Bunning supporter throws "limp-wristed" curveball

By Mary Jacoby
Published October 27, 2004 5:03PM (UTC)
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Amid new poll numbers showing increasing support in Kentucky for a constitutional amendment that would ban civil unions, a supporter of Sen. Jim Bunning on Monday referred to the Republican's Democratic challenger as a "switch hitter" with a "limp wrist." State Senate President David Williams made the remark about state Sen. Daniel Mongiardo, who is unmarried, at a campaign stop Monday.

"What a shame it would be if we traded the strong left hand of Jim Bunning -- the punch that he has -- for the limp wrist of Mongiardo," Williams said. He praised Bunning, a one-time major league baseball pitcher, as "fully capable of still throwing that hard pitch from the mound. And his opponent is a switch-hitter who doesn't know if he's on the left or the right."


Questioned by reporters, Williams later denied that he had intended any sexual connotation. But knowing the kind of political spit balls Republicans like to throw, it's hard to believe Bunning's surrogate was unaware of the strong anti-gay sentiment in the Blue Grass state. A new survey for the Louisville Courier-Journal this week showed that 76 percent of Kentucky voters support the amendment to ban civil unions and strengthen state laws defining marriage as between a man and a woman. That's up from 70 percent support for the amendment in May. Mongiardo's campaign manager Kim Geveden told the Courier-Journal that the Bunning camp's coded language was "just one more outlandish effort to smear Daniel Mongiardo."

Once thought to be a shoo-in for reelection, Bunning has struggled in recent weeks with bad publicity resulting from gaffes and odd behavior. The race, which the incumbent once led by more than 20 points, is now a dead heat, surveys show.

Mary Jacoby

Mary Jacoby is Salon's Washington correspondent.

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