Mailers sent by the Maine Democratic Party to voters in House District 137 take issue with Republican State Representative Larry Lockman’s history of controversial statements and actions, in particular his 1990 comments comparing abortion to rape.
“If a woman has the right to abortion, why shouldn’t a man be free to use his superior strength to force himself on a woman? At least the rapist’s pursuit of sexual freedom doesn’t in most cases result in anyone’s death,” Is the quote highlighted in the mail piece, a statement attributed to Lockman in a 1995 letter to the Lewiston Sun Journal.
“Maine has zero tolerance for such hateful, vicious and offensive comments directed at women or any other demographic,” said Democratic Party Chair Ben Grant when asked about the mailers. “We hope Rep. Lockman’s constituents send a message loud and a clear on Election Day that this type of hate speech has no place in Maine, and that he has no business representing anyone in Augusta.”
This quote on rape was one of a series of extreme statements made over the years by Lockman that I wrote about on this blog in February. He also, for instance, spent a decade railing against the “illegal” IRS and refusing to pay his federal and state income taxes and has leveled a number of slurs against gays and lesbians.
When theses offensive statements came to light earlier this year, the Maine Democratic Party called for Rep. Lockman’s resignation. Lockman refused, and declined to even apologize for his remarks or clarify his views, stating only that “I have always been passionate about my beliefs, and years ago I said things that I regret.”
Republican leaders similarly refused to condemn the statements or call for Lockman to apologize. House Minority Leader Ken Fredette would say only that he did “not condone these or any statements that are intentionally hurtful toward others on account of race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation.”
Lockman’s remarks, and in particular the comments on rape, received a great deal of national attention and condemnation, everywhere from the Chicago Tribune to Cosmo, as he became another symbol of the Republican Party’s difficulty in appealing female voters.
This controversy has not kept Lockman from being a spokesperson for his party. He has recently written several pieces for the Maine Heritage Policy Center’s website, The Maine Wire, promoting the GOP and attacking Democrats in the legislature, and this week he wrote an op-ed for the Bangor Daily News making a case for the election of himself and his fellow Republicans.
It also hasn’t prevented Lockman from receiving the support of the Republican establishment in his own campaign for re-election. He reports contributions from the House Republican Majority Fund, from fellow GOP legislators including Representatives Dennis Keschl, Mel Newendyke and Anita Peavey-Haskell, and from Second Congressional District Republican candidate Bruce Poliquin.
Lockman, who is in his first term in the legislature, faces a tough challenge for re-election from Democratic candidate Oscar Emerson, a small business owner and longtime chair of the Bradley Town council, who would be a strong contender for the seat even without Lockman’s self-inflicted political injuries.