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

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

No hate crime in Log Cabin assault

The assault of a Log Cabin Republicans member at the Hilton Anatole in Dallas last weekend — during which the suspect called the victim a “faggot” – won’t be classified as a hate crime for FBI reporting purposes, according to Laura Martin, the Dallas Police Department’s LGBT liaison officer.

Instant Tea reported Tuesday that even though the Log Cabin member opted not to press charges against the suspect, the assault could still be classified as a bias-motivated incident to the FBI, which is required to track hate crimes nationwide. However, Martin said DPD’s intelligence unit has chosen not to classify the incident as a hate crime because it doesn’t appear the assault was motivated by anti-gay bias.

Martin said the suspect’s use of the word “faggot” took place in the heat of an argument between two groups that had established contact earlier in the evening.

“There’s no obvious proof that it’s a hate crime, that the entire contact was based on the suspect’s hatred of gay people,” Martin said. “There’s just no evidence of it, and in fact the complainant [victim] agrees with that. … The complainant doesn’t believe that he was targeted simply because he’s gay.”

—  John Wright

Suspect in Log Cabin assault is servicemember; incident may still be classified as hate crime

Officer Laura Martin

The suspect accused of assaulting a member of Log Cabin Republicans and calling him a “faggot” on Saturday at the Hilton Anatole is a member of the military, according to Laura Martin, the Dallas Police Department’s LGBT liaison officer.

Martin said a police report from the incident indicates that the suspect, a 27-year-old male, is a supervisor or sergeant in the military who was responding to perceived sexual harassment of a subordinate. Other sources suggested that the suspect is a member of the Marines. The suspect’s name is being withheld because Dallas Voice doesn’t typically identify people charged with misdemeanors.

DPD declined to release a copy of the police report from the incident, which occurred at about 1 a.m. Saturday in the lobby bar of the Hilton Anatole, where Log Cabin was holding its National Convention.

Martin said even though the victim has chosen not to press charges — meaning the case will not be prosecuted — DPD may classify the incident as an anti-gay hate crime for the purposes of reporting it to the FBI. She said the police report indicates that someone at the victim’s table — but not the victim — “catcalled” and made sexual gestures toward someone at the suspect’s table, adding that both the suspect and the victim were intoxicated at the time of the incident.

“Someone who was at the complainant’s [victim’s] table saw someone who he thought was attractive at another table. When he pointed him out and when the guy got up to to go to the restroom, at least one person catcalled him and made sexual gestures in an obvious manner,” Martin said. “So he went back to his table and told his supervisor, who is also in the military. The supervisor went over then to the table where the guys were to say, ‘Please stop.’ When he went over there to the table the complainant [victim] stood up as he was addressing the group, and the arrested person viewed that as aggressive toward him, so he pushed him down, and that’s how he became injured. I don’t know if the complainant was standing up because he needed to go to the restroom, or if he was standing up to argue, or if he was standing up to stretch his legs, but the guy who was arrested said he viewed it as aggressive.”

—  John Wright

Log Cabin Republicans share the Hilton Anatole with the right-wing Heritage Foundation

A recorded message from Dallas GOP Congressman Pete Sessions is played during the Log Cabin Republicans National Convention earlier today. More pics after the jump.

It was an interesting scene over at the Hilton Anatole today. Downstairs in the massive Atrium, where I found myself lost at least once, a conservative D.C.-based think tank called the Heritage Foundation was hosting a convention featuring tables sponsored by groups like the “Alliance for School Choice” and “Online for Life.”

Meanwhile, upstairs on the mezzanine in smaller conference rooms, the gay GOP group Log Cabin Republicans was quietly holding its National Convention. And when Dallas GOP Congressman Pete Sessions creepily appeared on the projector to deliver a recorded welcome message during Log Cabin’s lunch program, I couldn’t help but wonder if I might be in the wrong room.

After all, though, these two groups would probably agree on a lot of issues — limited government, strong national defense, etc. They just happen to disagree on one rather big one — the gays — and ultimately I guess that’s what Log Cabin is all about.

“There are a lot of Republican legislators who believe like we do,” GOP Maryland Sen. Allan H. Kittleman, who’s straight, told Log Cabin during the lunch program. “We just have to convince them it’s OK. They’re scared.”

