Karger seeking to be included in CNN debate

Fred Karger

Fred Karger, the openly gay candidate seeking the 2012 Republican nomination for president, is trying to get invited to the June 13 CNN debate in Manchester, N.H.

The first debate was held in South Carolina and was sponsored by Fox, which chose not to invite Karger because the network claimed he didn’t meet its criteria. One requirement was that each participant poll at least 1 percent in five polls. But Karger does poll that high in polls by Zogby, Fox News, CNN, ABC/Washington Post and CNN.

Among Karger’s other claims to legitimacy are the fact that he has raised four times the minimum amount seen as the Federal Election Commission’s threshold to be considered a serious candidate.

Karger was the first to run statewide commercials in New Hampshire. He was the first to be interviewed on BBC’s HardTalk. He has strong student support. In a New Hampshire straw poll, he beat Mitt Romney by 2 percent.

Karger says he’s the only moderate running and claims to have more political experience than any of the other candidates. Karger worked for Ronald Reagan beginning with his first campaign.

Karger wrote a letter to CNN and co-sponsors WMUR-TV and the New Hampshire Union Leader.

“I have yet to receive an invitation,” he said.

Unlike Fox, which made its eligibility requirements public and still excluded Karger even though he met them, CNN isn’t disclosing them. If he’s not included, we’ll never officially know that CNN just doesn’t want to include the gay guy with moderate views who can embarrass the rest of the fine Republican field.

—  David Taffet

WATCH: Fred Karger’s New Hampshire TV ad

Fred Karger

Openly gay Republican candidate Fred Karger, profiled in last week’s Dallas Voice, began campaigning in New Hampshire this week. His TV ads began running in Manchester on broadcast TV and on cable throughout the state.

The ad, dubbed “Demon Frisbee,” will run in 30-second and one-minute versions. A longer Internet version is below. They highlight the campaign theme “Bringing Back the American Spirit – Optimism and Getting Along,” but also incorporate the campaign’s self-deprecating slogan “Fred Who?”

The spot by filmmaker John Keitel is designed to let New Hampshire voters know that Karger and his volunteers will walk door-to-door all over New Hampshire and give away Fred Frisbees to voters, Karger wrote in an email to Dallas Voice.

New Hampshire holds the first presidential primary. Although officially scheduled for the second Tuesday in March, it could be moved up if another state decides to hold a primary before then. The state’s laws require that the primary be held seven days before any other state.

—  David Taffet

Dark horse Karger serious about presidential bid

Fred Karger speaks during the Log Cabin Republicans National Convention at the Hilton Anatole on April 29. (John Wright/Dallas Voice)

Openly gay candidate has Republican political experience that dates back to Gerald Ford and Reagan’s ’84 campaign

DAVID TAFFET | Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

Fred Karger made history when he became not only the first gay candidate to register a run for the White House with the Federal Elections Commission, but also the first Jewish person ever to pursue the Republican nomination.

While he’s proud to be both, during a recent visit to Dallas Karger said he wants to “put the gay thing behind me.”

He said he looks forward to an article about his run for president that identified him as simply a presidential candidate rather than the gay presidential candidate.

Karger was in Dallas for the national Log Cabin Republicans convention held at the Anatole Hotel last weekend. He addressed the group at the opening meeting on Friday, April 29.

Karger was in Dallas looking for Log Cabin support, saying he wants them “to go out on a limb for me.”

While Karger understands his chances of receiving the Republican nomination are slim, he said he is running a serious campaign, and he hopes to be the first presidential candidate to receive an endorsement from the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund.

Karger said he plans to participate in the debates, hoping to use his time to temper the anti-gay rhetoric of his party’s other presidential hopefuls.

And in a way, his campaign is a grand “It Gets Better” video. He said his visits to gay straight alliances and meetings with college groups around the country encouraged him to run so he could show LGBT youth that they can achieve anything. In his press release announcing his candidacy, Karger dedicated the day to the six gay teens who took their lives last fall.

Since forming his campaign committee a few weeks ago, Karger said he has made headway in the polls. In a Fox News poll out last week, Karger got 1 percent. That’s ahead of Buddy Roemer, Rudy Giuliani and Haley Barbour, all considered serious possibilities.

The poll was important to Karger, who wanted to be included in the first Republican, debate, sponsored by Fox News and held in South Carolina on Thursday night. To be included, he needed to be at 1 percent in five polls, to have a presidential committee or exploratory committee and pay a $25,000 entrance fee.

At this point, Karger is the only Republican with a campaign committee who is registered with the FEC. Several other candidates are in the exploratory stage.

He has ranked high enough in several polls, including two by Huffington Post. In a March 31 Saint Anselm College Republicans straw poll he finished first, ahead of Mitt Romney, and with three times the votes of Donald Trump, Tim Pawlenty or Ron Paul, and 10 times the votes of Mike Huckabee.

However, the Republican Party excluded Karger while allowing candidates like Herman Cain, the former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza.

Karger said the Saint Anselm poll is significant to him because that school is in New Hampshire, the state with the first primary.

Karger spent his career as a political strategist and his strategy in this election is to take the first primary and caucus states — Iowa and New Hampshire, both of which legally recognize same-sex marriage. Both are also heavily independent — 42 percent in New Hampshire and 37 percent in Iowa.

Karger said that people have left both parties in those states, but mostly the Republican Party because his party has moved too far to the right.

