Boehner rakes in cash for openly gay Republican candidate
The Hill | October 5, 2014
Speaker John Boehner vowed last year that he’d back gay GOP candidates. Now, he’s making good on his word.
The Ohio Republican is heading to California this week, where he’ll raise cash for openly gay Republican candidate Carl DeMaio in defiance of several conservative groups.
Boehner’s trip to the Golden State marks the second leg of his fall tour to expand House Republicans’ 17-seat majority. The GOP’s efforts to broaden the playing field include races in blue states New York, New England and California, and support for gay candidates DeMaio and Massachusetts’s Richard Tisei.
“I’m disappointed but not terribly surprised that some extreme far right groups would rather lose elections than win elections, and have been very destructive for so many years within the Republican Party,” DeMaio said in a phone interview. “I’m glad so many people are finally realizing that and standing up to that, saying we may not agree on all issues but we agree on the vast majority of issues.”
Asked specifically whether Boehner’s help sends an important political message, DeMaio did not mention the Speaker by name: “We welcome all support from wherever it comes from. … We’re all coming together in a broad-based campaign not only to win a seat but send a national message that the Republican Party can be more inclusive and positive.”
Conservative groups including the Family Research Council and National Organization for Marriage fired off a letter last week to Boehner, National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) Chairman Greg Walden (Ore.) and Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) chiding them for backing DeMaio and Tisei, as well as Senate hopeful Monica Wehby (Ore.), who supports gay marriage.
“Carl DeMaio, Richard Tisei and Monica Wehby are antithetical to the Republican platform,” the conservative groups wrote. “Mr. DeMaio supports and aggressively advocates for the redefinition of marriage, and welcomed the judicial activism of the federal courts which stripped the people of California of their votes in support of maintaining marriage as the union of one man and one woman.”
Last December, Boehner shot down calls for the NRCC to abandon gay GOP candidates, arguing the party needed to make better inroads with gays, women and minorities following the party’s poor showing in the 2012 election.
Through his various fundraising committees, Boehner has donated the maximum $14,000 to both DeMaio and Tisei this cycle, records show. The NRCC also is spending big in those races, pouring $2.3 million to help DeMaio in his bid to unseat freshman Rep. Scott Peters (D-Calif.). It’s spending another $1 million to prop up Tisei’s campaign against Democratic nominee Seth Moulton, who ousted Rep. John Tierney (D-Mass.) in the primary.
“Our decisions on the Republican nominees we support will not be based on race, gender or sexual orientation, but will be based on the strength of their candidacy and their ability to defeat Democrats,” NRCC spokesman Ian Prior said.
DeMaio, 40, a former San Diego City councilor who was defeated by Democrat Bob Filner in the 2012 mayor’s race, hasn’t shied away from his sexual orientation or support for gay marriage: a campaign ad featured him and his partner, Jonathan Hale, holding hands during a San Diego LGBT parade.