A Republican candidate for U.S. Senate from New Hampshire denounced “liberal, socialist pansies” in a recent ad — “pansy” being a dated but once-common antigay slur.
“I didn’t spend my life defending this country to let a bunch of liberal, socialist pansies squander it away,” military veteran Donald Bolduc says in the 15-second ad, airing on cable television. “I’m Don Bolduc, I approve this message, and I’m asking for your vote.”
Bolduc and Corky Messner, another military man, are competing for the Republican Senate nomination in the primary to be held September 8. There are two other GOP contenders, according to Ballotpedia, but Bolduc and Messner are the front-runners. Democrat Jeanne Shaheen, an LGBTQ+ ally first elected in 2008, is the incumbent and has only nominal opposition in her primary.
The Human Rights Campaign quickly condemned Bolduc’s language. “Donald Bolduc’s use of a homophobic slur in his campaign ad is shameful and dangerous,” HRC spokesperson Wyatt Ronan told Manchester, N.H., TV station WMUR. “A campaign run on hate has no place in New Hampshire or anywhere in this country. History shows that New Hampshire is won by supporting and advancing the rights and protections of LGBTQ Granite Staters, not demeaning them.
“Bolduc’s attacks on the LGBTQ+ community might help him in his Republican primary against Corky Messner, who has called the fight for transgender rights ‘horrific,’ but it’s wrong for New Hampshire. That’s why voters will reject them in the fall and reelect Jeanne Shaheen, who has always fought to make a difference for the LGBTQ community.”
Bolduc has also stated his opposition to marriage equality and has said he doesn’t believe the Civil Rights Act of 1964 applies to anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination (the Supreme Court recently ruled that it does). Messner made his anti-transgender remark at a campaign event in February, saying, “What’s happening with the transgenders, what they’re teaching kids in school, and what’s happening there is horrific.” But he later told WMUR he had no problem with trans people serving in the armed forces “as long as there’s no distraction from the mission of the military.”
A recent poll from the University of New Hampshire indicates Shaheen will beat either Bolduc or Messner in the general election. Asked about a head-to-head matchup with Bolduc, 54 percent of respondents supported Shaheen, 35 percent Bolduc, and 11 percent other. The results were the same for a head-to-head race against Messner.
WMUR has asked Bolduc for comment but so far has not received any. Watch the ad and other videos of the candidates below.