Karger tops Paul in Puerto Rico primary

Fred Karger

Although Mitt Romney won Saturday’s Puerto Rico primary with more than 80 percent of the vote, gay candidate Fred Karger out-polled Ron Paul.

Karger received 1.43 percent of the vote, while Paul received 1.22 percent.

In his third primary appearance, this is the first time Karger received more votes than one of the top-tier candidates.

“We spent the past six days campaigning hard in Puerto Rico and it worked,” Karger wrote in a campaign email. “Ron Paul has been in all 20 debates, raised $35 million and has 80 percent name identification, and it looks like we beat him with our message of jobs now, moderation and inclusion.”

Santorum, who said last week that if Puerto Ricans want to be Americans, they should learn English, received 8 percent of the vote. Karger ran TV commercials in Spanish. So some Puerto Rico Republicans are so extreme they would rather vote for a candidate who tells them to change their native, local language than for someone who is gay and moderate on all other issues.

Fewer than 100,000 people are registered as Republicans in Puerto Rico, but 20 delegates were at stake. With more than 50 percent of the votes, Romney gets all of the delegates.

From here, Karger next competes in the April 3 Maryland primary. He also will appear on the ballot in his home-state California primary on June 5.

Later that month he will be one of five candidates on the June 26 Utah ballot. He credits his inclusion there as a result of the work of Utah Log Cabin. Results of that primary will be interesting in the state with the largest Mormon population. After that church funded much of the support for Prop 8 in California that stopped same-sex marriage, Karger started the website Top 10 Craziest Mormon Beliefs.

—  David Taffet

Karger takes his campaign to Michigan

Republican presidential candidate Fred Karger released a new TV commercial called Fed Up that will air on Fox stations and other outlets in Michigan that promotes himself as the only moderate running.

Eleven Republicans will be on the Feb. 28 Michigan ballot including Gov. Rick Perry. Only five candidates — including Karger — continue to campaign.

Karger’s strategy is to get three delegates.

Each of the state’s 14 congressional districts get three delegates. Karger is concentrating his effort in the 8th Congressional District, which includes the part of the state capital, Lansing.

“If we can win one district, then we can walk away with at least three delegates,” Karger said. “As a first-time candidate who has not been allowed in one national debate, it’s an uphill battle to get known.”

Karger will spend the next two weeks in the area to mount a New Hampshire-style campaign with extensive voter contact.

Before traveling to Michigan, Karger was in Washington D.C. to attend the Conservative Political Action Conference. He tried to rent a booth in November but was told they sold out. He was also the only Republican presidential candidate not allowed to speak.

He filed a discrimination complaint against the group, which is likely to go into mediation.

Karger is the first openly gay presidential candidate in U.S. history.

Watch Karger’s new ad after the jump:

—  David Taffet

Karger beat Bachmann by 138 votes in NH

Fred Karger

The New Hampshire Secretary of State’s office corrected vote totals in the New Hampshire primary and openly gay candidate Fred Karger received 485 votes to Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann’s 347. The original vote tally had Karger trailing Bachmann, who dropped out of the race after her last-place finish in Iowa, by three votes. Karger received votes in every New Hampshire county.

“Congresswoman Bachmann was in 12 national debates, raised $10 to $12 million, received massive news coverage, has huge name ID and we beat her in New Hampshire,” Karger wrote in an email blast to supporters today. “She and I had been tied in several recent New Hampshire polls. Early last month I said that I wanted to beat Santorum or Bachmann in New Hampshire. It’s a big win for me.”

Karger is skipping the South Carolina and Florida primaries. From New Hampshire he headed to Michigan, which holds its primary on Feb. 28.

“There are only seven Republicans still in the running on that ballot and [I] am sure there will be a few less after South Carolina and Florida,” he said. “I will be competing in [the] Michigan Primary no matter what.”

—  David Taffet

Perry edges Roemer, Karger in N.H.

As you’ve undoubtedly heard, Mitt Romney captured the New Hampshire primary in a snoozefest Tuesday night with 39 percent of the vote, and experts say the former Massachusetts governor is now well on his way to securing the Republican nomination for president. Romney became the first non-incumbent GOP presidential candidate to win both Iowa and New Hampshire since 1976.

Texas Congressman Ron Paul, R-Lake Jackson, came in a distant second, but continued to shock the world by again finishing with more than 20 percent of the vote. Texas Gov. Rick Perry was sixth, with less than 1 percent or slightly more than 1,700 total votes — about half as many as “other.” According to the New York Times, a breakdown of the other candidates reveals that Perry edged both Buddy Roemer, who had 920 votes, and openly gay candidate Fred Karger, who had 338.

