Nov. 2, 2010 — -- Up against the the largest self-financed Senate campaign in history, ABC News projects Democrat Richard Blumenthal will win the Connecticut Senate race, based on the exit poll, keeping blue a vulnerable but long-time Democrat seat.
Connecticut was one of three crucial races -- along with Pennsylvania and West Virginia -- that Republicans' had targeted for victory in order to wrest control of the Senate from the Democrats. In addition to Connecticut, Democrats early on retained their seats in Delaware, Maryland, Vermont and West Virginia.
Blumenthal, 64, the state's attorney general, successfully weathered a barrage of attack ads funded by the deep pockets of Republican challenger Linda McMahon, the former CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment and wife of WWE founder Vince McMahon.
McMahon made a record-setting $50 million contribution of her personal fortune to her campaign and gave the Democrat -- particularly early on -- a surprisingly difficult run.
In his acceptance speech Tuesday night, Blumenthal said he would make "people a priority" and work to give the middle class a tax cut.
"Tonight, I reach out to every person in Connecticut, Republican, Democrat and Independent," he said. "There are very, very difficult challenges ahead... We have to put middle class families first, that means middle class tax cuts now."
Conceding the race, McMahon said she "promised [Blumenthal] my support" and pledged to continue to work on job creation in Connecticut.
"Don't think I'm going to stop pushing to make jobs," she said, adding, "I'm not going to fade into the woodwork, you'll probably see me around."
Blumenthal donated $2 million of his own money to his campaign.
Blumenthal will replace Democratic Sen. Chris Dodd, who has held his seat since 1981. Dodd chose not to seek a sixth term in January amid falling poll numbers in the wake of the financial crisis.
Bucking the national trend, Democrats turned out as strongly as in previous years in Connecticut, accounting for 40 percent of voters. Despite running against a woman, Blumenthal won women by a vast 60 to 39 percent.
Blumenthal appeared most vulnerable after a recording obtained by the McMahon campaign suggested he had embellished his Vietnam wartime service record.
The Democrat, who served in the Marine Corps reserves from 1965 to 1970 but never went overseas, later apologized for having said "I served in Vietnam" in a 2008 speech.
Of the gaffe, Blumenthal said: "I misspoke."
Blumenthal pulled well ahead of McMahon in the polls in recent weeks after he began running ads accusing her of being a bad CEO who mistreated workers and peddled raunchy programs to young people.
Blumenthal received an eleventh hour boost over the weekend, appearing at rallies with both President Obama a former President Bill Clinton.
Richard Blumenthal Projected to Win Connecticut Seat
In a long and contentious race, both campaigns took their grievances to the federal level in recent weeks.
In a complaint with the Federal Election Commission, state Democrats accused the McMahon camp of allowing the WWE to run a shadow campaign, holding events and running its own ground game. The WWE in turn sued the state, and won, after an elections official said poll workers could ask voters to remove shirts bearing WWE logos when they arrived at polling places.