Ketchup Giant Strained by GOP Beef

An upstate Republican has condiment giant H.J. Heinz Co. (search) seeing red after claiming the use of its ketchup is equal to supporting Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry (search).

Assemblyman James Tedisco made the remark earlier this month while speaking at a Saratoga County Republican rally.

After reading the lawmaker's comments in an article published by The Saratogian, a Heinz official e-mailed the newspaper to say the company's ketchup is a nonpartisan condiment.

"Heinz ketchup is America's favorite ketchup and enjoyed by Republicans, Democrats and Independents alike," wrote Debora Foster, vice president of communications for Heinz.

Kerry, a Democratic senator from Massachusetts, is married to Teresa Heinz Kerry (search). She was married previously to the late Sen. John Heinz, a Republican, whose family founded the company.

Foster, however, pointed out that neither Kerry, his wife nor any of the Heinz's trusts or endowments hold a significant percentage of shares in the Pittsburgh-based company, the newspaper reported in Wednesday's editions.

Tedisco, a Republican from Schenectady, pledged during his speech that he "will not eat one ounce of ketchup until Election Day."

Though Tedisco said his words were tongue-in-cheek, he added that he "certainly won't eat Heinz ketchup until after the election."

"I made a commitment," he said, "and I'm going to stick with it."