With the aid of a brutal homophobic smear campaign, U.S. Congressman Richard Neal won his re-election to the United States Congress on Tuesday.
The race was called by the Associated Press with Neal holding a 60-40 advantage in the vote counting over Holyoke, Mass. Mayor Alex Morse, an out gay man. The Victory Fund condemned tactics deployed against Morse during the primary campaign.
“The efforts to sensationalize and weaponize Alex’s sexual orientation certainly influenced the outcome of this race, but the backlash it engendered should give pause to those considering similar tactics in the future,” said Annise Parker, President & CEO of LGBTQ Victory Fund. “We are grateful Alex stayed in the race and took the body blows necessary to expose the double standards too often placed on LGBTQ candidates. His campaign contributed to a larger conversation about how candidates of color, women candidates and LGBTQ candidates face a level of scrutiny and sensationalism that straight white cisgender men simply do not.”
Allegations of questionable conduct with students via online dating apps were part of a finely-tuned political hit job, The Victory Fund said in a press release. The UMass Amherst College Democrats attacked Morse using the old stereotype of gay men as pedophiles. The allegations were disproven, Parker said, but that didn’t stop “survey calls” to voters further pushing this tired old trope.
Parker said the attacks Morse suffered would not go unanswered going forward.
“LGBTQ candidates are facing a growing number of homophobic and transphobic attacks this year and whether they succeed or fail will set an important precedent for the future. While Alex’s loss is disappointing, it proved our community and our allies can respond forcefully in exposing the dog whistles and stereotypes that too often haunt LGBTQ candidates. We will not allow attacks on LGBTQ candidates to go unanswered during the final two months of this election cycle.”
In his concession speech, aired live on Zoom, Morse said, “I don’t have a single regret when I think about everything we fought for,” adding, “the fight continues.”
Morse said Neal, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, had access to multimillions from “corporations that are not looking out for you at all.”
Lee Fang, an investigative journalist with The Intercept, said the Democratic establishment smear campaign was a factor in this western Massachusetts district.
“The establishment successfully smeared Bernie out of the 2016 primary w/lies about him being a sexist w/ a ‘race problem,’” Fang tweeted. “The same tactic gets recycled w/ Alex Morse, slandered by partisans as a sex abuser. Easy to manipulate liberal voters w/ these defamatory woke tactics.”
Morse also addressed the attack ads on his personal life.
“We have to send a message loud and clear that these kinds of tactics in our community are unacceptable.”