—  John Wright

What’s Brewing: Dan Ramos hospitalized; Log Cabin convention under way at the Anatole

Dan Ramos

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. Bexar County Democratic Party Chairman Dan Ramos has been hospitalized just days before his likely removal from office for, among other things, comparing gay Democrats to “termites” and the “fuckin’ Nazi Party.” But no, it’s not for a brain tumor.

2. Don’t be surprised if you run into some well-known gay Republicans around town (or on Grindr) this weekend. The Log Cabin Republicans are holding their National Convention at the Hilton Anatole.

3. Have you emailed your state representative yet?

—  John Wright

The lap of luxury

RELAX, GO TO IT | Hot stone massages are among the treatments for couples and singles at V Spa.

With Spa Week, luxury facilities like V Spa seek to ‘queer eye’ us all

ARNOLD WAYNE JONES  | Life+Style Editor

Damn those Queer Eye guys. When they emerged in 2003, they gave away some of our best secrets, teaching straight men to get in touch with their metrosexual side and embrace skin care and days spas.

Only not everyone got the message — and sometimes, not even gay men. A massage is one thing, but a facial? A mani-pedi? But even those treatments are getting their play in the male psyche.

Sarah Long, the spa manager at the Hilton Anatole’s V Spa (which opened about three years ago), says nowadays it is easier to get men in to enjoy the range of services offered.

“A lot of it is they are either scared and don’t know what to expect with a lot of guys there’s a whole stigma of going to the spa — it’s not manly,” says Long. “But absolutely men do this, once they get past that wariness at the beginning. When they are in the first time, you don’t need to give further incentives.”

In order to incentivize that first visit, however, spas like V populate their menus with services such as the “gentleman’s facial” (a lush and soothing skin treatment) to let men know some treatments are intended just for them. And with Spa Week upon us, this might be just the time to check it out.

Spa Week has been undertaken for a while, says Long, usually with twice-a-year windows (in Dallas, April and October) when spas offer a selection of their high-end services at a discount price to encourage new clients.

“We drop the price point for that week on two to three services for $50. It’s really a good opportunity to try out something new without spending a lot of money,” Long says.

This season’s offerings at V Spa include the “restorative facial,” the “revitalizing back treatment” and the “rose-scented pedicure,” all for just $50. “We do try to switch up the services we offer so those who show up every Spa Week can try something different,” Long says.

Whatever gets you in there, V Spa does provide a spectacular service. Not all spa experiences are comparable (though often their prices are). The common areas can make a difference, as well as the treatment room facilities and perks. V Spa, for instance, has a waiting area with an Asian influence (bamboo, dark woods — just like the rest of the hotel) and complimentary nuts and champagne. A technician even gives you a foot bath while wrapping your neck in a warm buckwheat pillow before you slide between high thread-count sheets on a damask-covered massage table. Such luxuries provide added value.

“Especially right now, a lot of us are cutting back, but there are things we had to keep,” Long says. It all serves the main point of a day at the spa: Escape.

“I think relaxation is a huge thing,” says Long. “You should be able to walk in and leave your life for a little bit — have that time for yourself, a moment of piece … like a mini-vacation. You need to know it is gonna be relaxing.”

That means no matter what service you buy, you get all the extras, including access to the health club and pool, the sauna and showers, the robes and cucumber water all for one price. It really can be a Calgon moment that lasts all day.

V Spa at the Hilton Anatole, 2201 Stemmons Freeway. 214-761-7800. Spa Week runs April 11–17.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 8, 2011.

—  John Wright

Tasting notes: Valentine edition

Need ideas for how to spend a romantic dinner with your sweetie? We got ’em

ARNOLD WAYNE JONES | Life+Style Editor

Lots of restaurants are getting in the mood for romance, so you and your sweetie can choose from among these options — and many more:

La Duni — The Oak Lawn and McKinney avenue locations offer a four-course dinner for $50/person that includes a champagne toast. Don’t forget to pre-order a lovey-dovey cupcake. LaDuni.com.

The Mansion on Turtle Creek — A three-course meal, including dessert, runs you $125 on Feb. 14. Make it more romantic by booking a room for the weekend rate. 214-443-4747.

Nana — The Hilton Anatole is doing the same as The Mansion, offering a $99 four-course meal plus the option to book a guest room for as low as $79. 214-761-7470.

The Landmark — The restaurant inside the Warwick Melrose is really keeping it romantic, with a set price per couple. For $150, you can each put together the ideal four-course meal, served Feb. 12 and 14. Call 214-224-3152.

