Mike Taylor, the Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate from Montana, pulled out of the race Thursday afternoon saying that a TV ad, which he says insinuates that he was a gay hairdresser, killed support for his candidacy, the Billings Gazette reports. The ad, which was paid for by the Democratic Party, includes a film clip from a twice-weekly TV segment Taylor participated in during the early 1980s. In the clip Taylor is applying lotions to the face of a man sitting in a barber chair while discussing skin-care techniques. In the ad, Taylor is wearing a tight-fitting three-piece suit, a big-collared open shirt with several buttons undone, and gold chains, the Gazette reports.
"I cannot believe they would stoop to that level," Taylor said. "What bothers me is, they are using a picture to assassinate my character. Why use that picture? Are they saying someone from my field is not qualified to be senator?"
The ad also concerns state senator Ken Toole, who is program director for the Montana Human Rights Network. Toole, who has fought for gay rights for years in the state legislature, said the ad "is an overt and obvious appeal to the homophobic [voter] that is playing to that stereotypic imagery." Toole told the Gazette that the Democratic Party's response is that they did not mean to imply that Taylor was gay.
A state senator from Proctor, Taylor was challenging Democratic U.S. senator Max Baucus, who is running for his fifth term in the Senate. A recent poll by the Lee Newspapers of Montana showed Baucus leading Taylor, 54% to 35%. The Gazette reports "unconfirmed rumors" that Taylor will be replaced in the race by former Montana governor Marc Racicot, who is now chairman of the Republican National Committee.