Heckler scuffles with backers of Sen. Allen

/ Source: The Associated Press

A campaign appearance by Sen. George Allen turned physical when a liberal blogger was wrestled to the ground after heckling the senator about his divorce and court records.

Mike Stark, a first-year University of Virginia law student, approached Allen at an event Tuesday in a Charlottesville hotel, loudly asking, “Why did you spit at your first wife, George?” Stark had mentioned on his Web log a day earlier that he was trying to provoke Allen “whenever I can.”

Stark’s comments Tuesday and the confrontation that followed were captured by WVIR-TV in Charlottesville.

Three men, all wearing blue Allen lapel stickers, grabbed Stark, put him in a chokehold, dragged him backward and pushed him to the floor at one point outside a meeting room.

Stark later said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press: “I am a constituent. I am allowed to ask my U.S. senator questions.” He later demanded that Allen fire the staffers involved and threatened to press charges.

In a posting a day before the incident on his liberal blog “Calling All Wingnuts,” Stark wrote: “I’m also trying to ‘Roger and Me’ George Allen whenever I can,” referring to director Michael Moore’s 1989 documentary in which Moore repeatedly tried to confront former General Motors’ chief executive about the company’s downsizing.

Allen’s former wife, Anne Waddell, issued a statement after Tuesday’s incident calling Stark’s question “a baseless, cheap shot.” She said she and Allen divorced more than 22 years ago and, because it was a personal matter, they had the divorce records sealed.

According to a news release from Allen’s campaign, Tuesday’s incident began when Stark pushed an Allen staffer. “Later, volunteers restrained him and asked to leave the building when he approached the senator a second time, asking inappropriate questions,” the release said.

A previous confrontation
In August, Stark similarly approached Allen after a speech at a hotel near Staunton, loudly asking if he had ever used a six-letter epithet against blacks.

That was two weeks after Allen, at a rally, referred to a volunteer for the senator’s Democratic opponent as “macaca,” considered by some to be a racial slur.

Stark said Tuesday that he approached Allen at the same time reporters did after his speech and first asked him about two court summonses issued for Allen in Albemarle County in 1974.

A county court index book reflects that they were issued, but supporting documents that would explain them were destroyed long ago. Allen has said the two offenses were for fishing without a license and too many unpaid parking tickets.

A new statewide poll conducted for CNN showed Allen’s Democratic challenger, former Navy Secretary Jim Webb, with a slight lead in the fiercely contested race that could help determine whether the GOP retains control of the Senate.