October 5, 2010

Anti-gay fliers not mine, says GOP pick

Return address belongs to D.C.-based lobbying group

By Doug Harlow
Staff Writer

SKOWHEGAN -- The Republican candidate for House District 85 says anti-gay fliers supporting his candidacy may do him more harm than good.

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Brian Hale

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Rep. Jeffrey McCabe

Brian Hale, pastor of the Skowhegan Church of the Nazarene, said the campaign literature, which first began appearing in mailboxes last week, is being sent by a national organization and not by his campaign. Hale is challenging incumbent Rep. Jeffrey McCabe, a Democrat from Skowhegan, for a two-year term in the Maine House of Representatives.

The two-sided flier features a smiling family of four with a "Welcome to Maine, the way life should be" placard and a single photograph of Hale. Hale said the family in the picture is not even his family.

On the flip side of the flier is a photograph of McCabe, with his e-mail address and two men in bow ties, arm-in-arm, appearing atop a wedding cake.

"Now it's time to let Jeff McCabe know we don't agree with his decision to back same-sex marriage," the flier reads.

McCabe voted for the 2009 law legalizing same-sex marriage. The legislation, which was signed by Gov. John Baldacci, was reversed by referendum last November.

Hale says he supports traditional marriage, meaning a union between a man and a woman, but said his campaign did not send the fliers.

"I think this is tasteless; I'm not enjoying this," Hale said Monday. "I think this is an incidence of friendly fire -- someone thought they were helping me and they're not. I'm running as a fiscal conservative -- that's what I'm going around talking to people about. I'm not running an anti-gay campaign. The first time that I heard anything about this or its contents is when I pulled it out of my mailbox."

Hale said he showed the flier to his wife and daughters and they agreed that it was inappropriate. His 16-year-old daughter Hanna called it "really creepy," he said.

"People are thinking I am the one who put this out," Hale said. "I can see how one might understand that -- it has my photo on it and my e-mail address, both of which I believe were pulled off the Internet. People are seeing this and saying, 'Pastor Hale is a homophobe' -- and I'm not."

McCabe, the executive director of Lake George Regional Park, said on Monday that he had received a telephone call from Hale saying he had no knowledge of the fliers going to Skowhegan households. McCabe said he also got a call from Chris Perkins, chairman of the local Republican Party, saying the party does not support that type of campaign.

"I think that mailer had some hateful tones to it, absolutely," McCabe said. "I think it's hurtful. I think the message is definitely hate-filled. For me, I'm pretty proud of my record. I support same-sex marriage; for me it's more of an issue of equal rights."

Hale said his campaign literature has the state-mandated "paid for and authorized by the committee to elect Brian Hale," while the fliers do not. The return address on the fliers is for the National Organization for Marriage, based in Washington D.C., a group that opposes same-sex marriage.

"I never heard of the National Organization for Marriage until I pulled it out the mail box," Hale said.

Calls placed to the group's director, Brian Brown, on Monday were not returned. Messages left for spokeswoman Mary Beth Hutchins at the organization's headquarters also were not returned.

Doug Harlow -- 474-9534

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