By Russell Blair and Daniela Altimari
The Hartford Courant
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) SBA Nominee Linda McMahon is a mother of two and grandmother of six. She is a fiscally conservative Republican who embraces the party’s small-government ethos. In her two runs for Senate, she campaigned on a promise to bring fresh energy, a businesswoman’s savvy and an outsider’s common-sense approach to Washington.
The Hartford Courant
President-elect Donald Trump on Wednesday selected multimillionaire former wrestling CEO and two-time Republican U.S. Senate nominee Linda McMahon to run the Small Business Administration.
McMahon, 68, and her husband, WWE impresario Vince McMahon, have known Trump for years and have given millions to Trump’s foundation.
In a written statement, McMahon said she was honored to join an economic team that will “promote our country’s small businesses and help them grow and thrive.”
The SBA provides loans and other assistance to small businesses. Its administrator is a cabinet-level position and requires confirmation by the U.S. Senate.
“Linda is going to be a phenomenal leader and champion for small business and unleash America’s entrepreneurial spirit all across the country,” Trump said in a release issued by his transition team.
Before stepping down in 2010, McMahon presided over a global wrestling and entertainment empire, accumulating vast wealth in the process. But the early days of the company that became WWE were challenging: In 1976, following a series of bad investments, including a money-losing deal to simulcast motorcycle daredevil Evel Knievel’s jump across the Snake River Canyon in Idaho, the couple filed for bankruptcy.
Trump credited McMahon with helping to grow the Stamford-based WWE “from a modest 13-person operation to a publicly traded global enterprise with more than 800 employees in offices worldwide.”
McMahon, who lives in Greenwich, visited Trump Tower last week. “Anytime … the president-elect of the United States asks you to come in for a conversation, you’re happy to do that,” she said afterward. “We talked about business and entrepreneurs and creating jobs … we had a really good conversation.”
Following the announcement, McMahon tweeted: “Honored to be appointed by President-Elect [Trump] to serve as head of [SBA] advocating for our small businesses & entrepreneurs!”
McMahon spent $100 million of her personal fortune on unsuccessful campaigns against Democrats Richard Blumenthal in 2010 and Chris Murphy in 2012. Both campaigns were marked by their nastiness.
But on Wednesday, after Trump announced her nomination, both Murphy and Blumenthal praised their former Republican opponent.
“Linda McMahon’s a talented and experienced businessperson, there’s no doubt about it,” Murphy said. “She helped shepherd the WWE from a mere idea into an incredibly successful enterprise. Of course I know firsthand what a fierce fighter Linda McMahon is, and though we haven’t always seen eye to eye, I have confidence she’ll bring that fight to the SBA on behalf of Connecticut small businesses.”
Blumenthal called her “a person of serious accomplishment and ability.”
McMahon “can help create jobs by helping small businesses, as long as she is not hamstrung by the dangerous economic policies espoused by other Trump-nominated cabinet officials,” Blumenthal added. “The Trump administration needs a sane and stable source of economic leadership. Small businesses are among our most important job creators, and they need support.”
After her losses, McMahon remained involved in Republican politics, and this year contributed $6 million to a pro-Trump super PAC. State GOP chairman J.R. Romano applauded the decision.
“I think it’s awesome,” he said. “Knowing Linda the way I do, I think she’ll do a tremendous job. … We’re thrilled she’s going to be there. I think she’s going to bring a tremendous amount of knowledge to the position. I think it’s a very smart pick by president-elect Trump.”
The McMahons also gave $5 million to the Donald J. Trump Foundation during a period of time when Trump made several appearances on WWE programming. The president-elect is a member of the WWE Hall of Fame.
Linda McMahon initially backed New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s presidential campaign, and was critical of Trump. She called some of the comments he made about women “over the top,” “deplorable” and “objectionable.”
But McMahon also served as a delegate for Trump at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland in July and met with him backstage when he held a rally in August at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield. McMahon is vice-chairwoman of the university’s board of trustees.
The mother of two and grandmother of six, McMahon is a fiscally conservative Republican who embraces the party’s small-government ethos. In her two runs for Senate, she campaigned on a promise to bring fresh energy, a businesswoman’s savvy and an outsider’s common-sense approach to Washington.
Her critics focused on wrestling’s darker side: allegations of steroid and painkiller abuse, reports of neurological damage suffered by wrestlers, sexist behavior in the ring and the number of performers who have died prematurely. She lost both races by about 12 percentage points.
McMahon’s only previous government position was an appointment to the Connecticut State Board of Education in 2009. She served a little over one year.
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