Chair Keeps Job With Maine GOP After Disparaging Remark About Gay Lawmaker

The Maine Republican Party is facing criticism for letting York County GOP Chair Jim Booth keep his job after he wrote a disparaging email about a gay lawmaker.

In an email to fellow Republicans, Booth called Senate candidate Justin Chenette "Little Justine."

"Currently our old friend Little Justine is running unopposed," Booth wrote. "There is a lot of HATE for the Democratic nominee. But, we have no one as yet to take Chenette on. His liberal agenda must stop NOW! If you know anyone that would be interested in talking about taking on Little Justine please call me anytime."

Chenette said the "feminizing" of his name was "clearly going after me as someone who is openly gay," but added that the worst part, he felt, was the emphasis on hate.

"There has to be repercussions for this sort of hate speech and rhetoric," said Chenette, who represents Saco in the Maine House. "Otherwise, it's deemed acceptable."

Elected at the age of 21, he was the nation's youngest openly gay politician.

"This is not Maine values," he said.

Chenette and other Democrats, including Maine Democrat Party Chair Phil Bartlett, are calling for Booth's resignation. Even some Republicans have asked him to step down.

"I think [Booth] got carried away," said Republican State Senator David Woodsome. "I felt Jim should have stepped down, and he didn't."

Members of the York County Republican Committee met this week to discuss the email controversy. Booth apologized for the email and kept his job.

Maine GOP Chair Rick Bennett released a statement calling the email "completely inappropriate and unfortunate," but did not call for Booth's resignation.

Booth declined to comment for this story when reached by phone Friday.

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