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Sen. Michael Moore’s Opponent Kicked Out of Fundraiser

Monday, April 09, 2012

 

Sen. Michael Moore, D-Millbury

In Massachusetts, where the politics can get really personal really quick, it’s never a question of whether a campaign is going to get dirty – it’s who’s going to sling the first ball of mud.

The answer came swiftly in the District 2 state Senate race, where Auburn Republican Stephen Simonian is challenging incumbent state Sen. Michael Moore, D-Millbury. Simonian, a Navy veteran, told GoLocalWorcester he was ordered to leave a fundraiser at American Legion Post 443 in Cherry Valley last week, one that was sponsored by his rival, but was open to the public. The event raised $1,000 for the Leicester Public Library Renovation Fund as well as money for the Leicester Food Pantry.

“I am a veteran and a member of the American Legion,” Simonian said, expressing outrage that a man claiming to represent Moore’s campaign instructed both him and a friend to leave. “Who is this gentleman to tell me to leave? He said this was a Michael Moore event. This was not a Mike Moore event. This was a fundraiser for a library. This was a public event.”

The event was a fundraiser for the library renovation project, but both Moore and Leicester Selectman Doug Belanger sponsored it. Whether it was a public event is also up for debate. Moore said he sent out hundreds of invitations and a Moore campaign worker said the event was invitation-only. Yet Moore also said the event was open to the public.

“He should not have been told that he should leave,” Moore said. “It was a public event. I did think it was odd that (Simonian) would show up at an event I was sponsoring. People did come to me and say they felt uncomfortable that he was there.

“But no one was instructed by me to make him leave. If [someone] did that, he did that of his own accord.”

Joe Martin, who is helping to coordinate Moore’s campaign, said he was at the fundraiser.

“I was right there,” he said. “(Simonian) was not asked to leave.”

Steve Rafer of Spencer, who said he is a longtime friend of Simonian and is helping run his campaign in Leicester, told a much different story. The two, he said, had been at another function across the street and Simonian suggested they make a donation to the library fund

Stephen Simonian, Auburn Republican

“We were walking around the room and he and I met up again and were talking,” Rafer said. “One of Moore’s representatives came over and I held out my hand to shake it. He said he didn’t know me, so he wouldn’t shake my hand. Then he said we don’t belong here, get out. I said we’ll leave in a few minutes and he said, ‘You’ll leave now.’”

The man told them it was a Michael Moore event, Rafer said.

“We said no, it’s a public event sponsored by Mike Moore,” he said. “It was not supposed to be a political event.”

Asked if he and Simonian knew Moore was hosting the event and would be there, Rafer said, “We weren’t sure he would still be there, but even still, there are ways to approach people and ways not to approach people. He got in our faces. He was very rude.”

Rafer said neither he nor Simonian was intentionally trying to stir up trouble.

“There was no malice on our part,” he said. “That was not our mindset.”

He noted both Moore and Simonian attended the same meat raffle last week.

“When two guys are campaigning, you have to go to a lot of the same events,” Rafer said.

For Simonian, the incident was an affront to his service to country. 

“As a veteran and a member of the American Legion, I was outraged that someone told me I had to leave,” he said. “This was a fundraiser for a local library. This is one of the towns I would represent. Why wouldn’t I go?”

Moore pointed out the event had nothing to do with veterans, it was simply being held at the hall. 

“I would not have gone to an event if Steve held one,” he said. “I thought it was unusual. But no one was ever instructed as part of my campaign to tell him he had to leave.”

 

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