Friday, May 21, 2010

Grandmother McClain's Tactic Backfiring

Grandmother Kathy McClain's campaign manager thought it was hilarious that I saw gay-baiting in her recent mailer snarking that her Nevada State Senate opponent Mark Manendo being never-married, 42, and having lived with his mom.

Ah, but that itty bitty line didn't just rub me and McKee the wrong way. It also prompted a spirited debate over whether to rescind the support of McClain by the committee that decides the joint endorsements of the city's two monthly GLBT publications, QVegas and Las Vegas Nightbeat, along with longtime gay activist and publisher Rob Schlegel. (McClain and Manendo received dual endorsements with a blurb: "Take your pick. Both are good on our issues.")

The committee ultimately decided to let the endorsements stand, but Nightbeat publisher Bill Schafer plans to run a piece in his June issue announcing that he's voting for Manendo because of this. In the letter, which he sent me, he quoted another committee member who said during the debate, "How unfortunate a tactic. The message should be sent that we won't stand for 'innuendo' or outright discrimination – ever! … Someone needs to stand up for what's right, so let's send the message." Other folks decided to give Grandmother McClain the benefit of the doubt given her gay-friendly voting record.

Schafer writes that Grandmother McClain campaign manager Gary Gray offered a mea culpa to Nightbeat after checking with gay activists to learn that, in fact, that verbage is well-known particularly by political operatives as code for, "Psst, he's a fag." Gray had told me that the inference he was trying to make was that Manendo is a sexual predator, a novel idea since I've never heard that being a 42-year-old single Momma's Boy was code for, "Psst, he's a rapist."

Gray never bothered to write or call me to apologize for ridiculing me for asking him about this in the first place, however, and Schafer isn't buying it. "If McClain’s top gun – who’s fought many a political battle – is that naïve, I’ll give my vote to her opponent," his piece for June concluded.

Grandmother McClain should be worried. This is, after all, the gayest district in the state and the only one to ever elect an openly gay person to anything. All other things being equal -- the two candidates have precisely the same record on GLBT matters -- gay voters are very sensitive to being slighted. And word gets around very, very fast.

By the by, I spoke to Manendo. He said he's straight, but more importantly, he said that he's been living in his own home for more than a decade. He did live with his mother for four years in the 1990s, he said, because his father was dying and he needed to help with the care. I wonder how Gray will spin that into some evil disqualification.


The Guy By The Door said...

And it so upsets me that Gary is the husband of Clark County Comissioner Chris G.

Love her, not him...