Outside group pulls ad about Alex Morse after criticism it was homophobic
American Working Families, a Democratic outside group, pulled an ad it ran about the House race in Massachusetts 1st Congressional District after it caught flak for its remarks on Holyoke Mayor and candidate Alex Morse (D).
The ad, which had already been on the air and web, hit Morse’s record as mayor, accused his campaign of being bankrolled by other outside groups and hit him over “sexual relationships with college students.”
“Alex Morse, terrible judgement and a terrible record,” a narrator concludes.
This is the ad they sent to stations with the concluding sentences: “Now Alex Morse admits to sexual relationships with college students — even while he was a university lecturer. Alex Morse, terrible judgment, we don’t need in Congress.” https://t.co/GcTSzmXBzV pic.twitter.com/6KyGT8p2Xw
— Daniel Marans (@danielmarans) August 29, 2020
American Working Families quickly backtracked over the ad against Morse, who is gay, amid criticism the ad was homophobic.
“Today an ad from our organization began airing that we never intended to air. It was accidentally sent to stations instead of a corrected version. We regret the error and have asked all station to immediately stop airing the ad,” the group tweeted.
Today an ad from our organization began airing that we never intended to air. It was accidentally sent to stations instead of a corrected version. We regret the error and have asked all station to immediately stop airing the ad. #ma01
— American Working Families (@AmWorkFamilies) August 29, 2020
The controversy is the latest development in what has morphed into a bitter Democratic primary battle between Morse, a liberal with the backing of a string of outside groups, and longtime Rep. Richard Neal, the chair of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee.
Morse has largely campaigned on a message of change, casting Neal, who entered Congress the same year he was born, as an out-of-touch lawmaker who’s spent significant time away from the district. He has also claimed that Neal has taken corporate PAC contributions, allegations Neal’s campaign dismisses as “pure fiction.”
But Morse was hit with controversy earlier this month after he was accused of using his position as a guest lecturer at the University of Massachusetts – Amherst to pursue sexual and romantic relationships with students. He ultimately acknowledged having had consensual relationships with some students and briefly considered ending his campaign.
However, the allegations against Morse were muddied after The Intercept published messages from some of the students who had made the accusations in which they discussed potential ways to hurt Morse’s primary campaign. One student described himself as a “Neal stan” and expressed a desire to get an internship with the congressman.
There has been no evidence Neal was at all involved in the accusations against Morse.
The Massachusetts race has garnered significant attention given the progressive movement’s desire to unseat Neal and notching a string of primary victories earlier this year. However, Neal still holds a polling lead and gargantuan fundraising advantage, and the district is more rural than other areas where liberals have unseated incumbents.
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