Story highlights

Republican Nan Hayworth is challenging openly gay Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney

Hayworth's gay son defends his mother in a new ad, saying she's "no extremist"

Hayworth's stances on gay rights issues have triggered criticism from the left and right

Washington CNN —  

The gay son of Republican congressional challenger Nan Hayworth says his mother – who’s trying to unseat New York’s only openly gay congressman – is “no extremist” in a new ad.

The spot is an attempt to insulate Hayworth against Democratic Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney’s criticism of her stance on social issues like same-sex marriage, which she’s said the federal government shouldn’t mandate nationwide.

“As a gay man, coming to terms with who I am wasn’t easy,” Hayworth’s son Will says in the ad. “But my parents love me for who I am and for whom I love. So when I hear vicious negative attacks against Nan Hayworth, I have to speak out.

“Nan Hayworth is no extremist,” he says. “She’s my mom. She’s kind. She’s compassionate. She’s always been there for me. And she’ll always be there for you.”

The race is an attempt at a comeback for Hayworth: She’d previously won the Hudson Valley seat in 2010 before being ousted by Maloney in 2012.

But her stances on gay rights issues have opened her to criticism from Democrats who also point to her calls to defund Planned Parenthood as they portray her as loyal to the tea party.

After Hayworth told the Poughkeepsie Journal that while she has no problem with recent court rulings legalizing same-sex marriage in some states, the federal government “should not impose the definition of marriage on the states and I think every state is proceeding as it should,” Maloney accused Hayworth of allowing discriminatory state policies.

“How dare you say that you respect my marriage and wish us well and say that if we go down to Alabama they can discriminate against us,” he said.

Maloney has run “millions of dollars of negative attack ads against Dr. Hayworth, which are not true, and we figured, what better way to respond than with her son,” said Terence Michos, a Hayworth campaign adviser.

Hayworth has also felt heat from the right. While in Congress, Hayworth was a member of the LGBT Equality Caucus, angering conservatives in her district.