Top county Democrat angered by campaign ad

Photo courtesy of William Hughes Jr. An online ad which has since been taken down.

HUDSON — A campaign ad for Republican congressional candidate Marc Molinaro that featured Democratic committeeman William Hughes Jr. created a social-media stir but has since been taken offline.

A photo taken of Hughes, the incumbent New York State Democratic committeeman for the 106th Assembly District and the former minority leader of the Columbia County Board of Supervisors, was recently used in a Molinaro congressional campaign ad. Molinaro is running for the 19th Congressional District seat left vacant when Antonio Delgado became the state’s 65th lieutenant governor. The 19th includes both Columbia and Greene counties.

“They’ve since taken it down,” Hughes said. “But I was totally unaware of this picture until my phone started blowing up.”

Hughes was surprised to see the photo trending on social media and said he never gave his permission for the photo to be used that way or sign a release form to use his likeness in a campaign ad.

Hughes ran into Molinaro last Saturday in Hudson. Someone, Hughes said, took a photo of him with Molinaro, standing next to each other and sharing a laugh, and used it in a campaign ad that was posted on Molinaro’s social media page.

“Marc knows me well, because when I was on the board of supervisors it was always rumored that I was going to be his next opponent,” Hughes said. “So it’s not like he’s unaware of who I am and where I am in politics. So for someone to take the picture is different, you’re in the public sphere. Pictures get taken, but for him to use the picture, he very well knows that I am a very strong supporter of Antonio Delgado and Pat Ryan, and that I’m a strong Democrat. Our politics do not align. The photo insinuates that I am supporting him.”

The photo was taken at an outdoor Molinaro fundraiser at Grazin’, a Warren Street, Hudson, restaurant last weekend Hughes said. He said he was listening to the band when Molinaro walked over to him, shook his hand and asked how he was doing.

“He said, ‘Oh, I just went over and donated $20 to the fund,’” Hughes said. “And I laughed and said I put $40 in the fund, so you better go back over there and put in $20 more. And that’s what I laughed at. As I was doing that apparently someone took the picture of that moment.”

“If you look at the photo, it looks like he and I were joking around and there wasn’t anything like that. I am certainly respectful of his title and his candidacy, but I don’t support it.”

The ad featuring Hughes photo with Molinaro was pulled the day after Hughes asked that it be taken down.

Molinaro’s camp downplayed the incident Friday.

“Marc has had his photo taken with tens of thousands of people over the course of his career,” a spokesman for the Marc Molinaro for Congress campaign said in a statement.

The photo was taken by a local supporter who then sent the photo — and others like it from that event — to the campaign, the spokesman said.

“It is inevitable that people who interact with Marc while he’s in public may have their photo taken,” the spokesman said. “If anyone is uncomfortable with their photo being displayed on social media, we are happy to take it down. Whenever anyone has contacted our campaign asking us to take down a photo of themselves, we are happy to oblige.”

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(2) comments

Established1956

Actually I think the photo is refreshing....political adversaries actually being civil to one another.

Chris B

Thank you for bring some common sense and civility to the table.

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