Tom Campbell, a former Republican congressman from California, decided late last year to drop his bid for Governor of the Golden State and instead join the race the GOP Senate primary in the bid to unseat Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer.
Early on, some feared that Campbell’s entry would split the socially moderate vote between Campbell and Carly Fiorina, the former head of Hewlett-Packard, leaving social conservative, State Senator Chuck Devore, as the winner. Instead, Devore is trailing in third, while Fiorina and Campbell duke it out.
In another time, heck, in another universe, Campbell would be the clear winner in a GOP Primary. He is what might have passed for a California Republican 20 years ago: fiscally conservative and socially moderate. He was against Prop 8 which banned gay marriage in 2008 and has long supported same sex marriage. Indeed, Log Cabin Republicans, one of two gay Republican groups, has endorsed Campbell because of his pro-same-sex marriage stance.
As I said, in another time, Campbell would be an easy winner. But this is not another time. Because we live in an era where ideological purity seems to matter more and more, Campbell is receiving the brunt of some unfair attacks by other groups.
One of those groups happens to be the other gay Republican group, GOProud. This group split off from Log Cabin a year ago because they thought Log Cabin spent too much time working with Democrats and not enough carrying the conservative agenda. GOProud has done some very ballsy things, such as co-sponsor this year’s CPAC conference. In many ways, the split between Log Cabin and GOProud mirrors the larger debate taking place in the GOP. Log Cabin tends to be a “broad church” movement in that it is made up of different kinds of Republicans, who all agree on the promotion of gay equality. So, while the group does espouse conservative values and does criticize the Democrats on issues other than gay rights, they are focused on the issue of gay civil rights and they exclude talking about other issues like abortion.
GOProud is a little different. It tends to be in tune with the conservative movement and tackles the same issues that the wider movement deals with, such as taxes.
So with that, GOProud has come out against supporting Tom Campbell. Why would a gay GOP not support a pol that supports gay marriage? Because he hasn’t signed a no-tax pledge. In a press release, they denounce Campbell by bringing up the ghost of Dede Scozzafava, the New York Republican who was forced from a congressional race by her far right opponent, Doug Hoffman. The press release spins its own view of that New York race, making Scozzafava the person who lost the long held GOP seat to the Democrats. Here is a snippet of the press release below:
Today, GOProud, the only national organization representing gay conservatives and their allies, unveiled a new advertising campaign against U.S. Senate candidate and former Rep. Tom Campbell (R-CA). “Tom Campbell refuses to sign the pledge not to raise taxes, supported increasing the income tax on California voters, and proposed a 32 cents a gallon increase in the gas tax,” said Jimmy LaSalvia, Executive Director of GOProud. “What kind of Republican refuses to sign the pledge not to raise taxes? Even a liberal like Dede Scozzafava was willing to do so. California voters deserve to know the truth about Tom Campbell.”
The ad, entitled “Wrong on Taxes,” will initially air as a web ad targeting the most likely Republican primary voters. The group plans to run the ad on television and radio, as well as on the web.
Last year, Dede Scozzafava’s candidacy divided Republicans and cost the party a seat in Congress. “Tom Campbell is Dede without the dress. A candidate with artificially high poll numbers and a record far outside the Republican main stream,” continued LaSalvia.
“The more Republican primary voters learn about Tom Campbell, the more it will become clear that his nomination would be a disaster for our party,” said LaSalvia. “Tom Campbell’s candidacy would divide the Republican Party at a time when we need to be united to turn back Barbara Boxer and her Democratic colleagues’ radical left wing agenda on Capitol Hill.”
You can watch the video below:
I guess GOProud can do what they want on this, but it seems to me that by basically not supporting Campbell, it basically agrees with the National Organization for Marriage, which has been targeting Campbell for his support of gay marriage. In a recent post they stated that Campbell is basically no better than Barbara Boxer:
Today the National Organization for Marriage launched a new TV ad campaign throughout California entitled “Two peas, same liberal pod,” highlighting Republican Senate candidate Tom Campbell’s support for income tax and gas tax increases, as well as his support for same-sex marriage — all positions shared with Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer.
NOM Executive Director Brian Brown explained: “GOP voters believe in tax cuts, the family, and national defense. They oppose same-sex marriage by a 4-1 margin. They deserve to know that Tom Campbell is a pro-tax, pro-choice, pro-gay marriage Republican — not much different from Barbara Boxer on many key issues.”
Below is their ad, which isn’t that different from the GOProud add:
It seems to me that if a Republican supports gay marriage, a gay Republican group should lend its support to him or her instead of seeking their defeat. But GOProud isn’t doing that. Instead they are doing what a lot of Republican have done as of late, setting up a litmus test and deciding who is in or out based on how “perfect” they are.
In the end, attacking Campbell for not being sufficiently conservative will not help make the GOP more inclusive in the long run. It will only help our enemies.