Republican US Senate candidate Michael J. Sullivan is facing criticism from his rivals for claiming ignorance about campaign ads made on his behalf by a conservative group whose leader campaigns with the Tea Party.
On Wednesday, his opponents in the GOP primary, Gabriel E. Gomez and state Representative Daniel B. Winslow, both called for Sullivan to clarify his connection to the Conservative Campaign Committee, an organization previously known as the Campaign to Defeat Barack Obama, and the creator of the ads.
Committee leader Lloyd Marcus, who has traveled with the Tea Party Express, inveighs on his blog against homosexual activists, saying they have brainwashed children in schools.
Two radio ads, provided to the Globe, call Sullivan a “commonsense conservative” and conclude, “Michael Sullivan is the Republican we can trust for US Senate.”
Gomez called on Sullivan to either embrace the ads or renounce the statements “from this extreme group.”
“Politicians like Mr. Sullivan wink and nod about out-of-state interest groups and then have them sling mud on their behalf,” Gomez said in a statement. “Rather than hide behind out-of-state interest groups, Mike Sullivan should either disavow the statements from this extreme group and demand that they take their attack ads elsewhere, or Sullivan should man up and deliver these attacks himself.”
Winslow’s campaign said it’s not surprising that a group whose leaders use antigay rhetoric would launch the first negative attack in the Republican primary.
“What is surprising is Mike Sullivan’s continued silence when asked repeatedly to disavow the support of such groups. He can no longer claim ignorance of their views,” Winslow said in a statement. “If he cares about Republican electability in June, he will end his silence and speak up for decency and tolerance.”
But committee vice president Ryan J. Gill said the ads, which promote Sullivan’s credentials as a conservative, are not “radical” or “hateful” and do not even focus on social issues.
In addition to the two radio ads, a TV spot was filmed with voters in Boston this week. Though it is not yet available for viewing, Gill said it is not a negative attack ad, but a positive look at Sullivan’s candidacy.
The radio ads, expected to air next week, are critical of Sullivan’s opponents, blasting the financial contributions each of them made to Democrats.
The committee has raised $50,000 toward its goal of $200,000 to support Sullivan, Gill said.
Sullivan campaign manager Paul Moore reacted to criticism from the rival GOP camps by calling Winslow and Gomez “desperate for attention.” He continued to distance Sullivan from the conservative group without denouncing it.
“We believe voters will judge Mike based on his record and message, not the personal opinions of someone he has never heard of,” Moore said in a statement.
Last week, Moore told the Globe that while he was unaware of any institutional Tea Party support for his candidate, “anyone who wants to get out and help Mike is welcome to get out and help Mike.”
“We don’t have a litmus test for someone who walks in the door and wants to lick an envelope,” he said.
Unlike the Democrats who are trying to limit negative outside advertising in the race with an agreement that bans third-party ads, the Republicans made no such deal.
When Scott Brown ran in the special election for US Senate in 2009, he declined to embrace or denounce the Tea Party’s agenda, but he reaped huge benefits from the support of the group that was then rising as a powerful conservative counterweight opposing President Obama’s health care plan.
Sullivan, an abortion opponent and the only Republican in the current Senate race who opposes gay marriage, has appealed to the state’s socially conservative voters.
The winner of the April 30 primary faces a June special election against the Democratic victor — either US representatives Edward J. Markey or Stephen F. Lynch.
US representative and Senate hopeful Edward J. Markey is launching a full-court press for women’s votes, airing a new ad focused on his support for women’s issues and highlighting endorsements by female supporters, including the National Organization for Women.
The women’s campaign seems to be an effort to draw a clear distinction between Markey and his Democratic opponent, US Representative Stephen F. Lynch, who dropped his opposition to abortion rights only recently. Markey has supported abortion rights since 1983.
Markey’s new ad notes that he has the backing of Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America. It also notes that he cosponsored a measure guaranteeing equal pay for equal work and helped force insurance companies to cover mammograms and birth control.
Markey’s campaign plans to kick off its Women for Markey effort Thursday with Attorney General Martha Coakley, Representatives Ruth Balser, a Newton Democrat, and Sarah Peake, a Provincetown Democrat, along with Senator Pat Jehlen, a Somerville Democrat, and Christina Knowles, the Massachusetts President for NOW.
House parties with other female elected Democrats are planned around the state this weekend, said spokeswoman Giselle Barry.
Scott Ferson, a spokesman for Lynch, said that his candidate has also picked up the support of women in office, including the mayors of Weymouth and Brockton. “But congressman Lynch thinks that women’s issues are the same job creation and economic issues that he’s been talking about,” Ferson said.