A veteran New Hampshire state representative has created a firestorm over a blog post in which he says that an incumbent congresswoman likely will lose her re-election bid because she is “ugly as sin,” while her younger challenger is “truly attractive.”
Steve Vaillancourt, a Republican who is in his sixth term in the New Hampshire House of Representatives, said that if there’s credence to a poll that he saw about how attractive candidates appeal to voters more than unattractive ones , then U.S. Rep. Ann McLane Kuster, a Democrat, surely will lose to her Republican challenger Marilinda Garcia.
“In New Hampshire's 2nd congressional district, if I may be so bold as to speak the truth, Republican Marilinda Garcia is one of the most attractive women on the political scene anywhere,” Vaillancourt wrote. “Not so attractive as to be intimidating, but truly attractive.”
“How attractive is Marilinda Garcia?’’ Vaillancourt asked rhetorically. “You know how opposition ad makers usually go out of their way to find a photo of the opponent not looking his or her best. Well ... Democrats and Annie Kuster supporters can't seem to find a photo of Marilinda Garcia looking bad at all.”
Kuster, on the other hand, he said, is the opposite.
“Let's be honest. Does anyone not believe that Congressman Annie Kuster is as ugly as sin?” Vaillancourt asked. “And I hope I haven't offended sin.”
“How ugly is Annie Kuster?” he asked. “Annie Kuster looks more like a drag queen than most men in drag.”
Garcia, who is currently a state representative, said Vaillancourt's comments “have absolutely no place in political discourse.”
“Both Rep. Kuster and I have experienced this unfortunate reality of being a woman in politics,” Garcia said in a statement. “I hope that as time moves forward and more female candidates run for political office around the country, people will focus on the content of our ideas rather than what we wear and how we look.”
Kuster’s campaign has declined to comment.
Polls of likely voters, however, largely buck Vaillancourt’s hypothesis.
They have tended to show Kuster, 58, leading Garcia, 31, by as much as double digits, though some more recent surveys have showed the candidates almost even, or with Garcia slightly leading.
Garcia, a conservative, has received the strong backing of national Republicans, who have declared her one of their “rising stars.”
Sen. Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican who is one of the most vocal conservatives in Congress, traveled to New Hampshire several weeks ago to stump for Garcia.
This is hardly the first time Garcia in her career has dealt with references to her looks.
Immediately after she announced her candidacy for U.S. Congress, Democratic State Rep. Peter Sullivan attacked Garcia on Twitter, saying she was another Republican lawmaker “in stiletto heels.”He called her “a lightweight” and compared her to reality-TV celebrity Kim Kardashian.
The latest sexist references to the candidates prompted Time Magazine to ask, “What is going on in New Hampshire? You’d think the state with the first-in-history all-female delegation—both senators, both House members and the governor—would be more enlightened, or at least more sensitive, when it comes to female candidates.”