[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/05/22/art.lmcmahona0522.gi.jpg caption="Connecticut Republicans are backing former wrestling executive Linda McMahon as their Senate nominee. McMahon was endorsed at a state GOP convention Friday night."]
(CNN) - Connecticut Republicans are backing former wrestling executive Linda McMahon as their Senate nominee. McMahon was endorsed at a state GOP convention Friday night.
"We are incredibly pleased with the growing momentum behind this campaign and the better-than-expected show of support we received from Republican leaders and activists around the state," said McMahon in a statement released by her campaign. "Elections are about contrast, and Connecticut Republicans today sent a clear and resounding message that they intend to challenge the Washington establishment and its hand-picked candidate with a political outsider."
But McMahon, who has spent tens of millions of her own money so far on her Senate bid, will still face a challenge for the Republican nomination in Connecticut's August 10 primary. Former Rep. Rob Simmons, who came in second in the endorsement battle, said he would challenge McMahon in the primary.
Businessman Peter Schiff, another GOP candidate, failed to capture enough votes at the convention to qualify for the primary, but indicated he might launch a petition effort to get his name on the August primary ballot.
Connecticut Democrats endorsed state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal as their Senate nominee. Blumenthal has been under scrutiny in the past week, after the New York Times reported that he distorted his military service. The article alleges that Blumenthal lied about serving in Vietnam and says that he never served in that war, even though the candidate has claimed he did in speeches before veterans groups and military families.
Last Tuesday Blumenthal acknowledged that he has not always accurately described his military service during the Vietnam War.
"On a few occasions I have misspoken about my service and I regret that and I take full responsibility," Blumenthal said while surrounded by Vietnam veterans at a news conference in West Hartford. "But I will not allow anyone to take a few misplaced words and impugn my record of service to our country."
Friday night, at the convention, Blumenthal acknowledged that "I have made mistakes," according to media reports, adding that "I regret them. And I have taken responsibility."
Polls conducted prior to the past week's controversy indicated that Blumenthal was ahead by a more than two-to-one margin in hypothetical general election matchups against all three GOP candidates.
Democratic candidate Merrick Alpert, a businessman, ended his bid for the Senate after trailing badly in the vote count for the party endorsement.
The race is to succeed Sen. Chris Dodd. The five-term Democratic senator announced in January that he would not run for re-election this year. Dodd had been considered one of the most vulnerable Democrats in this November's midterms.
Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter: @psteinhausercnn