Who would gay-bait Michaud? How and why I changed some wording

Dear readers, you have my pledge that, if I make a mistake, I will correct it quickly and openly.

In my latest column, now on-line a few hours, I discussed likely elements of the coming campaign for Gov. LePage’s re-election.

At one point, I mentioned the attacks to come against Rep. Michaud from various groups. Given the breakdown in public views on Michaud’s sexual orientation, some ads would subtly reference gay men.

When writing, I had thought to myself that gay-baiting attacks would not come from the LePage campaign organization but from dark money groups, like those Karl Rove has been involved with. In 2004, Rove used state same-sex marriage ballot questions as a means of mobilizing voters for George W. Bush. In fact, Rove has a long history of gay-baiting and whisper campaigns, going back decades.

However, the original version of the column did not say that clearly. After Jason Savage of the Maine Republican Party told me he thought my statement was offensive, I took a look, decided he had a good point and revised it to better reflect what I had been thinking. For not being as clear as I could have been, I apologize.

At the same time, given the history of Rove and some other operatives in the Republican Party nationally, I continue to think that gay-baiting certainly could happen in the 2014 campaign.

A little over two years ago Maine Republican Party Chair Charlie Webster was behind a gay-baiting ad in the campaign against restoring Election Day registration. Today’s Maine Republican Party, headed by the highly professional Rick Bennett, is quite unlikely to do something similar.

Note: The old version was on-line for a few hours. The new version will be in print and has replaced the old version on-line.

For your reference, here is the old and new versions of the relevant paragraph and the paragraph preceding it, with the changes bolded:

Old: Numerous polls show that Michaud is seen more favorably than the other candidates and so various Republican groups will endeavor to tear him down. Whether the ads come from the Republican Governors Association, the Republican National Committee, the LePage campaign or other sources, they’ll slam Michaud and try to remake his image.

And, while most Mainers say that Michaud’s decision to come out doesn’t make any difference, slightly more say this makes it less likely for them to support him than say their support is now more likely. So we can expect ads that subtly reference Michaud’s sexual orientation. He’ll be called a San Francisco Democrat, and shown in poses and labeled with words evoking gay stereotypes. When others call this out, they’ll bring more attention to the issue and will be called too sensitive.

New: Numerous polls show that Michaud is seen more favorably than the other candidates and so various Republican groups will endeavor to tear him down. Whether the ads come from the Republican Governors Association, the Republican National Committee, the LePage campaign or other sources, they’ll slam Michaud and try to remake his image.

And, while most Mainers say that Michaud’s decision to come out doesn’t make any difference, slightly more say this makes it less likely for them to support him than say their support is now more likely. So it wouldn’t be surprising for a dark money group, but not the LePage campaign organization, to run ads that subtly reference Michaud’s sexual orientation. He’d be called a San Francisco Democrat, and shown in poses and labeled with words evoking gay stereotypes. When others call this out, they’ll bring more attention to the issue and will be called too sensitive.

Note: This post has been edited, with additional examples added on gay-baiting in campaigns.

Amy Fried

About Amy Fried

Amy Fried loves Maine's sense of community and the wonderful mix of culture and outdoor recreation. She loves politics in three ways: as an analytical political scientist, a devoted political junkie and a citizen who believes politics matters for people's lives.