Printer Friendly

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).

While Republican leaders at the national level are increasingly reaching out to--or at least not repelling--gay GOP members, politicians at the state level often still cling to the antigay far-right voting bloc, even though doing so may backfire. Case in point: National leaders didn't flinch (and state media barely covered it) when Lou Sheldon, the diminutive president of the California-based Traditional Values Coalition, complained about California gubernatorial candidate Bill Simon's supportive stands on a number of gay rights issues, which the candidate had taken in written responses to an August 20 questionnaire from gay political group Log Cabin Republicans.

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."
COPYRIGHT 2002 Liberation Publications, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2002, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Publication:The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)
Date:Oct 15, 2002
Words:345
Previous Article:Rants & raves.
Next Article:Victory in Miami-Dade. (Election).


Related Articles
United we stand? The antigay rhetoric in this fall's election battles--most heated in Virginia's statewide races--was driven underground by the...
BALLOTS TO CLOG SYSTEM? COUNTY AGENCY READIES 818 DIFFERENT VERSIONS.
SIMON: NO WORD ON SPLIT-OFF GOP CANDIDATE PRESSES ATTACKS ON DAVIS, WON'T DISCUSS SECESSION.
EDITORIAL NO ONE FOR GOVERNOR NEITHER DAVIS NOR SIMON IS UP TO THE JOB.
Ballot battlegrounds: as the fall campaign advances toward Election Day, these are the races in which gay issues are shaping the fight for votes....
ARNOLD'S TEAM SHOWS ACTOR'S INCOME TAX FILES ANNUAL EARNINGS IN 8 FIGURES.
Recall madness.
A very gay November.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2017 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters