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GOP opponent’s campaign says congresswoman ‘looks rundown’

The campaign for John Hugo, the Republican candidate for the state’s Fifth Congressional District, thinks Democratic incumbent Katherine Clark (center) isn’t looking that well these days.
The campaign for John Hugo, the Republican candidate for the state’s Fifth Congressional District, thinks Democratic incumbent Katherine Clark (center) isn’t looking that well these days.Scott Eisen/Getty Images

On Friday, the campaign for John Hugo, the Republican candidate for the state’s Fifth Congressional District, suggested that the Democratic incumbent Katherine Clark isn’t looking that well these days.

That was the kicker to an e-mail that his “press liaison” sent to a number of news outlets Friday.

The flak, Anthony Tamagna, said he wanted to draw attention to the sharp contrast between his guy and Clark. “Hugo supports low taxes whereas Clark supports high taxes,” for instance. The Woburn resident is a patriot, whereas Clark, a former attorney who started her political career running for the Melrose school committee, is a “global elite.”

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Then Tamagna accused Clark of using old photos of herself “from many years ago to show how lively she is when in fact she looks rundown.”

A Clark spokeswoman said her campaign was “not going to dignify” the charge with a response.

Reached by phone Saturday, Hugo said he the photo remark was Tamagna’s own commentary. He’s “fresh out of college” and a volunteer — like the rest of Hugo’s staff — and the candidate gives him “wide latitude to write what he wants.”

Hugo says he generally likes what his guy writes for him, but he doesn’t want to associate himself with that particular criticism.

“I think that is like the least important issue,” he said, noting that he and Clark are both 55 years old. “Nobody ages like wine.”

“I’m really just trying to get some kind of press so people can understand that I have a campaign,” said Hugo, who works as a taxi dispatcher and beat out a better-funded Republican in the primary. Hugo has only raised $4,000, he said.

Hugo’s main complaint is that Clark is refusing to debate him. He said he’s tried to contact Clark directly and through the Democratic state committee, to no avail. And he can’t get any media attention.

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“It’s enough that it’s an overwhelming Democratic state and she’s got a thousand-to-one spending (advantage), but give me a break,” he said.

The criticism from Hugo’s camp is reminiscent of the attacks President Trump waged against Hillary Clinton, saying she “doesn’t have the stamina” to be president. There was even a whole conspiracy theory that bloomed on the far right about her supposedly failing health.

Photos on Clark’s campaign website appear to closely resemble the present-day Clark.

Hugo said he thought Tamagna was referring to a photo of Clark he found on Ballotpedia, which describes itself as a “nonpartisan online political encyclopedia.”


Victoria McGrane can be reached at victoria.mcgrane@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @vgmac.