Sen. Joe Lieberman — an independent who reliably caucuses with the Democrats — is retiring, and his seat has long been seen as a rare safe hold in a challenging year for Senate Democrats. Rep. Chris Murphy, representing the most Republican part of a solidly blue state, won the Democratic nomination while Republicans went with the multimillionaire pro-wrestling magnate Linda McMahon, who lost the open 2010 race for Connecticut's other Senate seat, despite dumping more than $40 million of her fortune into the campaign. But McMahon is running a much better campaign this time around, and she has pulled even or slightly ahead of Murphy in some recent polls — providing, ironically, a rare bright spot for disheartened Senate Republicans.


Rep. Chris Murphy (D)
U.S. congressman since 2007
Age: 39

Linda McMahon (R)
Former CEO and co-founder of World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE)
Age: 64

The McMahon-Murphy contest has become pretty ugly and very expensive, with the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee forced to step in to help Murphy keep up with McMahon's self-funded ad onslaught. McMahon criticizes Murphy for missing congressional hearings and accuses him of getting a sweetheart deal on a home-equity loan — a charge he and the bank both deny. Murphy charges that McMahon's tax plan is lifted from conservative Washington groups far to the right of Connecticut — she says the plan is her own — and that on issues from women's rights to Medicare and Social Security, McMahon is too conservative for the state. Most electoral handicappers rate this race either as leaning Democratic or a tossup. "If this were a midterm election, [Murphy] would have real problems," says Real Clear Politics, but Obama's popularity in the Constitution State "is probably enough to push him through" in the general election.

Murphy: 44 percent
McMahon: 41 percent
(See the full data here.)

CASH ON HAND (as of July 25):
Murphy: $2.5 million on hand; $5.6 million total
McMahon: $2.4 million on hand; $14.1 million total (self-financing: $13.1 million)


Chris Murphy: "On Our Side"


Linda McMahon: "Independent"


More races at a glance:
Massachusetts Senate: Scott Brown vs. Elizabeth Warren
Nebraska Senate: Deb Fischer vs. Bob Kerrey
North Dakota Senate: Rick Berg vs. Heidi Heitkamp

Read more political coverage at The Week's 2012 Election Center.