Rep. McCrery Faces Homosexual Label In Louisiana Race
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) _ In the year of family values, Republican Rep. Jim McCrery is being dogged by the toughest label in his revamped and conservative congressional district - homosexual.
The rumors resurfaced this month in an article in The Advocate, a national gay magazine. The story said the two-term congressman is gay, quoted men who said they were involved with McCrery and accused him of duplicity in supporting the GOP platform, which opposes gay rights.
The Shreveport Times, McCrery’s hometown newspaper, reported the magazine’s charges on Sept. 1 in a front-page article and other newspapers statewide also reported on the claims.
McCrery held a news conference to deny the allegations in the article, ″The Outing of a Family Values Congressman: U.S. Rep. Jim McCrery’s Double Life.″
McCrery’s wife, Jonette, took umbrage at the suggestion.
″To believe that, you’d have to believe I’m a fool and my marriage is a fraud,″ she said.
In 1988, McCrery shook off the charges with little problem when his primary opponent, Robert Briggs, raised the gay issue.
The same year, McCrery angered the gay community when he said a surgeon general’s report on AIDS implied that ″abnormal sexual activity″ is acceptable.
The recent story has cast a shadow over McCrery’s re-election bid in one of two incumbent vs. incumbent races in Louisiana although his opponent, Democratic Rep. Jerry Huckaby, has not mentioned the magazine article.
Louisiana could be the first state in which congressional races are decided when it holds its primary Saturday.
Under the state’s unusual open primary system, candidates for both parties run on the same ballot. If no candidate gets a simple majority, the top two vote-getters meet in a Nov. 3 runoff.
The campaign in the newly drawn 5th Congressional District of northern Louisiana - the state lost one seat under the 1990 Census - has centered on Huckaby’s 88 bad checks at the now-defunct House bank.
The eight-term lawmaker recently said he received a letter from the Justice Department clearing him of wrongdoing.
Huckaby has criticized McCrery’s vote for a congressional pay raise ″at a time when we were in a recession.″
In another incumbent vs. incumbent race, Republican Reps. Richard Baker and Clyde Holloway are trying to portray the other as less conservative in a redrawn district that includes much of Baton Rouge and a large portion of central Louisiana.
Maryland, Montana and Iowa each have an incumbent vs. incumbent race. It took weeks to decide the other Republican vs. Republican primary contest in Ohio earlier this year.
Baker, who is seeking his fourth term, has hit at Holloway’s attendance record in 1991, the year Holloway ran for governor.
″I had hoped Richard wouldn’t mislead the public,″ said Holloway. ″My attendance record since I’ve been in Congress is excellent.″
The three-term Holloway has picked up the support of fellow Republican Rep. Bob Livingston although the Louisiana lawmaker has little name recognition in the district.
Livingston and Baker have been at odds over federal patronage appointments in Louisiana. ″That had nothing to do with my endorsement,″ said Livingston, who lives in suburban New Orleans.
″We’re certainly staying out of the 6th District race,″ said Billy Nungesser, head of the state GOP.
The mayor of Alexandria, Democrat Ned Randolph, is also running for the House seat. Randolph could force a runoff although it’s unlikely he would finish among the top two, Republican Party leaders said.
″I think I’ve got a good shot at it,″ said Randolph, a former state senator. ″People in this state are tired of Republican politics.″