Monday, July 1, 2013

Carl DeMaio and the Gay Vote

Republicans have lamented that the biggest obstacle with Blacks, Latinos, and LGBT is that these groups think Republicans are a bunch of racist, homophobic, xenophobes who hate them. I generally agree with this sentiment, but caution that while removing this belief won’t win the GOP Black or Latino votes by themselves. People in these groups tend to be poorer and favor a bigger government. So while there are some in each that Republicans will likely get if this barrier is removed, the work for their votes will be much harder.

On the other hand, the LGBT vote should be easier. They tend to be more educated, have higher incomes, and more likely to be in the business community than Latinos or Blacks.

Other than gay issues, they have no natural tie to the Democratic party. Yes, gays have been more likely to favor the Democratic stance on the environment but I can’t, for the life of me, see why choosing another man for your life partner makes you more likely to believe in global warming.

I bring this up because openly gay Republican candidates seem to be becoming more common. Richard Tisei cam a whisker away from winning a congressional seat. Kevin James finished 3rd in the Los Angeles mayoral contest. Carl DeMaio, fresh off a narrow loss to Bob Filner for San Diego mayor, is running for congress in CA-52.

Arlon Jay Staggs argues in the San Diego Gay and Lesbian News that DeMaio shouldn’t be getting nearly the hate he’s getting from the gay community. In Staggs’ opinion DeMaio is okay on gay issues. If that’s the case, why should a college educated, upper income gay businessman have a problem with him? Because reflexively all Republicans are bad people. Thus, DeMaio must be also.

I’m sure many gays think they’ll be better off with Scott Peters than Carl DeMaio and I’m certainly not going to argue with anyone who believes that. But Republicans will almost certainly be in the majority in the next term, and probably for the next three after that. Wouldn’t it be nice for the LGBT community have someone who can get legislation passed than another person to sitting in their office doing nothing? Wouldn’t they be better off if more Republicans were like DeMaio and less like… well all the Republicans they think are homophobic? If they want to win over Republicans and get gay marriage passed in more states wouldn’t it be nice to have a lot of these voters to know and like gay politicians? To have gay politicians speaking at their events?

In the recent LA mayoral election I know some Republicans who had issues with Kevin James softening up his positions on a number of issues. None of those issues were LGBT issues. And many of those Republicans, who don’t support gay marriage, busted their butts to get James elected.

I don’t know nearly as many conservatives in San Diego but those that I do know talk effusively in their praise for DeMaio and will, likewise, be busting their butt for him next year.

So we’re faced with an interesting crossroads. Will some in the LGBT community look at DeMaio, see they agree with him on most issues, and still vote Democratic because DeMaio has an R next to his name or will they give DeMaio their vote? While Republicans aren't about to nominate scores of gay candidates, can DeMaio, James, and Tisei finally give them an opening into this elusive group?

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