Karger, a long shot who has campaigned almost exclusively in New Hampshire thus far, says he will now shift his efforts to the Feb. 28 primary in Michigan, where he’s also earned a place on the ballot. Perry, meanwhile, released a statement saying he skipped New Hampshire to focus South Carolina, site of the next primary on Saturday, Jan. 21.

“Tonight’s results in New Hampshire show the race for ‘conservative alternative’ to Mitt Romney remains wide open,” Perry said in the statement. “I skipped New Hampshire and aimed my campaign right at conservative South Carolina, where we’ve been campaigning hard and receiving an enthusiastic welcome.”

Perry’s assertion that he skipped New Hampshire is only partly true: He campaigned there and spent a lot of money on advertising before abandoning the Granite State a few weeks ago when polls showed it wasn’t having any impact.

Whether a “conservative alternative” will emerge to challenge Romney and at least lend the appearance of a two-person race for the GOP nomination remains to be seen. Leaders from the religious right will gather at a Texas ranch this weekend to decide whether they can unite behind one of the socially conservative candidates — or perhaps give up and throw their support behind Romney. The other social conservatives, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich, finished tied for fourth in New Hampshire with about 9 percent of the vote. Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, who is decidedly moderate, finished third with 17 percent behind Paul, a libertarian who captured 23 percent.

Huntsman and Paul both declined to sign an anti-gay pledge from the National Organization for Marriage. With some suggesting that this primary could signal that the religious right is losing its grip on the Republican Party, the gay GOP group Log Cabin Republicans released a statement saying the New Hampshire results show that, “inclusion wins.”

“By adding a definitive victory in New Hampshire to his win in Iowa, Gov. Mitt Romney has established himself as a candidate who can unite Republicans and a clear threat to Barack Obama in November,” said R. Clarke Cooper, Log Cabin Republicans executive director. “Gov. Romney was consistently clear in the debates that he opposes discrimination based on sexual orientation. While he continues to support a constitutional amendment banning marriage equality — a position Log Cabin strongly opposes — he is also on record saying that such an amendment has been tried, rejected, and is unlikely to ever succeed. Romney has also taken a position that the repeal of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ has been settled, and he would not seek to reinstitute the ban on open service.

“Congressman Ron Paul’s second place finish underscores New Hampshire’s commitment to the libertarian principles he has consistently championed, which include his votes against the anti-family Federal Marriage Amendment and for the repeal of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’” Cooper added. “Log Cabin Republicans are also pleased with the strong performance of Gov. Jon Huntsman, a solid supporter of civil unions for same-sex couples and a candidate who frequently talked about the need for Americans to do more for gay rights. As the nomination process moves forward, Log Cabin Republicans suggest all the candidates recognize the lesson learned from New Hampshire; that inclusion wins. The 2012 election is about liberty and prosperity, and candidates who keep the focus on the issues most important to Americans, jobs and the economy, will attain victory.”

—  John Wright

Poll shows Perry tied for last in New Hampshire with openly gay candidate Fred Karger

Fred Karger

The latest Suffolk University/7 News poll shows Texas Gov. Rick Perry tied for dead last in New Hampshire with, of all people, openly gay candidate Fred Karger. A screen grab from the poll is above (click to enlarge), and you can view the full PDF here. Karger and Perry are both at 0 percent — or just two out of 500 likely New Hampshire voters. From the Austin Chronicle:

Both were beaten handily by former Louisiana Governor Buddy Roemer, a protectionist flat-taxer who wants to end corporate tax loopholes and dismantle superPACs. Roemer’s five votes actually measured on the polls enough for him to be registered as getting 1% of the vote: His campaign site says that he is aiming for a whopping 5% in New Hampshire on Jan. 10.

Then, as if things could not get worse for Perry, he came in behind Michele Bachmann (four votes) – and she’s suspended her campaign!

So, where in that data do you think Perry’s people started sobbing into their “I miss ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ corporations are people too!” memory book?

—  John Wright

Santorum’s success in Iowa could fuel more discussion of LGBT issues in GOP primary

Mitt Romney, left, and Rick Santorum finished in a virtual tie in the Iowa caucuses, with Romney winning by eight votes.

Perry returns to Texas after 5th-place showing

LISA KEEN | Keen News Service

The Republican presidential field’s most anti-gay candidate scored big Tuesday night when he landed in a virtual tie for first place in the Iowa caucuses with the candidate who has been seen by the media as the party’s most viable candidate against President Barack Obama.

Former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, who took numerous opportunities in his campaign to espouse his opposition to equal rights for LGBT people, secured just eight votes fewer than former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, out of about 60,000 cast for the two men. Each won 25 percent of the 122,000 votes cast for seven candidates, in what may be the closest Republican caucus race in history. The final result was not announced by the state Republican Party until after 1 a.m. Iowa time.

U.S. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas came in third, with 21 percent of the caucus votes. U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich of Georgia followed in fourth place, garnering 13 percent. Texas Gov. Rick Perry took 10 percent of the vote in fifth place, followed by U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota in sixth place with 5 percent of the vote.

Bachmann canceled a trip to South Carolina — which holds its primary Jan. 21 — and was expected to announce Wednesday that she is ending her campaign. Perry, meanwhile, also canceled a planned trip to South Carolina saying, “I’ve decided to return to Texas, assess the results of tonight’s caucus, determine whether there is a path forward for myself in this race.”

Early Wednesday Perry indicated on Twitter that he will  continue his campaign. “And the next leg of the marathon is the Palmetto State…Here we come South Carolina!!!” read a tweet from Perry’s verified Twitter account, which was accompanied by a photo of Perry in jogging gear. A Perry campaign source reportedly told CNN that, “We’re back on.”

Openly gay candidate Fred Karger did not compete in the Iowa caucuses. The field’s only candidate supportive of legal recognition of same-sex relationships (albeit through civil unions only), former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, claimed less than 1 percent of the vote.

Although an Iowa victory is an important symbolic victory, especially in the eyes of the media, it does not secure any of the state’s eventual 25 delegates to the Republican national convention.

Also, polls nationally and in other key states suggest Santorum still has an uphill battle for the nomination. The latest national poll, by Gallup, showed Santorum in fifth place with only 6 percent of support from 1,000 Republican voters surveyed. Romney led the field with 24 percent. The poll was conducted from Dec. 26 to Jan. 2.

A CNN poll of New Hampshire voters on Tuesday night after Santorum’s success showed an increase in support for Santorum — to 10 percent, twice what it was in late December. But Romney held fast to his 47 percent of the New Hampshire support, Paul held onto 17 percent, and Huntsman held onto 13 percent.

Santorum’s success in Iowa will probably bring increased attention and support for his passionately proclaimed anti-gay views. Those views and his toughly stated opposition to abortion appeared to fuel his strong showing in the caucuses. A CNN entrance poll indicated that 84 percent of those participating described themselves as either “very conservative” (47 percent) or “somewhat conservative” (37 percent). The majority of those participants (54 percent) voted for Santorum.

Fifty-seven percent of participants also described themselves as “white evangelical/born-again Christians.” And 32 percent of those supported Santorum.

The most important issue for Santorum supporters in Iowa, was abortion, according to CNN. (CNN apparently did not ask about same-sex marriage on the entrance poll.) For Romney supporters, it was the economy.

“[N]o other candidate has made opposing basic rights for LGBT Americans such a guiding principle of his or her public life,” said Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign.

One CNN commentator, Gloria Borger, suggested Santorum’s ascension might draw Romney into more discussions about social issues, such as same-sex marriage. However, Santorum himself took his rhetoric down a notch during his remarks Tuesday night.

Santorum, on stage with a large crowd of supporters, thanked his wife Karen, God and Iowa. He said “rights come to us from God,” he talked about the need for “a plan that includes everyone,” and he talked about the “dignity of every human life.” He said that “when the family breaks down, the economy struggles.” But, despite repeatedly emphasizing his opposition to same-sex marriage throughout his campaign, Santorum did not mention his definition of marriage as being “one man and one woman.”

Romney, on stage with his wife and four of his sons, congratulated Santorum for his success and noted, at 12:40 a.m. Wednesday, that he did not yet know what the final result would be. (Two percent of the vote was yet to be counted, and Romney was leading by only 41 votes. Before he finished his speech, Santorum was leading by five votes.) Romney said nothing about same-sex marriage either, and said “freedom is a gift from God.”

Santorum, who polled near the bottom of the field with only single-digit support for months on end, jumped ahead in the polls in the last few days before the caucus. Bob Vander Platts, one of the leaders against same-sex marriage in Iowa, reportedly took some credit for Santorum’s surge, which started about a week after Vander Platts’ group, The Family Leader, endorsed Santorum.

