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Category: WWE

[UPDATED] WWE's Linda McMahon resigns to run for Senate against Dodd

Updated: Economist Peter Schiff is also weighing a run as a Republican for Dodd's seat.

Maybe The Rock and Triple H will serve as campaign managers.

Linda McMahon, the chief executive officer of World Wrestling Entertainment Inc., announced today she is resigning to run for Senate in her home state of Connecticut. McMahon, a Republican, will look to unseat Democrat Christopher Dodd in the 2010 election.

MCMAHON Although not nearly as flamboyant as her husband -- WWE Chairman and ringmaster Vince McMahon -- Linda McMahon is considered the brains behind the brawn. She has been CEO of WWE since 1997 and is respected on Wall Street. She and her husband have been focusing on making over WWE from a raunch-fest to more family-friendly entertainment, albeit a family that likes to throw each other around a ring and talk in double entendres (for more on how the WWE has been repositioning itself, read our Aug. 24 story). Whether the move toward kinder, gentler wrestling was in part motivated by her political aspirations remains to be seen, but it probably won't hurt.

With deep pockets and a fairly established presence in the state, McMahon could be a force in the race. According to the The Hill, a Washington political publication, McMahon's potential opponents for the Republican nomination are former U.S. Rep. Rob Simmons, economist Peter Schiff and former Ambassador to Ireland Tom Foley. Interestingly, former Connecticut governor and Sen. Lowell Weicker is on the WWE's board of directors.

Inside the WWE, McMahon's exit comes as the company is in the midst of an expansion. Vince McMahon, who will assume his wife's CEO position, indicated last month that he wants to launch a cable network and is also pushing harder to make more movies with his stable of wrestling talent.

-- Joe Flint

Photo: Linda McMahon. Credit: Linda McMahon for Senate.

WWE's Vince McMahon wants to launch cable network

Vince McMahon's World Wrestling Entertainment Inc., wants to start its own cable network.

In an interview with Company Town, McMahon said he wants to launch the channel within the next two years and that he will pitch it as a network for the basic tier, which is the hardest one to get carriage on.

MCMAHON Launching a cable network is just the latest push in McMahon's effort to remake the WWE. For years, WWE programming was a tough sell to advertisers and families because of its raunchy nature and sexual innuendo. Now he's pushing a softer, gentler WWE. For more on his strategy, please read our story in today's Los Angeles Times.

Although this may not seem like the most ideal time to try to get a  network off the ground, McMahon's WWE has a pretty strong track record that cable and satellite operators will find hard to ignore. Whatever one thinks of WWE content, it does attract a big audience. USA Network's "Raw," for example, averages 5.5 million viewers and all of the WWE's shows on broadcast and cable combined average 16 million viewers per week. WWE is also starting bringing in more blue chip advertisers, including AT&T, Pepisco and Procter & Gamble. 

McMahon is also a force on pay-per-view. WWE does about 14 pay-per-view events annually that attract anywhere from 500,000 to 1.4 million buys. In other words, he has some juice with distributors. With a library of over 100,000 hours of programming, he's not lacking for content.

"We have a lot of clout that most people don't," McMahon said. While WWE wants its own network, McMahon said he has no plans to take "Raw" off of USA or move any of his other properties.

"It won't be a threat, it'll be an integration," he said, adding, "it's good for `RAW' to be on USA." Of course, McMahon also knows it will also help him in negotiations with his partners. "Having your own network allows you a lot of leverage."

-- Joe Flint

Photo: WWE Chairman Vince McMahon. Credit: WWE

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