BY Kenneth R. Bazinet
DAILY NEWS WASHINGTON BUREAU
WASHINGTON - Rookie pol and pro-wrestling tycoon Linda McMahon body-slammed two rivals Tuesday night to coast to an easy victory in Connecticut's GOP Senate primary.
The founding partner of the WWE wrestling league was declared the winner, garnering an insurmountable 49% of the vote with more than half the precincts reporting. [See a slide show of 11 hot races to watch in November.]
Former U.S. Rep. Rob Simmons had 29%, and financial commentator Peter Schiff followed with 22%.
A one-time front-runner, Simmons couldn't keep up with McMahon's television ad buys - she pumped some $50 million of her own money into the race - and last spring shelved his bid to fill the seat being vacated by retiring Sen. Chris Dodd.
McMahon also tapped into the conservative anti-government Tea Party movement to help her gain traction and catapult her to the top of the polls.
Schiff trailed McMahon and Simmons during nearly the entire campaign.
The winner takes on state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, who was unopposed in the Democratic Senate primary.
In Colorado, Sen. Michael Bennet defeated former state House Speaker Andrew Romanoff in the Colorado Democratic Senate primary, which had become a proxy war between President Obama and ex-President Bill Clinton, who backed opposing candidates. [See who donates the most money to Bennet's campaign.]
Obama was behind Bennet, appointed last year when Ken Salazar resigned to become Obama's interior secretary. Clinton endorsed Romanoff, who backed Hillary Clinton in her 2008 presidential bid.
There was another behind-the-scenes battle in Georgia, where former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin endorsed ex-Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel for governor. Late last night the race between Handel and ex-Rep. Nathan Deal for the GOP nomination was too close to call, with both candidates claiming 50% of the vote.