Both national and local media gave much credit to Santorum’s decision to campaign in every one of Iowa’s 99 counties for his victory. And the Des Moines Register pre-caucus poll indicated that Santorum’s supporters showed a greater likelihood of showing up at the caucuses (76 percent) than those of other candidates.

More than 40 percent of Iowa Republicans were undecided going into the caucuses.

In remarks after most media declared him the third place candidate in Iowa, Paul emphasized the importance of staying faithful to the Constitution and limiting government interference in private lives. Perry, who went on stage with just his wife and three kids, mostly read from a letter from a supporter.

An unusually low-key Bachmann initially vowed to continue her campaign, but she, too, read her remarks to the crowd, including a reiteration of her promise of “protecting marriage between one man and one woman.”

The openly gay Karger did not compete in the Iowa caucuses, saying he knew the turnout would be “mostly social conservatives” and that his strongholds of support there, the colleges, were not in session.

Karger was in New Hampshire Tuesday night, where he has been campaigning for months. He said that, regardless of how he does in New Hampshire’s primary, Jan. 10, “I’ll absolutely stay in all primaries and caucuses.”

CNN commentator Al Sharpton said Santorum’s success in the race is good for Democrats.

“As long as a Santorum is in the race, Romney’s going to have to keep playing to the right,” said Sharpton, “and the longer he has to debate and stay to the right, he loses the middle.”

Log Cabin Republicans Executive Director R. Clarke Cooper issued a state early Wednesday morning saying that Romney was “one of the best” of the Republican candidates in Iowa
 on issues affecting LGBT Americans.

“By contrast,” said Cooper, “Sen. Santorum rose by appealing
 to a uniquely socially conservative electorate. The divisive social issue politics which
 helped Santorum’s campaign in Iowa will only hurt him in New Hampshire and beyond
 as voters learn more about his record. Winning the White House will require the politics 
of addition, not division.

“If using gay and lesbian Americans as a wedge can’t score enough political points to win more than 25 percent in Iowa,” said Cooper, “it certainly won’t help the Republican nominee in November.”

Jimmy LaSalvia, head of GOProud, a national gay conservative group, issued a statement that ignored Santorum’s success in Iowa. Instead, LaSalvia praised Romney and Paul on taking “two of the three top spots in Iowa” and said, “It is clear that the message of economic renewal and limited government is resonating with Republican voters.”

“While there are certainly big differences between Governor Romney and Congressman Paul, especially when it comes to foreign policy,” said LaSalvia, “both chose to emphasize issues like the economy and the size of government over demonizing gay people. We are pleased to see that so many Republicans in Iowa are focused on the issues that unite us as conservatives, instead of the side show issues.”

There are two debates this weekend. The first is in New Hampshire, Saturday at 9 p.m. on ABC. The latter is on NBC’s Meet the Press program on Sunday at 9 a.m.

Senior political writer John Wright contributed to this report.

© 2012 by Keen News Service. All rights reserved.

—  John Wright

Karger remains in the race but focused on NH

Fred Karger

The Iowa caucus is tonight and one name that has been mentioned in very few news reports is openly gay candidate Fred Karger.

Karger is mostly sitting out Iowa but has spent more time campaigning in New Hampshire than any other candidate. Two recent polls have him tied with Michele Bachman and Rick Santorum in that state.

The New Hampshire primary takes place Tuesday, Jan. 10.

While his bid was always considered a long shot, he is one of just eight Republicans still left in the race. Herman Cain suspended his campaign. Buddy Roemer is seeking the nomination of Americans Elect. One candidate who is not anti-gay, Gary Johnson, announced last week that he will seek the nomination of the Libertarian Party, rather than the Republican Party. Thaddeus McCotter, another candidate who has been excluded from all of the debates, also left the race.

So while Karger is a long shot, he also remains in the narrowing field along with Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, John Huntsman, Ron Paul, Rick Perry, Mitt Romney and Santorum.

Karger has been excluded from the debates to keep him from embarrassing the other Republicans over their homophobia.

To keep him from participating in the debates, rules were changed to refuse him a place on stage with other candidates. Those rules included raising the percentage candidates had to poll to qualify and increasing the number of polls in which a candidate had to score that higher percentage. Then polls where he scored the required 2 percent were discounted.

Still, Karger continues in the Republican race, but don’t look for him until next Tuesday.

While other candidates who don’t finish in the top three may be considered big losers in the Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary, Karger will be considered a big winner if he finishes with more than 1 percent of the vote in New Hampshire or with more votes than any of the other better-known candidates.

