Martin is one of five candidates in the Republican primary to fill the seat being vacated by Sen. Roland Burris, the laughingstock seat-warmer appointed by disgraced former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevitch to fill Pres. Barack Obama’s seat last year.
The GOP front-runner is Rep. Mark Kirk, who has a long legislative record and who serves as a Naval intelligence officer. On Monday, Martin successfully changed the dynamics of the race when he released a radio ad in which he claimed that Kirk is gay. You can listen to the ad here, and here is the transcript:
ANDY MARTIN: I’m Andy Martin, Republican candidate for United States Senator. I approve this message because Illinois Republicans deserve the truth about their candidates.
I have over 40 years of experience and integrity fighting corruption and fighting for the truth in politics. I helped expose many of Barack Obama’s lies in 2008.
Today I am fighting for the facts about Mark Kirk. Illinois Republican leader Jack Roeser says there is a solid rumor that Kirk is a homosexual. Roeser suggests that Kirk is part of a Republican Party homosexual club. Lake County Illinois Republican leader Ray True says Kirk has surrounded himself with homosexuals.
Mark Kirk should tell Republican voters the truth.
I’m Andy Martin, a Republican you can trust, for United States Senator. Please vote for Andy Martin.
ANNOUNCER: Paid for by Illinois Republicans for Andy Martin.
When a reporter called Rep. Kirk’s office to get a response, Kirk’s spokesman said the congressman would not be able to comment because Kirk was on active duty with the Naval Reserves over the holidays. Speaking on Kirk’s behalf, the spokesman said, “The ad is not true and is degrading to the political process. The people of Illinois deserve better.”
On a purely political level, if Kirk is gay, or even if questions about his sexuality become a dominant issue in the GOP primary, he will lose to an arguably weaker Republican candidate. That candidate will not be his accuser, Andy Martin, however. This guy’s credibility is less than zero. Here’s some background on Martin from his Wikipedia page:
His 1996 run for the Florida State Senate came undone when it was revealed that he had named his campaign committee for his 1986 congressional run “The Anthony R. Martin-Trigona Congressional Campaign to Exterminate Jew Power in America.” The revelation led the state Republican Party to renounce him. Just before the election, he assaulted two cameramen from WPTV, the NBC affiliate in West Palm Beach. He was convicted of criminal mischief and sentenced to a year in jail. He was freed pending appeal, but made personal attacks on the judge while on the way out of the courtroom. The judge held Martin in criminal contempt of court and sentenced him to seven months in jail. However, he was mistakenly let out of jail after only a month. Martin never returned, and a warrant was issued for his arrest. The warrant was still outstanding at least as of the time of Martin’s 2008 Senate run, but he said the issue is being “resolved.”
During his 2000 run for president, he ran a television advertisement in Connecticut accusing George W. Bush of using cocaine. In 2003, after several visits to Iraq he claimed he was 90 percent certain he knew where Saddam Hussein was hiding and put in a claim for the $25 million reward on offer for the former Iraqi dictator’s capture.
According to Martin’s Wikipedia page, prior to the 2004 Democratic National Convention, Martin issued a press release claiming that keynote speaker Barack Obama was lying about his religion. Obama was really a Muslim, Martin said, a fact he was hiding “to endanger Israel.” (The lie that Obama was a Muslim was picked up by Swiftboater Jerome Corsi, who repeated it in his 2008 book, “Obama Nation.”)
In October 2008, in an interview on CNN, Martin dropped the charge that Obama was a Muslim, says Wikipedia, alleging instead that Obama was really the son of Frank Marshall Davis, a journalist who worked in Hawaii in the 1940s and 1950s, and who was accused by the House Un-American Activities Committee of being a commie.
Martin had come up with this wild idea while on a visit to Honolulu. In an effort to confirm that Davis was really Obama’s father, he requested a copy of Obama’s birth certificate.
