For the first time, an openly gay Republican candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives plans to air an ad showing him with his partner – a decision that will test the tea party faction of the GOP, The Wall Street Journal
“By highlighting his sexuality in an ad, Mr. (Carl) DeMaio is hoping to diminish it as an issue so that voters focus on other concerns, such as his calls to pare the debt and overhaul the tax code,” according to The Journal.
DeMaio, 39, is a former San Diego city councilman trying to unseat freshman Democrat Scott Peters. In San Diego, it’s his aggressive representation of conservative issues, not his sexuality, that has soared DeMaio to popularity, according to Fox News,
which notes that DeMaio “spearheaded the city’s effort to overhaul the bloated public pension system.”
Ultimately, voters approved a fix and DeMaio became a hero to conservatives and a villain to labor unions, Fox reported.
DeMaio is focused on traditionally conservative issues, not promoting his sexual identity, although he “would like to coax Republicans who are quietly supportive of gay candidates to embrace them more publicly,” notes The Journal.
“The implications are deep for a Republican Party whose platform defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman at a time when same-sex marriage is becoming more broadly accepted.”
Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage, which opposes gay marriage and plans to run its own anti-DeMaio spots, paints the ad as a way to drum up financial support from “more liberal parts of the country.”
He’s a vocal critic of those in the GOP who have thrown their financial support to DeMaio, including Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy of California. Georgia Rep. Tom Price has also contributed.
Brown says DeMaio’s positions are “at odds with the GOP platform.” DeMaio disagrees, arguing that he represents “a new generation of Republicans.”
Last year, Brown questioned party leaders who had supported DeMaio, characterizing him as "a trophy candidate they can point to and say to the media, 'See, we're progressive, too. We've evolved.' "
DeMaio is one of three openly gay Republicans running for Congress this year, though the ad featuring him with his partner, Johnathan Hale, is a first. DeMaio hopes voters will look beyond his sexual orientation and cast their ballot based on the issues.
"A majority of Republicans agree with me," he said.
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