Openly gay candidate Fred Karger is 1st Republican to file to run for president in 2012

Fred Karger

Fred Karger, an openly gay Republican, this morning became the first person to file paperwork with the Federal Election Commission to run for president in 2012.

He becomes the first openly gay candidate to ever run for president.

Karger has worked on a variety of Republican campaigns including Reagan-Bush in 1984. From 1977 until he retired in 2004, he was vice president of the Dolphin Group, a political consulting company.

In 2008, he founded and became co-director of Californians Against Hate in reaction to Proposition 8. He filed formal ethics violation complaints leading to investigations of the Mormon Church and the National Organization for Marriage in California and Maine. He organized four boycotts of companies that donated more than $100,000 to the Yes on 8 campaign.

Karger doesn’t expect to do well among religious conservatives, but his strategy is to win in early primary and caucus states New Hampshire and Iowa. Both of those states have large numbers of independent voters and both have legalized same-sex marriage.

By this time in the 2008 campaign cycle, at least a dozen candidates had announced that they were running in the two parties. Yesterday, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty announced he was forming an exploratory committee, the first step in becoming a candidate. He is the only candidate other than Karger to formalize his plans.

Other Republicans have indicated that they are deciding whether to run, but no others have announced. Former Ark. Gov. Mike Huckabee said he would have to walk away from a lucrative deal with Fox to run. Donald Trump said he’s considering a run but due to contractual constraints, he can’t make an announcement until the season of The Apprentice ends.

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie are also potential candidates. Jimmy McMillan, the New Yorker who ran for mayor on the Rent Is Too Damn High Party, said he plans to run as a Republican.

Although Karger is the first openly gay man to run for president, James Buchanan, the 15th president, is the only one to have never married and was probably gay. He lived with Franklin Pierce’s Vice President Rufus King whose nicknames were Aunt Fancy, Miss Nancy and Mrs. Buchanan. King died while in office. Nieces of the two men destroyed their correspondence after their deaths so little written evidence of their relationship remains.

—  David Taffet