Linda McMahon last month won the backing of a prominent social conservative because the Republican U.S. Senate candidate "stuck to her guns" in support for the federal Defense of Marriage Act.
But after Sunday's debate, when McMahon reversed her position and announced her support for repealing the controversial law, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman, Peter Wolfgang, the executive director of the Family Institute of Connecticut, said his Sept. 18 endorsement is "no longer accurate."
"I'm still voting for Linda because her victory could mean the end of Roe v. Wade. But because Linda McMahon flip-flopped and now supports a repeal of DOMA — the one federal law that stops Connecticut's judicially imposed re-definition of marriage from being imposed on the rest of the nation — my September 18th endorsement of her is no longer accurate," Wolfgang wrote on his personal Facebook page Monday morning.
Wolfgang was referring to McMahon's comments after Sunday's debate with Democrat Chris Murphy, when she announced a new stance on the Defense of Marriage Act.
"I have changed my position on DOMA because, with ... gay marriage approved in the state of Connecticut, I just ... don't think it's fair ... so I would vote to repeal DOMA,'' McMahon told reporters after the debate.
Wolfgang declined to comment further. The McMahon campaign said it intends to discuss the issue with him Tuesday.
The episode illustrates the delicate line McMahon must walk as she tries to portray herself as an independent-minded Republican woman seeking to win in a blue-leaning state.
McMahon has repeatedly said she does not march in lockstep with her party's leaders. She has highlighted her "pro-choice" beliefs in recent weeks as Democrats have stepped up their criticism of her support for the Blunt Amendment, a failed measure that would have permitted employers to deny insurance coverage for contraception if doing so violates their religious views.
McMahon, 64, said her position on gay rights has "just been evolving,'' using the same term as President Barack Obama did when he described his own shifting view on the issue.
But Eli Zupnick, a spokesman for the Murphy campaign, said McMahon's about-face on the marriage act is another example of her efforts to paint herself as more moderate than she is.
"It fits with her pattern of ... trying to hide her true right-wing beliefs,'' Zupnick said.
He pointed to the fact that McMahon expressed her support for maintaining DOMA as recently as July. And, he said, McMahon's explanation that her change of heart was prompted by Connecticut's experience with same-sex marriage doesn't wash.
"Connecticut has had same-sex marriage [since 2008]. It doesn't seem like the reason she gave makes sense,'' he said.
But Todd Abrajano, McMahon's spokesman, cited her willingness to express beliefs on same-sex marriage and abortion that run counter to the Republican Party platform as evidence of her independence.
"Linda McMahon has stated numerous times that she's an independent-minded woman and her position on the Defense of Marriage Act is clear evidence of that fact,'' Abrajano said.
"Congressman Murphy wouldn't know the first thing about an evolving position because he votes with Nancy Pelosi 98 percent of the time. He's a guaranteed party line vote in Congress and clearly has no mind of his own."
The Murphy campaign points to Wolfgang's Facebook statement that a McMahon victory "could mean the end of Roe v. Wade" as evidence of McMahon's true ideological colors.
"It is only at the end of a campaign when she's desperately trying to separate herself from right-wing Republicans,'' Zupnick said. "But she would go to Washington, D.C., and [work] hand and hand with [them.] They want to roll back the clock on women's health ... and despite what Linda McMahon is saying, that's exactly what she would do.''Copyright © 2015, CT Now