Karger has the background to be taken as a credible candidate by Republicans. He ran Ronald Reagan’s 1984 campaign, and he worked with Lee Atwater on the Willie Horton ads that helped propel George H.W. Bush into the White House.

Karger was also part of the Gerald Ford campaign committee.

Dolphin Group, Karger’s political consulting firm, has worked on hundreds of local and state elections for Republicans around the country for more than 30 years, he said.

After selling Dolphin Group, Karger became a different type of political activist.

When California’s Proposition 8 got on the ballot challenging same-sex marriage, Karger founded Californians Against Hate.

He initiated boycotts, including one targeting the Hyatt in San Diego whose owner was a major funder of Prop 8. It cost the company $1 million per month, according to the hotel’s own estimate.

Karger investigated the power of the Mormon Church in influencing votes, and after a 19-month investigation, the church was found guilty on 13 counts of campaign reporting violations.

That was the first time the California Fair Political Practices Commission had found a religion guilty of election irregularities.

“No one has gone against NOM like I have,” Karger said.

Karger noted that he battled Maggie Gallagher and the National Organization for Marriage and helped uncover their disregard for Maine’s election laws. NOM was ordered to follow election law and disclose its political contributors.

“Maggie Gallagher has blood on her hands,” Karger said, blaming the hate from her organization for the deaths of gay teens.

He called her disgusting and said he wonders why, if she believes in traditional marriage so much, she doesn’t wear a wedding ring.

“She a walking time bomb,” Karger said of Gallagher’s behavior.

Karger hardly sounds like a typical Republican when he discusses LGBT equality issues and he supported Hillary Clinton in the 2008 election. So he explained why he still calls himself a Republican.

“I grew up with Nelson Rockefeller,” he said. “I still believe in the principles of the Republican Party,” such as “keeping government out of our lives.”

And, he said, staying out of our lives includes allowing a woman the right to choose.

“I’m strong on national defense,” Karger added. “I’m a strong law and order guy.”

Rockefeller is best known as the governor who built New York’s state university system, and education is a top priority for Karger.

Karger said he wants to bring back that GOP of yesterday.

“I know there are a lot of dissatisfied centrists,” he said, and that’s who he’s appealing to.

He said he has planned his attack on his Republican opponents.

He’s going after Romney’s ties to the Mormon Church.

Just as Mike Dukakis was vulnerable on the release of Willie Horton, a prisoner who committed violent felonies after his parole, he said Huckabee should be too. Huckabee released Maurice Clemmons who later killed four police officers.

“Huckabee never showed remorse,” he said.

And without fanfare, presidential candidate Karger put his birth certificate on his website. He said he figures Donald Trump would find other things to attack him on, so why give him this one.

While running, he especially wants gay youth to hear his message.

“Come out to family, friends, coworkers,” he said.

—  John Wright

Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson could be another pro-marriage GOP presidential candidate

Gary Johnson

Former Republican New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson (1995-2003) will run for president, according to the best source for Republican news, Fox News.

Fox reports that Johnson, who favors same-sex marriage, abortion rights and legalizing marijuana, will skip forming an exploratory committee and announce his candidacy by the end of April.

Johnson doesn’t sound like a Republican. He has said, “I don’t think you’ll ever hear me invoking God in anything I do.” He said he doesn’t listen to Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh.

On Arizona’s immigration law, he said it would lead to racial profiling. And of the 10-foot wall being built across parts of the border with Mexico, he said, “A 10-foot wall requires an 11-foot ladder.” He also said Iraq and Afghanistan do not threaten our security and we shouldn’t be there.

So why is Johnson running as a Republican? His main issue is the economy. He believes in slashing spending and his four main targets are Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and defense.

The only announced candidate for the Republican nomination as of the end of March was Fred Karger, who is openly gay and created Californians Against Hate to oppose Prop 8 in California.

Johnson’s strategy is similar to Karger’s, which is to win in the first primary and caucus states — New Hampshire and Iowa — both of which have same-sex marriage.

Anti-gay candidates like Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney have not announced their intentions. Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty has opened an exploratory committee, and GOP Congresswoman Michele Bachmann reportedly plans to. Meanwhile, Donald Trump said he can’t announce his candidacy until the end of the current season of Celebrity Apprentice. At least if Trump wins, we’ll always know where his priorities are — with his employers at defense contractor and NBC-owner GE.

—  David Taffet

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

California commission fines Mormon church $5K for failing to report Prop 8 contributions

Fred Karger
Fred Karger

The California Fair Political Practices Commission has ordered the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to pay a $5,538 fine after the church failed to properly report its contributions — about $37,000 — to the 2008 campaign to pass Proposition 8, the ballot initiative that successfully amended the state’s Constitution to ban same-sex marriage.

The vote happened in November 2008, about five months after the California State Supreme Court ruled that a ban on gay marriage violated the California Constitution.

The fine came in response to a complaint filed by Fred Karger, a California gay man who fought against Prop 8 and who earlier this year launched his own campaign for president.

According to the Los Angeles Times, a statement on the website on the Salt Lake City-based church’s website said it “unintentionally failed to file daily reports detailing approximately $37,000 in non-monetary contributions. The amount of contributions not reported represented the cost of staff time spent by church employees on activities to help the Yes on 8 committee during the final two weeks of the election.”

CBS News reports: “While the Fair Political Practices Commission could have assessed a $5,000 fine for each violation, it reportedly opted for a streamlined process that resulted in a deal with the church for the $5,539 fine.”

—  admin