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Former Red Hook Pol Pens Play About McCarthy-Era Suicide

A scene from former Red Hook resident Jean Bordewich's play, "Hunt," which focuses on the tragic McCarthy-era suicide of Wyoming U.S. Sen. Lester C. Hunt Sr. Photo Credit: Valerie Rigsbee, Rigsbee Photography
Former Red Hook resident and politician Jean Bordewich has written a play about the McCarthy-era suicide of U.S. Sen. Lester C. Hunt Sr. Photo Credit: Jean P. Bordewich/Facebook
A poster for Jean Bordewich's play, "Hunt," which is being shown at the Mead Theatre Lab Flashpoint in Washington, D.C. Photo Credit: Jean P. Bordewich/Facebook

RED HOOK, N.Y. -- It’s not that much of a stretch for one former Red Hook resident to pen a play about politics, according to a report by USA Today.

Jean Bordewich, who now lives in California, spent nearly a decade on the Town Council in the Dutchess County community, USA Today reported.

A Democrat, she made an unsuccessful bid for a seat in Congress in 1998 and has worked for both Rep. John Hall and U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, the USA Today story said.

Bordewich’s one-hour play, “Hunt,” is based on the tragic 1954 death of Lester C. Hunt Sr., a Democratic senator from Wyoming who shot himself after being blackmailed regarding his son’s arrest for soliciting sex from an undercover male police officer.

It is being put on at the Mead Theatre Lab-Flashpoint, through Sunday as part of Washington’s annual Capital Fringe Festiva l.

She plans to stage a longer version next year in California or New York, according to USA Today.

A Democrat, Hunt was a two-term Wyoming governor when he won a seat to the U.S. Senate. Although a fiscal conservative, he backed federal social programs, low-cost health insurance, the abolition of segregation in Washington, D.C., and the expansion of Social Security.

He also spoke out frequently against U.S. Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s anti-Communist tactics and proposed a law which would have limited Congressional immunity and allowed people to sue Congress for slander.

In 1953, Hunt’s son, “Buddy,” was arrested and later convicted in the sex sting. McCarthy, and other GOP pols, threatened to use his son’s case to hurt Hunt unless he resigned. He refused and announced plans to run for re-election. However, he backed down after another senator issued a similar threat, and, apparently overwhelmed with personal and political problems, shot himself with a rifle he smuggled into his Senate office.

To read the full USA Today story, click here.

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