San Diego GOP Endorses Openly ‘Gay’ House Candidate

Barb Wire

By BarbWire Staff

Corresponding with the push to purge the pro-life and pro-marriage planks from the GOP platform, the Republican Party of San Diego County (RPSDC) has endorsed openly-homosexual and pro-choice congressional candidate Carl DeMaio.

DeMaio is one of three Republican candidates vying to win the June 3 primary for California’s 52nd congressional district seat. The winner will face off against incumbent Democrat Scott Peters in November.

DeMaio’s GOP primary opponents include Fred Simon, a surgeon who opposes Obamacare, and Tea Party favorite Kirk Jorgensen, a former Marine and CIA officer who is also a strongly pro-life and pro-family Catholic.

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Campaigning as a “new generation Republican” focused on fiscal, not social, issues, in February DeMaio unveiled a TV ad showing him holding hands with boyfriend Johnathan Hale. The ad is believed to be the first of its kind by a candidate from either major party that includes a same-sex partner.

A poster advertising an upcoming DeMaio precinct walk urges people to “Help elect the first openly gay Republican to Congress,” then attend the after-party at Baja Betty’s [gay] bar in Hillcrest, San Diego’s “gay mecca”.  

A Jesuit-educated Georgetown University graduate who lost his mother to cancer at age 15, two weeks after his father walked out on the family, DeMaio first appeared on San Diego’s political scene about a decade ago. Then, as founder of the Performance Institute, he gained wide recognition as a fiscal reformer by analyzing and providing advice on the City of San Diego’s troubled pension benefit program and other financial woes.

Initially, DeMaio was mum about his homosexuality. The New York Times reported that, during the 2008 Prop 8 marriage fight in California, DeMaio “stayed quiet on the issue as he ran for [San Diego] City Council in a conservative district.

By 2012, however, as he was running for mayor, DeMaio’s homosexuality had become well-known in local Republican circles. This did not prevent several prominent Prop 8 supporters from donating to his campaign, based on the premise that he was the most qualified candidate and reportedly conditioned on his promise that he would not pursue “gay agenda” issues such as same-sex marriage.

DeMaio then promptly turned around and “seconded successful motions to name a street after gay-rights hero Harvey Milk and to fly a rainbow flag over Hillcrest,” San Diego’s homosexual enclave, according to a May 2012 San Diego CityBeat story.

Later that year, DeMaio also marched in San Diego’s “gay pride” parade holding hands with life partner Johnathan Hale, the event that provided the hand-holding clip in DeMaio’s current campaign ad. Hale owns Hale Media, Inc., described on its website as the “Publisher of San Diego’s most prominent GLBT brands,” including San Diego Gay & Lesbian News and San Diego Pix Magazine.

Johnathan Hale has come under fire for his reportedly criminal past in Arkansas where, under previous surnames, he racked up a felony burglary conviction, battery charges, and several restraining orders, according to LGBT Weekly. Hale’s past has also ignited questions about the national security risk he might pose should DeMaio win the 52nd congressional seat.

Some conservative San Diego Republicans are outraged that RPSDC appears to be “going gay” by supporting DeMaio instead of Jorgensen, whose positions on social issues align much more closely with the party’s official stances.

Comments on the political blog San Diego Rostra accuse party and community leaders of colluding to endorse DeMaio before the candidate filing period closed and without input from central committee members and other rank-and-file Republicans. They also score DeMaio for refusing to debate Jorgensen and for fundraising outside the 52nd district in homosexual enclaves such as Palm Springs, West Hollywood, and Miami.

Some local news outlets are also suspected of waging a media blackout against Jorgensen. San Diego Union-Tribune owner Douglas “Papa Doug” Manchester, who backed Proposition 8, supports DeMaio, as does prominent national talk show host Roger Hedgecock. Hedgecock’s refusal to provide airtime to Jorgensen, and his fundraising efforts on behalf of DeMaio, have prompted at least one person to file an FCC ethics complaint against Hedgecock’s station, KFMB.

Jorgensen is endorsed by Congressman Duncan D. Hunter, the ultra-conservative California Republican Assembly, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), and prominent San Diego pastor Chris Clark, a leading Prop 8 organizer.

In a recent blog entry, Clark outlined his reasons for supporting Jorgensen:

This year, one of the two main political parties is facing a serious gut-check with regard to their core beliefs. In one particular congressional race (the 52nd House District in California), the local Republican party has endorsed a candidate that does not embrace two very foundational planks in the statement of the party’s core beliefs (called the platform). At the same time, that same local party has refused to endorse another candidate in the same race who is in agreement with all of his party’s platform.

Commenting on a recent San Diego Union-Tribune article, Karen Grube summed up the feelings of many local Republicans toward DeMaio:

Most Republicans here . . . don’t want someone representing them who lies to them and deceives them about how he will represent them, which in [DeMaio’s] case would be in a manner diametrically opposed to the values of the party he ostensibly represents and to their own values.

We know now by his own recent statements and actions like raising funds for other gay candidates nationally; by his votes supporting Harvey Milk Day in our public schools, the repeal of DADT, the rainbow flag in Hillcrest, requiring “partner benefits” for city contract bidders; and by his so-called “pension reform” deal that he promised would protect police officers but did not, that he has other priorities than representing the best interests of his constituents.

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.

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