Jon Hoadley is the first openly LGBTQ person to run for Congress in Michigan, challenging incumbent Republican Fred Upton in Michigan's 6th district. Hoadley is running a great campaign – so much so that he is posing a real challenge to Upton who is seeking his 18th term — yep, that's 36 years!
Upton's supporters at the National Republican Campaign Committee are so frightened that they might lose this seat to a Democrat that they've pulled out the worst homophobic tropes – pedophilia, drug use, sexual predation – and thrown these insults at Hoadley in TV ads and mailings. They are betting they will be able to stir up voters' homophobia against Hoadley and soften his support in the Nov. 3 election.
Upton's campaign manager, Nate Henschel, told the Detroit News that the Upton campaign has nothing to do with the smear campaign. How dumb does he think we are? OF COURSE, the Upton campaign is OK with this or it wouldn't be happening! And Upton could stop it immediately if he had the courage to speak out against these smears. Clearly, Upton is just hiding behind the NRCC.
Ironically, on Aug. 18, Upton co-presented a virtual conversation on civility and collegiality in politics with Democratic U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell.
"We're tired of the vitriolic rhetoric and mean-spirited language used in our political discourse, and so are the American people. That's why Debbie Dingell and I are proud to serve as vice chairs of the Problem Solvers Caucus, and why we do events like today's — to show folks that civility and bipartisanship still work and should still be valued," Upton self-righteously asserted.
Lofty principles are meaningless unless they can stand the test of real-life pressure, and Upton has failed that test miserably. At the first sign of an actual threat to his reelection, Upton went low — very low. He is accusing Hoadley, through his proxies, of representing the most mean-spirited stereotypes of gay men. So much for civility and collegiality.
Let's look at their "evidence" against Hoadley.
This summer, the NRCC successfully pitched a story to the New York Post that purposefully took phrases out of context from a 15-year-old Live Journal Hoadley wrote while an undergraduate student. A reading of the blog posts reveals the extent of the distortion and smear campaign by Upton and the NRCC — using small sections of posts to claim Hoadley mocks women, uses drugs, victimizes sexual partners and is a pedophile.
Here is each reference and how it is debunked:
False Charge: Hoadley is accused of being anti-women.
Fact: In describing a night out at a straight bar Hoadley wrote, "I'm not going to lie: breeder=weird/bad dancers," from which the NRCC ridiculously accuses Hoadley of being "anti-woman." Hoadley, who minored in women's studies in college, has continuously been a champion for women's rights in the legislature, advocating for equal pay legislation, reproductive rights, childcare resources and beyond. The NRCC accusation is a lie and makes no logical sense.
False Charge: Hoadley is a pedophile.
Fact: In a clearly satirical discussion about whether all 'gay men desire to be flower girls,' an aforementioned friend jokes that he has no desire to see a '4-year-old wearing a thong'" as a condemnation of the hypersexualization of children. The phrase has been removed from context to somehow imply that Hoadley is a pedophile. It is another outright lie and distortion of the meanest kind to try to scare voters.
False Charge: Hoadley condones drug usage.
Fact: The original passage details that Hoadley went to leather bar to "learn about crystal meth" and attended an informational meeting about the drug's impact on the LGTBQ community. He ended the post by writing, "Don't do meth." This was part of an anti-drug use project — the exact opposite of how the NRCC has presented this statement.
Reaction to Upton's two-faced position of "civility and collegiality" versus his lies and distortions has been met with a firestorm of protest, from his constituents, LGBTQ leaders and local and national organizations including the Victory Fund.
In an emotional thank you note to his supporters last week, Hoadley wrote, "In the face of some of the most hateful and disgusting tactics we've ever seen in the 6th District, folks have raised their voices to let Congressman Upton and his dark money D.C. supporters know that hate has no home here in Southwest Michigan. No one can prepare themselves for the kind of vitriol we've seen from folks trying to defeat us, but the way people in our community have stepped up to let me know they're with me means so much."
Michigan's LGBTQ community has known Jon Hoadley for over 15 years, starting when he took a temporary leave from college in 2004 to come here and work to defeat the anti-marriage ballot initiative that ultimately enshrined discrimination into the Michigan constitution. He has served admirably for six years in the Michigan House of Representatives. We know him to be principled, intelligent, trustworthy and we are lucky that someone this talented has committed his adult life to public service.
Upton should be ashamed of himself for besmirching him in this cowardly attack. If he meant anything he said while proclaiming his commitment to civility and collegiality he ought to apologize for this despicable smear campaign.