Monday, May 17, 2010

McClain's Defense: He's Not Gay, He's A Perv!

The campaign manager for Grandmother Kathy McClain just called to laugh at my interpretation of a flier attacking her Nevada Senate opponent, Mark Manendo, in terms that every politically aware gay knows have been used since time immemorial to imply that someone is queer. To review, here's what it said:

Silly, over-sensitive me and McKee. Grandmother McClain wasn't calling him a fag, said campaign manager Gary Gray, she was implying -- wait for it -- he's a "sexual predator!" This mailer is a precursor, Gray said, to a coming set of mailers that will attack Manendo on an alleged history of sexual misconduct at the Legislature. When I asked for specifics, Gray referred to one incident involving two aides to then-Assemblywoman Dawn Gibbons during the 2003 Legislative session.

But Gray said there was a "long history" and a "pattern," so I asked for other incidents. He could not come up with any, owing to, he said, the fact that victims are too scared to come forward. So poor Mr. Manendo doesn't only have to deal with an unproved incident 7 years ago but also must defend himself against nameless, possibly fictitious accusers, too? [I've left messages for Manendo but have yet to hear back.]

Grandmother McClain's campaign manager kept telling me to ask around and to check out what others who have covered the Legislature, such as Jon Ralston, Steve Sebelius and Ed Vogel, have written.

I did so. And what I learned, per a 2004 Review-Journal column by Sebelius, was that Manendo's "sexual predator" campaign amounted, so far as he could tell, to the then-assemblyman clumsily asking a couple of babes out. That column, incidentally, was Sebelius' way of sticking up for Manendo against a campaign flier in he thought was inappropriate. The salient passage:

The first flier, however, is unfair. On one page, it carries "an important message to the women of District 18 on sexual assault." On the facing page, aside a picture of Manendo, we learn: "This assemblyman wants to be re-elected but what he doesn't want you to know about is ... charges and allegations of sexual harassment while serving in the Legislature."

Get it? "Sexual assault" becomes "sexual harassment" just like that. But Manendo has never been accused of anything beyond graceless advances and crude comments. Sexual assault is a far more serious thing, and conflating the two is a cheap and tawdry campaign trick.

In Sept. 2003, Ralston did take the Democratic leadership in a piece about their inability to punish members of their caucus who misbehaved. I found it because Gray specifically said that Ralston "even referred to the 'leering Mark Manendo.' "

Here's the part about that:

Then again, these are the same folks who allowed a leering assemblyman named Mark Manendo to prosper, even promoting him to a prominent chairmanship (Government Affairs) and refusing to do anything even after they received complaints.

Manendo lost his chairmanship in the next session and never got another one despite his seniority, but was never formally disciplined. Still, he seems to have suffered even as he's steadfastly denied throughout that he ever did anything wrong.

As for Vogel, he wrote an April 26, 2010 piece about the McClain-Manendo race in which he recounted this one singular instance of possible sexual harrassment. And then there was this:

"Nothing will be said by me about Mr. Manendo's missteps," McClain said. "He votes with our caucus 99 percent of the time and so do I. I have been in leadership."

While she insists she won't make it an issue, McClain hopes someone tells voters why Manendo no longer chairs any committees.

Grandmother McClain's hopin' and wishin' have made it happen! Except that that "someone" turns out to be her via her own campaign manager, who just told me, straight out, that Manendo is a perv and that the campaign has a series of fliers coming our way all about what a perv he is.

Interestingly, Grandmother McClain rang me back, too. She just didn't know until I told her that Gray had called me. "I'm sorry that it's being interpreted that way," she said, regarding the notion that she was gay-baiting.

Friess: So what did that passage mean?

Grandmother McClain: "He’s lived with his mom and he can’t hold a stable relationship. I am a much more stable person, much more."

Friess: And you're more qualified to be a senator because you're married?

Grandmother McClain: No, no, that's not why I'm more qualified. I was just pointing out our differences.

Friess: But Gary Grey just told me that it was a lead-in to a series of fliers about his alleged past. So I'm trying to understand how the fact that he's never married and lives with his mother is related to these other allegations.

Grandmother McClain: Who do you write for again?

Friess: Oh, I write for lots of different folks, but this is for my blog.

Grandmother McClain: Oh, I see. Well, then, you said you were in touch with Gary Gray? Then I'm going to let you deal with Gary Gray.


Boy, can't wait to see those campaign fliers. (Did I forget, Grandmother McClain, to mention I live in your district?) Something tells me Grandmother McClain's campaign won't be quoting the part of the Sebelius piece that refers to this as "a cheap and tawdry campaign trick."


Anonymous said...


How about Jon Ralston calling Manendo "unfit for office."

detroit1051 said...

Your elections are as bad as Florida's.

Anonymous said...

Despite your sensitivity to the way the campaign have portrayed Mark Manendo, it is rather tame. It won't be regarded as anything more than a passing glance. As for gay baiting in itself, I'm waiting for him to come out. Only when he does, will it matter, then it could only help if the voters are sympathetic. I think voters are much more concerned about the economy and healthcare this year.

atdnext said...

OK, I guess this is what I get for being in Green Valley! Whoa, have I missed out on this doozie!

OK, maybe I don't feel so bad on missing out on this hot mess of a primary. What was Kathy McClain thinking? Did she really think she could win over DEMOCRATIC primary voters by lobbing all these personal attacks on Mark Manendo?

Oh, and btw I have no horse in this race. Manendo didn't really impress me when I ran into him one time at the Henderson Democratic Club (and for some reason, he hasn't been back since), and McClain has been pretty much invisible to me during this entire campaign. Right now, both of them should thank their lucky stars that the 7th District is so strongly Democratic.

Bonnie said...

Steve, your post from Ralston is funny. Why? Because one of the two county employees fired for double dipping was --- KATHY McCLAIN.

Take a strike at Manendo and hit McClain too. Hilarious!

Here's an article on the double dipping scandal:

(There are also articles in the RJ, but given their propensity to litigate, I didn't want to risk posting anything from that paper.)