House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) is at the center of tension between social conservatives and pro-LGBT Republicans over his decision to fundraise for Republican California congressional candidate Carl DeMaio, who is openly gay.
Boehner will travel to California this week to raise money for the congressional hopeful, according to a report in The Hill on Monday, a move that drew criticism from the Family Research Council Action Fund and the National Organization for Marriage in a Sept. 25 letter. The Log Cabin Republicans, who advocate for including openly gay and lesbian people in the party, slammed the criticism of Boehner.
“I can’t speak for the Speaker and I think his mission is crystal clear and it’s that he wants to win,” Log Cabin Republicans executive director Greg T. Angelo told TPM on Monday.
“For the most part those [criticizing Boehner for boosting a pro-gay candidate] are outliers in the GOP,” Angelo insisted, adding “the numbers of Republicans who get it, who have been contributing to his campaign going from grassroots right on up to House leadership I think shows that there are Republicans who want to win and Republicans who don’t and it’s the Republicans who want to win who are supporting Carl DeMaio and it’s the Republicans who don’t who are seemingly hellbent on sabotaging victories but they’re not going to be successful ultimately in the end.”
DeMaio himself blasted the conservative anti-LGBT groups in an interview with The Hill as extreme organizations that “would rather lose elections than win elections.”
But DeMaio also stopped short of heaping too much praise on Boehner, saying only “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.”
Angelo refrained from focusing on Boehner too.
“If I was in his shoes I would be saying the same thing in that I welcome the support of anyone who believes in my campaign,” Angelo said. “I don’t read too much into that. Mr. DeMaio is certainly not refusing Boehner’s assistance on this front.”
That letter falls in line with sentiments top NOM staffers expressed at the Values Voter Summit in September. As TPM previously reported, at a panel on the future of marriage equality, Brian Brown, the president of NOM, not only said his group would not support pro-same sex marriage candidates, they would actively oppose them. Brown mentioned by name DeMaio and Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH).
“We are going to work to defeat Republicans who oppose us on gay marriage,” Brown said at the panel.
But for those groups the fight against gay marriage seemed to get more difficult. The Supreme Court refused to take up gay marriage appeals from Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin. That refusal ends delays for same-sex couples to get married in those states.
DeMaio is running to defeat Rep. Scott Peters (D-CA). Polling is sparse but a recent Survey USA poll found Peters leading DeMaio by just 1 percentage point.