Businesswomen Lead the Pack in 2010 Elections

Meg Whitman, Carly Fiorina, and Linda McMahon are just three of the women shaking things up this cycle.

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For one thing, the White House intends to run against greed on Wall Street, and Democratic candidates across the country are beating the same drums. If corporate America becomes the villain of the piece, business credentials could seem tainted by corporate excesses.

Then, too, the ghosts of businesses past could haunt the candidates. Already, critics belittle Fiorina for being pushed out of HP after William Hewlett, son of the company's cofounder, objected to her merger with Compaq, a leading competitor. Opponents are likewise assailing McMahon for WWE's one-time tendency to look the other way on steroid use. And Whitman has been pilloried for self-funding her campaign. But if biography is destiny, and character often trumps other factors in politics, their narratives could prove compelling.

On the campaign trail, millionaire McMahon is careful to remind voters that she and husband Vince at one point lost everything to bankruptcy. Rebuilding WWE into a $1 billion business listed on the New York Stock Exchange, McMahon now lives in tony Greenwich, where she surely annoys some of her neighbors by burnishing her tough-girl image. In a fit of moxie that Sarah Palin might envy, McMahon named her boat "Sexy Bitch." And embracing the shtick that first put Minnesota's Jesse Ventura on the political map, she once got into the wrestling ring (albeit in a business suit) and kicked an opponent in the crotch during a stunt for WWE. Though opponents have made liberal use of the clip, some McMahon supporters believe it is just the image that could appeal to voters this year.

  • See which industries give the most to Congress.
  • See a slide show of the women of the Senate.