Illinois GOP officials are denouncing a radio ad by Republican Senate candidate Andy Martin that raised questions about U.S. Rep. Mark Kirk's sexual orientation.
In the radio ad on WBBM 780-AM and WGN 720-AM Monday, Martin quotes Family Taxpayers Foundation president Jack Roeser as saying there is a "solid rumor that Kirk is a homosexual."
Kirk's campaign responded by saying Kirk is not gay. "The ad is not true and is degrading to the political process. The people of Illinois deserve better," said Eric Elk, a spokesman for Kirk, a five-term Republican congressman from Highland Park who is running for U.S. Senate in the Feb. 2 primary.
The Illinois Republican Party and another Kirk opponent, Patrick Hughes of Hinsdale, quickly followed up Monday with further denunciation.
"The Illinois Republican Party disavows the statements made today by Mr. Andrew Martin in his statewide radio advertisements," said party chairman Pat Brady of St. Charles. "His statements today are consistent with his history of bizarre behavior and often times hate-filled speech which has no place in the Illinois Republican Party. Mr. Martin will no longer be recognized as a legitimate Republican candidate by the Illinois Republican Party."
Hughes said in a statement the ad "is just another personal attack that has no place in this primary and should not be taken seriously by voters."
Martin has run for high office several times over the years and has never won.
Lately, the Chicago blogger has been questioning President Barack Obama's heritage and religion. He also has been repeatedly accused of anti-Semitism and filing scores of frivolous lawsuits. Martin denies he is anti-Semitic or that he has filed frivolous lawsuits.
Roosevelt University political professor Paul Green said the ad was "just silly with the problems we are facing in Illinois and the nation."
"To say it is in bad taste would be too kind," Green said.
In his ad, Martin cites a radio interview with Roeser. president of the Carpentersville-based Family Taxpayers Foundation, and Raymond True, president of the Republican Assembly of Lake County. Neither of them supports Kirk or Martin. In the WIND 560-AM radio broadcast from this fall, Roeser talked about a "solid rumor" that Kirk is gay while True said Kirk has "surrounded himself" with gay people.
Martin used those interviews to raise the question himself of whether Kirk is gay.
Contacted Monday, True said he doesn't think Kirk is gay and pointed out that he said on the radio show that the recently divorced Kirk was married for eight years.
"I think Mr. Martin went way too far," True said.
Roeser, however, stood by his statements that he believes Kirk is gay. He said he thinks so because Kirk has supported some gay rights initiatives. Roeser also made reference to "rumors" that he refused to elaborate on.
Martin said in a news release that "the issue is not homosexuality, the question is hypocrisy; people are entitled to their privacy, they are not entitled to live public lives in the closet."
Last year, Martin came in second in a three-way Senate primary with 34 percent of the vote.
This time he is in a six-way primary. The other candidates are former downstate judge Don Lowery of Golconda, Springfield activist Kathleen Thomas and former Harvey alderman John Arrington.