Race for GOP nomination in 2nd District takes a European detour

Ann Brookes, Republican congressional candidate in the 2nd District

Michael Bagley / Courtesy of Brookes campaign

Ann Brookes, Republican congressional candidate in the 2nd District

Candidates routinely tout the support of notable figures when seeking public office, but it’s not every day that a candidate claims the endorsement of an unspecified former Portuguese vice president.

But Ann Brookes, a tax attorney from Westbrook who entered the race for the 2nd Congressional District GOP nomination in April, has claimed on a number of occasions she has received the support of one of Portugal’s former vice presidents, though she has not named the individual publicly. She has instead only identified him as someone she worked with while providing consulting services to a large Portuguese investment firm in recent years.

This claim – a small and otherwise un-noteworthy part of her campaign pitch – caused an unusual exchange of demands between the two contenders for the nomination, though both campaigns have since reached a truce on the matter.

The claimed endorsement prompted conservative radio host Daria Novak of Madison, who is also seeking the nomination, to call on Brookes to “explain herself or withdraw from the race.” Brookes responded with what she called a cease and desist order against Novak, a claim Novak says is untrue.

The dispute first came to public attention on April 25 during Lee Elci’s radio show on 94.9 WJJF that morning. Novak, a guest on the program, questioned why a foreign dignitary from a “socialist nation” would try to influence a U.S. election. She said Brookes should withdraw from the race if she could not give a satisfactory explanation.

In response, Brookes said in a post on her campaign’s Facebook page on April 25 that a cease and desist order had been issued to Novak in an attempt to stop her from spreading information she claimed was contradictory to “the truth.”

But Novak said no judge issued a formal cease and desist order as far as she knew. Instead, she said, she received a letter from Grafstein and Arcaro, a bankruptcy and real estate law firm in Farmington, demanding that she issue retractions of all statements about Brookes – except for those that were positive.

Melissa Young, spokeswoman for the Brookes campaign, said she could not comment on any legal action because she was not aware of the details nor was she involved in the process.

Novak said she and Brookes later discussed the matter and is satisfied with Brookes’ explanation of the endorsement.

Republicans will nominate a candidate to challenge Courtney for the 2nd District seat during the party’s state convention Monday. Brookes has pledged to drop out if she does not receive the party’s endorsement at the convention, while Novak plans to force a primary if Brookes wins the support of the convention.

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