Democrats launch talking mailer to criticize Brakey on rape comment

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AUBURN — In what appears to be a first in Maine campaigns, the state’s Democratic Party is mailing a “talking” card attacking a Republican state Senate candidate for a comment he made following the National Republican Convention in 2012.

The mailed card, which features a small audio device, goes after state Senate District 20 candidate Eric Brakey for making a reference to rape during an interview he gave following a controversial voice vote during the convention.

The vote blocked Republicans from supporting presidential candidate U.S. Rep. Ron Paul.  

Brakey, a Paul supporter and delegate to the convention from Maine, compared the maneuver by his fellow Republicans to rape.

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During the interview Brakey says, “I hate to compare it to something so serious and severe, but it really felt like being raped … that here we did all this work and it was just thrown away and we had no control and no power.”

The talking campaign mailer pulls six words — “it really felt like being raped” — from Brakey’s longer statement.

A narrator in the 30-second message says Brakey was describing how it felt “after losing one vote” at the convention.  

Brakey and Maine’s Ron Paul delegates actually lost at least two prior voice votes during the convention and were the subject of national media coverage when they left the convention in frustration and protest.

The Maine Democratic Party paid $7,900 for the  mailer, produced by Ourso Beychok, a political advertising firm in Louisiana, according to Maine campaign finance records available online. It was unclear how much each mailer cost or how many were sent to voters in Senate District 20.

In 2012, Ourso Beychok won an advertising industry award for a similar direct-mail piece using audio technology. That ad was aimed at former U.S. Rep. Todd Akin, R-Mo., for remarks he made about rape, Social Security and student loans during his unsuccessful campaign to win a U.S. Senate seat against Sen. Claire McCaskill.

The Brakey mailer misspells Brakey’s first name as “Erik.”

“It’s just more of the detritus coming out of the Democratic Party,” Maine Republican Party Chairman Rick Bennett said. “They have vast sums of money and they are just spending it in the most negative, venal ways possible. The level of negativity coming from the Democratic Party, I think, is unprecedented this year.”

Bennett said the Maine Republican Party also was responsible for negative mail and other attack-type advertisements. “We are holding people to account and doing comparative pieces, too,” he said.

The audio mailer is the second from the Maine Democratic Party attacking Brakey based on partial information about him or statements he’s made, Bennett said Friday.

Rachel Irwin, a spokeswoman for the Maine Democratic Party, defended the mailer. “They are his words,” she said. “He said those words, ‘It felt like being raped.’ Those are his own words.”

“And that’s just grossly inappropriate,” Irwin said.

She said Republicans had targeted Democrats with radio and television advertising that suggests candidates support allowing welfare recipients to buy alcohol and tobacco with state-issued benefits, which is not true.

Asked whether the Democrats’ spending on the Senate District 20 race was an indication the party was worried about their candidate’s chances of winning, Irwin said, “We think it’s an important race, we think it’s very important to get Democrats elected to the state Senate.”

Brakey is running against Sen. John Cleveland, an Auburn Democrat and former mayor of the city. The seat they are competing for represents the towns of Auburn, Mechanic Falls, Minot, Poland and part of New Gloucester.

Cleveland did not authorize the mailer and did not have a hand in its production.

sthistle@sunjournal.com

To see a video of the mailer and hear its message go online to: www.sunjournal.com/news/1611921

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