John Slater posted the Wrestlemania photo, I immediately thought the Shays Camp were going to see it the way they have. I met Slater over three years ago. We got to know each other during that first year. Back then John made it known he was a diehard wrestling fan since he was a kid. John even told me he trained to be a wrestler and showed me many of the wrestling memorabilia he had collected through the years. Slater is also a diehard Washington Redskins fan–thank god there aren’t any former Redskin owners running for office in Connecticut. I remember one day when John invited me to meet an old friend of his living in Black Rock. It turned out the gentleman’s mother who also came over was a Linda McMahon former employee. It was an interesting conversation and I was taken aback by the nice things this woman said about Linda McMahon and the type of boss and person she and her family was. I’m sure Slater was moved by the things we learned that day about what the real Linda McMahon was like. John Slater was very interested in learning about the workings of Bridgeport politics and he asked me many questions about local politicians including Shays. I knew Slater was one day going to make headway in politics or he would at least give it his best shot. Welcome to the world of politics, John. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind John Slater did not and would not sell his support to anyone. If Amanda Bergen had any question or doubt regarding John’s motive, she could just have called and asked Slater straight out. I’m sure John wouldn’t have applied ‘the power drive’ to her just for asking.

  • Grin Ripper

    Sounds like Slater put a Sleeper Hold on Shays!

  • Gabriel

    Wow. The wheels are finally coming off the Shays campaign.
    I find it ironic Chris Shays has the audacity to take a shot at Slater considering Shays’ past endorsements of sitting Democrats. Then again, it must run in the family because Rick Torres followed that bon bon up with his own endorsement of Chis Caruso shortly afterwards. John Slater is a hard-working young man who has devoted a considerable amount of his time to the city of Bridgeport and to the local Republican party. Those who know him will attest there is not one duplicitous bone in his body. I find it shameful and deplorable the entire Chris Shays staff has sunk to such depths. Then again, Chris needs a job so desperate times call for desperate measures. A sad ending to a once-promising career.

  • John from Black Rock

    First off, I do not have a dog in this fight, as I’ll be supporting Chris Murphy. But having said that–I’ll say this. John Slater is a straight-up guy and the suggestion his endorsement was purchased with a WrestleMania ticket is ridiculous.

    I consider John a friend and while I question his political views and having just learned of his passion for professional wrestling, I question his choice in entertainment big time, I do not question his honesty and integrity.

    I believe Shays has shot himself in the foot with this one.

  • rcascella

    Chris,
    Many of us who supported you in the past are done. We have moved on and it’s time for new blood and fresh ideas. We are supporting Linda. Thanks for your service in the past now please step aside and work for party unity (that would be refreshing for a change).

    BC 06877

  • gfg

    Poor John Slater, all he wanted to do was enjoy his vacation. Welcome to politics and the sore-loser tirade.

    This is how the old boy brigade works. They take things for granted, forget you have to work the system and then when they don’t get their own way, they try to destroy each other.

    How’s that been working for you guys? Far as I can tell, not so good. While you’re acting like spoiled children the Democrats are stealing your cookies.

    Chris Shays should know better and the fact he doesn’t just proves he doesn’t belong in this position. You have forgotten, the party is not the enemy; THIS administration is.

    Say goodnight, Mr. Shays.

  • Rob Sullivan

    John is a good guy, but where were his seats? No one out here is asking the tough questions. Linda McMahon is going to lose either in the primary or the general election, so none of this really matters. As for mud wrestling, you gotta be in it to win it. Can I change my handle to Lean, Mean Fighting Machine? R.I.P. John Candy.

  • donj

    As a solid loyal Democrat who has voted Democrat almost all the time, my only exception of not voting Democrat were in 2009 when I voted for Slater and 2011 when I voted for Slater. A very nice guy and I do not have anything bad to say about him and I am a Democrat so that should tell you a lot. He always said hi to me when I voted at Black Rock.

  • Mojo

    *** donj, a devoted Dem. who’s color blind to red and white but always seems to see blue, no? *** EXPAND YOUR POLITICAL HORIZONS ***

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