The campaigns for Republican presidential contenders Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, Jon Huntsman, and Ron Paul have each selected gay Republicans to run with them as candidates for delegate to the Republican National Convention next year in D.C.’s April 3 presidential primary.
Among the gay delegate candidates selected by Huntsman’s D.C. campaign is R. Clarke Cooper, executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans.
Cooper said he’s backing Huntsman as an individual, not as Log Cabin’s executive director. He said the national Log Cabin group won’t decide whether to endorse a candidate for president until the Republican convention convenes Aug. 27 in Tampa, Fla.
“Huntsman is a conservative hero who can unite the broader conservative movement and secure the votes necessary to beat Obama in 2012,” Cooper said. “Further, Huntsman believes in the equality of people born under the same constitution and is a strong Republican voice for the LGBT community.”
Huntsman, the former governor of Utah, says he supports civil unions for gays and lesbians, the only GOP presidential contender to back any form of legal recognition for same-sex couples. He is considered the most LGBT-supportive of the Republicans running for president.
But he trails far behind the other candidates in national polls, leading most political observers to conclude he has little chance of capturing the Republican nomination for president.
The Gingrich campaign selected as D.C. delegate candidates gay Republican activists Marc Morgan and Timothy Day. Both ran unsuccessfully in 2010 for seats on the D.C. City Council and both are members of Log Cabin Republicans of Washington.
The Romney campaign, meanwhile, recruited as a delegate candidate Rachel Hoff, who ran as an out lesbian last year for the presidency of the Young Republican Federation, a national GOP youth group.
Hoff finished in second place in that contest but made a positive impression on party leaders, leading to her selection as a member of the D.C. Republican Committee, according to the DCRC’s gay chair, Robert Kabel.
“I’m pretty pleased that we have openly gay people serving on all of these delegations either as delegates or alternates,” Kabel said. “I think that’s terrific. And the campaigns are all going to know that they are putting gay folks on their delegations.”
Morgan said he decided to support Gingrich knowing that the former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives opposes same-sex marriage and has declined to support other LGBT civil rights related bills pending in Congress.
But he said Gingrich met with Log Cabin Republican officials during his tenure as House speaker and has been supportive of what Morgan called “very progressive” AIDS-related proposals in Georgia, where Gingrich’s congressional district was located.
“What made me decide to support him is his pro-growth jobs and prosperity plan,” said Morgan, referring to Gingrich’s call for lowering taxes and overhauling the nation’s tax and government regulatory policies. “That made a lot of sense to me and I definitely support that.”
As of late this week, Republican presidential candidates Rick Perry, the governor of Texas; Michele Bachmann, the congresswoman from Minnesota; and Rick Santorum, the former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania, had not filed to run in the D.C. primary. The deadline for filing is Jan. 4.The three have emerged as the most outspoken opponents of LGBT-related issues on the presidential campaign trail.
President Barack Obama’s campaign filed papers last month for Obama to run in the D.C. primary. Under rules established by the D.C. Democratic Party, delegate and alternate delegate candidates pledged to Obama will be selected at a March 3 Democratic caucus on the campus of the University of the District of Columbia. All registered Democrats in D.C. are eligible to vote in the caucus.
As they have in past D.C. presidential election years, many LGBT Democrats are expected to enter their names as delegate candidates at the caucus. In past years, the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, the city’s largest LGBT political group, has backed a slate of delegate candidates competing in the Democratic caucus.
Similar to the Republicans, Democratic Party rules require that all delegate candidates be approved by the Democratic presidential campaigns – in this case, the Obama campaign, before they can be eligible to run as a delegate candidate in the D.C. caucus.
The national Republican Party has allocated 16 delegates and 16 alternate delegates for D.C. to represent a presidential candidate at the Republican National Convention. The D.C. Republican Party this year chose to put in place a winner-take-all primary, allowing the candidate winning the most votes in the April 3 primary to take all 16 delegates and 16 alternates.
Under rules established for the primary by the D.C. Republican Committee, the names of the delegate and alternate delegate candidates will not appear on the ballot beside the name of the presidential candidate to whom they are pledged to support.
However, according to Paul Craney, a spokesperson for the D.C. Republican Party, a list of the Republican delegate and alternate delegate candidates’ names will be available at the polls for Republican voters to inspect before they cast their ballot.
In addition to Cooper, who is running as an alternate delegate candidate pledged to Huntsman, gay Republican David Black is running as a delegate candidate for Huntsman.
In addition to Hoff, who is running as a delegate candidate pledged to Romney, gay GOP activists Jose Cunningham and David Trebing are running as alternate delegate candidates pledged to Romney.
Gay Republican Terry Tahir is the only known gay person running on the delegate or alternate slate for the campaign of Ron Paul. Tahir is running as a delegate candidate.
Gay Republican sources said several other gays were running as delegate or alternate candidates for Huntsman and Gingrich, but the Blade could not reach them by press time to confirm whether they were out.