Ballot box poison: why would a candidate cater to the dwindling power of the antigay far right? California gubernatorial candidate Bill Simon did just that--and it cost him. (Election 2002).
The only person who paid attention, it seems, was Simon himself. And his reaction unleashed a firestorm.
Apparently fearful of Sheldon's clout with California's few religious conservative voters, Simon immediately backpedaled, blaming the gay rights positions on campaign staffers. In response, the Republican Unity Coalition, a gay-straight GOP group, disinvited Simon from a September 5 fund-raiser to be headlined by Mary Cheney, the out lesbian daughter of Vice President Dick Cheney.
The resulting media hoopla brought back memories of a similar gaffe by an earlier California candidate: In 1998 Matt Fong's bid for a U.S. Senate seat fell apart after reports that Fong, who had been attempting to court gay support and present himself as a moderate, had contributed $50,000 to the Traditional Values Coalition.
Simon's flip-flop had Log Cabin Republicans of California president Dave Hanson scratching his head; two of his staffers had attended a meeting in which Simon personally expressed his support for gay rights. "Republicans seem to think the religious right is a bigger bloc than they are," said Hanson. "When [religious conservative] Gary Bauer ran for president in 2000, he got [less than] 1% of the vote in this state [in the primary]. Yet Republicans continue to believe they must do his bidding, and that's their downfall."
Hastings Wyman, who monitors Republican candidates as editor of Southern Political Report, agrees with Hanson's assessment. "I don't fully understand it," he said. "Simon ruined himself with everybody: gay, straight, Republican, and Democrat."
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|Publication:||The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)|
|Date:||Oct 15, 2002|
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