A perennial candidate with a dubious background, who is running for President Obama's former Senate seat in Illinois, is accusing opponent Mark Kirk of being gay. Andy Martin made his claim in a radio ad.
Rep. Kirk is running against Martin and four others for the Republican nomination for the seat. Kirk is far ahead in the polls -- he has 41%, compared to a combined 13% for his opponents. Martin clocks in with just 2%.
The ad ran Monday on at least two radio stations. The ad said there is a "solid rumor that Kirk is a homosexual," a comment Martin attributed to conservative Republican businessman Jack Roeser. Martin's ad also claimed that local conservative leader Raymond True said Kirk has surrounded himself with homosexuals.
In a telephone interview with the Chicago Tribune, True said that he "never made that statement." True said he appeared recently on a show hosted by Roeser and "I made a comment not about him (Kirk) at all, but that there were some people on his (Kirk's) staff that had a special orientation."
"I never said Mark was a homosexual and there's no evidence to that fact."
Roeser was not available for comment. But on a podcast on Roeser's Web site, he does say of Kirk that there is "a solid rumor is that he himself is homosexual."
Eric Elk, the campaign manager for Kirk, said in a statement that "the ad is not true and is degrading to the political process. The people of Illinois deserve better."
As for Martin, he has run for various offices over the years, all failures. The Tribune reports he has been sanctioned in federal court for filing hundreds of lawsuits, and was found unfit to practice law by the Illinois Supreme Court. He has previously used the airwaves to attack political opponents, including presidential candidates George W. Bush and President Obama.
He's also known for his anti-Semitic views. In federal court filings from the 1980s related to bankruptcy proceedings against him, Martin called one federal judge a "crooked, slimy Jew, who has a history of lying and thieving common to members of his race." He also expressed sympathy to the perpetrators of the Holocaust.
The Illinois Republican Party is going to great lengths to distance itself from Martin.
"His statements today are consistent with his history of bizarre behavior and often times hate-filled speech which has no place in the Illinois Republican Party," party chairman Pat Brady said. "Mr. Martin will no longer be recognized as a legitimate Republican candidate by the Illinois Republican Party."