—  David Taffet

Perry included in NH debate even though he does not qualify

Fred Karger

Fred Karger, the first Republican to declare his run for the White House this year, has been shut out of all of the debates but has been a good watchdog on the other Republican candidates. He found that Texas Gov. Rick Perry does not qualify to be in Tuesday’s Republican presidential debate.

Over the weekend Karger sent a complaint to New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg who also owns Bloomberg News. That organization is the sponsor of a debate at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire along with Washington Post and WBIN TV.

According to Karger’s research, candidates had to meet all four of the following criteria to participate:

A. Received measurable popular support in a range of national polls.

B. Campaign reported at least half a million dollars raised in its FEC filing through the 2011 second quarter reporting period.

C. Is a legally qualified candidate for the Republican nomination for President.

D. Participated in at least three nationally televised Republican Presidential debates during the 2012 election cycle.

Karger, who is gay, has been kept out of the debates because of the first criteria. The original standard was a candidate had to poll 1 percent in five national polls. Once Karger met that baseline, sponsoring news organizations raised the percent and have continued keeping him out.

His campaign checked the eight candidates who were invited to the Dartmouth debate and found that Rick Perry does not qualify, even though he will be included.

“Rick Perry was not a candidate by the end of 2nd quarter and has not filed any FEC fundraising reports,” Karger wrote in an email to Dallas Voice and other news organizations so he does not qualify under criteria B.

Perry entered the race on Aug. 12 and will not have to file a report with the Federal Election Commission until the end of this quarter.

—  David Taffet

FEC looking into Karger’s complaint against Fox

Fred Karger

Gay presidential candidate Fred Karger says he received confirmation today from the Federal Election Commission that it is looking into a complaint he filed against Fox News owner Rupert Murdoch.

Karger charges that he was excluded from an Aug. 11 Republican presidential debate even though he met all of the requirements.

Murdoch must now respond to the charges.

Karger filed an 82-page complaint under the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971. H claims he met Fox’s “pre-established objective criteria.”

Among the requirements was polling at an average of 1 percent in five national polls.

Karger claims he met that requirement when he received 2 percent in the Harris Interactive national survey released on Aug. 4. In that poll he tied with former Govs. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota and Jon Huntsman of Utah, both of whom were allowed in the debate.

Karger claims that after he met the requirement, Fox changed its criteria to exclude him.

“I qualified for last month’s Fox News Channel Debate fair-and-square, and was fully expecting to be on that stage in Ames,” Karger said. “For some reason, Fox News did not want me debating the other presidential candidates.”

He hopes the FEC acts quickly so that Fox will be forced to allow him to participate in the next Fox debate, scheduled for Sept. 22 in Orlando.

“The FEC has very specific rules dealing with these debates, and Fox certainly appears to have broken them,” Karger said.

—  David Taffet

Fox continues to exclude Karger from debates

Fred Karger

Fred Karger, the first openly gay person to file with the Federal Election Commission to run for president, has spent more time campaigning in New Hampshire than any other candidate and is preparing to participate in the Iowa Straw Poll. And although Karger meets all criteria, Fox News is not allowing him to participate in the upcoming candidate’s debate in Iowa.

“I read in the press like everyone else on Friday that in spite of meeting all its debate criteria, Fox News still refuses to allow me a place on the stage in Ames, Iowa this Thursday evening,” Karger wrote. “By not including me, even though I have qualified for the debate, Fox News appears to be in violation of Federal Election Commission rules governing all Presidential Debates. Fox released its debate criteria two weeks ago, which I clearly have met.”

Attorneys for the Karger campaign are preparing a complaint to be filed with the FEC.

Among the Fox News criteria is that to qualify for the debate, a candidate must average 1 percent in five national polls. In a recent Harris Interactive poll, Karger received 2 percent. He also received 1 percent in a Zogby poll and others.

In its response to the Karger campaign, Fox News disqualified both polls, but the network regularly cites the Zogby poll in its coverage.

In a Synovate Study released this week, Karger polls at 1 percent. Fox debate participants Rick Santorum and Jon Huntsman were at just 2 percent in the same poll. Tim Pawlenty received 2 percent in the Harris poll and will also participate in the Fox debate.

The Los Angeles Times ran a story on Karger today discounting any chance of his winning. But they wrote that he has been haunted by the memory of his gay uncle who committed suicide and that he has a message to LGBT youth:

“I want to send the message to gay younger people and older people and everyone in between that you can do anything you want in life, and don’t feel bad about yourself and don’t feel you have to live your life the way I did,” Karger told the newspaper.

—  David Taffet