The Grape — The romantic bistro features a la carte choices Friday through Sunday, then a three-course tasting menu for $65/person. 214-828-1981.

Bijoux — Full disclosure: I spent Valentine’s Day here last year, and for good reason: The food is superb, and it really stands up as event dining. For $85/person, chef Scott Gottlich will whip up an exquisite four-course meal that includes lobster bisque, duo of veal and a filet, among other delectables. 214-350-6100.

The Second Floor — Over at Gottlich’s other restaurant, adorable chef J Chastain has something unusual in mind for a holiday dinner: You put it together. Rather than the traditional prix fixe menu, from Feb. 12–14 you can select from a range of popular and romantic items, from $9 to $34, for the ideal custom meal. Call 927-450-2978.

Salum — Chef Abraham Salum has a jazzy menu planned for Feb 14, that includes jazz music from singer Nadia Washington and a complimentary glass of champagne. The three-course meal costs $65. SalumRestaurant.com.

Sprinkles — Those demons at Sprinkles have taunted me again with new flavors, available for Valentine’s. You can choose from a red hot velvet (with spicy cinnamon aroma) or raspberry chocolate chip. Both are available through Feb. 14 in the Preston Center location.

On the heels of Valentine’s is a food and wine showcase to warm the blood. Bonne Sante features chefs including Scott Gottlich, Abraham Salum, Tony Bombaci (Nana), Dean Fearing (Fearing’s), Bruno Davilion (The Mansion) and Blaine Staniford (Grace), as well as several wineries. Individual tickets run $200 and benefit the National Kidney Foundation. It takes place at the Westin Galleria on Feb. 16 from 6 to 9 p.m. 214-3512-2393.

Central 214 is instituting a “pick your plate” option, starting Feb. 15. For a flat price of $30, customers can choose one salad or soup, one entrée and one dessert from Blythe Beck’s menu. 214-443-9339.

We blogged recently about John Tesar’s new restaurant in the Cedars, Cedars Social, which officially opened this week. Well, he’s got more on his plate, including The Commissary, which will open in April in the space last occupied by Dali in One Arts Plaza. It will feature burgers, wine on tap and late night meals.

Fin Sushi, from the people responsible for Sushi Axiom on Henderson, has officially opened in the ilume. BEE, Monica Greene’s new enchiladaria, is open in Oak Cliff.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Feb. 4, 2011.

—  John Wright

Log Cabin to hold 2011 convention in Dallas

Rudy Oeftering, from left, Rob Schlein and R. Clarke Cooper show off Schlein’s Texas State Flag this morning outside DV offices.

We were lucky enough to receive a visit this morning from R. Clarke Cooper, executive director of Log Cabin Republicans National, who was accompanied to Dallas Voice offices by local gay GOP’ers Rob Schlein and Rudy Oeftering.

Cooper was in town for the Grand Ol’ Party, the Dallas chapter’s annual fundraising dinner, over the weekend. (You can watch part of conservative author S.E. Cupp’s keynote speech below.) Also during the dinner, Schlein was presented with a Texas State Flag that was flown over the Capitol in Austin in his honor. Oeftering said he presented the flag to Schlein on behalf of State Rep. Dan Branch, R-Highland Park.

Anyhow, among other topics that were discussed in this morning’s visit, Cooper announced that Log Cabin plans to hold its national convention in Dallas next year. He said the convention will be at the Hilton Anatole in April and should draw at least several hundred poeple from across the country.

Log Cabin picked Dallas for the convention for several reasons, Cooper said. For one, Texas is “ripe for growth” for Log Cabin, and the state’s Republican delegation to Congress has room for improvement on LGBT issues. Also, two members of that delegation, Congressman Pete Sessions and Sen. John Cornyn, happen to occupy key leadership positions, heading up the Republican campaign committees for their respective chambers. Finally, several of Log Cabin’s top individual donors, as wells as its first corporate sponsor American Airlines, are based in Texas.

“The stars kind of aligned for us to be here in 2011,” Cooper said.

—  John Wright

2 gay North Texans elected to IGLTA board

The International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association, a group that promotes the gay market as one destinations and industries in the travel biz should cultivate, announced its new board last month. For the first time since 1995, a lesbian was elected chair, PR rep for Tourisme Montreal and founder of Girlports Tanya Churchmuch. Also elected to the board are two Dallas-area industry pros: George Carrancho with American Airlines was named treasurer, and Cordey Lash with the Hilton Anatole was named secretary.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones