Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Grandmother McClain drama continues

Today's Las Vegas Sun delved into the drama I've been observing between Grandmother Kathy McClain and her opponent for State Senate, Mark Manendo, in a district that includes my house. Both are Democrats with nearly identical records in the state Assembly and they're duking it out in advance of the June 8 primary.

But the piece by David McGrath Schwartz was odd, writing precisely what McClain's campaign manager, Gary Gray, has been trying to get the media to write without applying much in the way of little critical or logical thought. (It did, however, reference this blog.)

Recall that I found it weird that McClain sent out a May 17 mailer that took note of that fact that Manendo is 42, single and "has lived with his mother for long periods of time." That is well-known code for a whisper campaign suggesting Manendo is gay and, as I wrote last week, even prompted the group that issues endorsements based on GLBT issues to debate whether to pull their support of McClain. Gray has said he didn't know which may be true but, if so, reflects an ignorance of sexual identity politics that is, in and of itself, derelict.

Schwartz didn't bother with any of that, even though the tacit gay-bashing is the talk of the heavily gay district that is also the only one to ever have elected an openly gay person to anything in Nevada.

No, no such analysis. He also ignores the fact that the alternative explanation for that line on the mailer -- that Manendo may have a history of sexual harassing women -- makes absolutely no sense at all. Aren't you just dying to find out from McClain or Gray to explain when being a 42-year-old, single Momma's boy began being viewed as stereotypical of sexual harassers? Schwartz cares not. (He's 43, too, by the way.)

But the Sun piece does something even worse. It contains this:

His reputation in the state capital is far different. Interviews with lobbyists, lawmakers and staff point to a pattern of inappropriate behavior toward females in junior positions.

“Every session there has been some type of incident with sexual harassment that leadership has to talk to him about,” said one senior Democrat, speaking on the condition of anonymity. “The problem is that no one is willing to take the next step and file a formal complaint.”

During the 2009 Legislature, Manendo was privately reprimanded by Democratic leadership for a comment he made to a state worker.

The worker declined to comment for this story, fearing repercussions if Manendo returns to Carson City in the Senate. But according to a number of sources with knowledge of the incident, Manendo told the woman in vulgar terms that he found sexual gratification in viewing photos of her.

This is just really, really ugly stuff. It's so ugly, in fact, that McClain's campaign this afternoon started calling district residents and reading that damning anonymous quote to them in an automated message.

As a journalist, I love a juicy anonymous remark as much as the next guy. But this is such a grave allegation that I'm not sure it can be described as anything other than journalistic malpractice to allow it fly anonymously. If someone thinks there's this systematic a problem, they have to take responsibility for saying so. Schwartz can't get one SINGLE person amid his unspecified number of sources to step out of the shadows? The Las Vegas Sun is in the business of printing anonymous allegations of criminal activity -- which the accused cannot possibly disprove -- in the heat of a campaign this bitter and ignoring the political motivations of those who make them?

The worker who claims she was the subject of the untoward remark is especially baffling. She's already told everybody who will listen about it, but she's withholding her name because she's afraid Manendo may take revenge? Uh, hello. If Manendo actually did this, HE KNOWS HER NAME. Wouldn't she be safer from repercussions if her name were known so the public, the media and fellow lawmakers will know if something bad happens to her or her lobbying firm at Manendo's hand? Schwartz is oblivious to this spectacular logic fail, too.

Look, it's possible Manendo is a letch. Totally. But when a campaign begins this series of attacks by using irrelevant, gay-baiting language, it's hard not to think that really, they're so desperate they hope anything -- no matter how deceitful -- might save them. You know what I've not received from either Manendo or McClain? A mailer outlining how she'd address the budget crisis or how he'd improve education or anything else of substance.

One more thing. Grandmother McClain has said she believes she's more stable than Manendo because she's married with kids and grandkids. But guess what? According to her own bio, she was also single when she was 42. In fact, she was divorced and single until she was 50!

Gulp! What should we read into THAT?


atdnext said...

I'm just glad I'm NOT in SD 7. This whole race became a giant hot mess. It seems Manendo does have a troubled history, but McClain's record is also far from perfect. And at this point, the Nevada Senate Dems are probably just breathing a sigh of relief that Dems have a 17% registration edge in this district. This race is a hot mess, and it just makes me grateful I have two great State Senators who work hard for my 'hood in Carson City. :-)

briguyx said...

Actually the unnamed worker saying she can't make a comment because she is afraid of repercussions is making a comment by saying that...