On October 17, 2008, Martin filed a lawsuit in a state circuit court of Hawaii against Gov. Linda Lingle and health department director Dr. Chiyome Fukino, seeking to verify the state’s official birth certificate of Barack Obama. Martin was quoted as saying, “I want to see a certified copy issued by the state of Hawaii, not one issued by the state of Obama.”
On November 19, the court denied Martin’s “emergency motion” and dismissed the lawsuit on the grounds of Martin’s lack of legal standing to obtain another person’s birth document.
Earlier this month, Martin filed suit against Wikipedia claiming it is “protosocialist” (whatever that is) and a tax-exempt wing of Pres. Obama’s political operations. According to Martin’s Wikipedia page, he filed the suit while he was in New York for the “Second National Conference on Barack Obama’s Missing Birth Certificate and College Records.”
Mark Kirk was elected to the House in 2001. Before that, he practiced law and once worked on the staff of the House member whose district he now represents. He also served as a counsel on the House International Relations Committee. He has a master’s degree from the London School of Economics.
It happens that his marriage of eight years ended in divorce earlier this year. However, his ex-wife has wholeheartedly endorsed his run for the Senate.
Steve Benen at Washington Monthly notes that Kirk has been taking fire from the right over his moderate record, including support for gay rights — with one glaring exception:
His decision to vote for a cap-and-trade bill in June, for example, led to widespread outrage in conservative circles. (Kirk has since changed his mind and now opposes the bill he voted for.)
The Illinois Republican is also known for moderation on social issues, most notably gay rights. Kirk, for example, was the lead GOP co-sponsor on an expanded hate-crimes bill, and is on record supporting the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. This, of course, is also anathema to the Republican Party’s base.
But Kirk has apparently been reading the tea leaves, so to speak, and sees that his party is moving to the extreme right, which brings us to the glaring exception in his support for gay equality:
Considering the fine line he’s walking, it’s no wonder Kirk hasn’t been outspoken regarding his views on the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) policy. Last month, a spokesman for the congressman commented briefly on the subject, saying that Kirk “agrees with President Clinton’s policy.” He did not note that the former president has since argued that “this policy should be changed.”
[Later] Kirk offered slightly more on his position:
He supports continuing the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy on gays serving in the military.
“I think it’s worked out well,” he said. “Keeping that all out of the workplace makes common sense.”
But there’s not much evidence that DADT has “worked out well.” To the contrary, the facts indicate the policy is hurting the military:
Since 1994, the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy has resulted in the discharge of more than 13,000 military personnel across the services including approximately 800 with skills deemed ‘mission critical,’ such as pilots, combat engineers and linguists. These are the very specialties for which the military has faced personnel shortfalls in recent years.
In the Democratic primary, one of the candidates, attorney Jacob Meister, is openly gay. Meister reacted to Martin’s ad and, particularly, Kirk’s stand on DADT:
“I listened to the radio commercial and I am shocked that in 2009, anyone could spew that kind of hatred on the airwaves,” Meister said. “The voters have to call him out on it and the other candidates have to call him out on it.”
…Meister also noted that Kirk is an officer in the Navy Reserves. If it turns out he is gay, he will have to be discharged from the military under the current “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy that Kirk supports and which Meister opposes. Meister says the military has investigated the sexual orientation of service members based on information as seemingly unreliable as the Martin claim.
But in the military, all it takes a rumor to trigger a DADT investigation. As one gay blogger put it:
Meister is right. Rumors have served as the basis for investigations into the private lives of members of the military — and ruined many careers. It’s going to be hard for the military to avoid such a high-profile outing of a military official. Perhaps this is one way for Mark Kirk to find out for sure if DADT has, in fact, “worked out well.”
Now the question is, will the military look into gay rumors about a sitting Republican House member who’s running for the U.S. Senate?
Oh — and one item in Mark Kirk’s bio seems to have escaped the notice of Andy Martin and Kirk’s tea bagger critics. According to his Wikipedia page, he’s a member of the United Church of Christ, which is the denomination of the Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, the former church of the Obamas and the controversial pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright.