M Crowd’s Ray Washburne supports a Republican (but NOT Rick Perry) for president

Ray Washburne, who runs M Crowd Restaurant Group — the Dallas-based company that owns Mi Cocina, Taco Diner and other eateries — was interviewed on NPR’s Morning Edition today, talking about his fundraising for GOP candidates. Seems Washburne was an early supporter of Tim Pawlenty for president, and was disappointed when he dropped out. That meant Washburne had to refocus his fundraising efforts on another candidate, and naturally he chose … Mitt Romney. Yep, not Rick Perry, for whom he has been an ardent monetary supporter as Texas governor. Seems that even a Texas Republican who would benefit having another Texan in the White House, and one he has endorsed in the past, thinks Perry isn’t qualified for the job. You can listen to the audio here.

Now to me, that’s the story — it’s what I intended to blog about as soon as the audio came available. But waiting in my inbox when I arrived at work was an email from a gay Dallasite, encouraging gays not to patronize any of the M Crowd restos.”Before you spend another dime at Mi Concina, Taco Diner or the Mercury you may want to reconsider where you[r] money is going and it’s going to candidates that support anti-gay causes.”

I can’t say I fully agree with my friend on this point. I don’t think giving money to any Republican candidate is, by nature, supporting anti-gay causes. Does Mitt Romney favor same-sex marriage? He most certainly does not — he’s said as much. You know who else has said he does not support same-sex marriage? Barack Obama, who has also made that bias perfectly clear. So, as far as same-sex marriage goes, Romney and Obama seem identical. That does not, of course, mean that Obama is more hostile to gay causes in general, or that Romney is a good candidate for gay voters; it just means that if donating money to a Republican means that your business is “anti-gay” …. well, I think there are a lot of restaurants in town gays might have to boycott.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

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

Perry would add another extremist to GOP race

Texas governor, who would be among field’s most conservative candidates, tells Iowa newspaper that ‘I’m getting more and more comfortable every day that this is what I’ve been called to do’

CHRIS TOMLINSON | Associated Press

AUSTIN — Should Rick Perry conclude that voter discontent has left him an opening to enter the presidential race, the longtime Texas governor would be among the GOP field’s most conservative candidates.

Primary voters would get a skilled politician with TV anchorman looks, a Southern preacher’s oratory and a cowboy’s swagger, matched by a disarming candor and sense of humor. The former cotton farmer from the village of Paint Creek in West Texas has never lost an election in nearly three decades as a politician.

What they wouldn’t get is a candidate whose politics are positioned to unite a Republican electorate that stretches from moderate pro-business fiscal conservatives to evangelical social conservatives, with the tea party falling somewhere along the spectrum.

“Texans, God love them, have that bigger-than-life persona about politics and that doesn’t necessarily play everywhere,” said Christopher Nicholas, a Republican political consultant who has worked extensively in the Northeast and Midwest. “I haven’t heard a lot of Republicans call Social Security a disease.”

Perry has. He branded Social Security and other New Deal programs “the second big step in the march of socialism,” according to a book published last year. The “first step” was a national income tax, which he has said stands alongside the direct election of U.S. senators as a major mistake among the amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

In the just-completed Texas legislative session, Perry’s “emergency items” included laws that require a photo ID in order to vote, a sonogram before a woman had an abortion and enforcement of federal immigration laws by local police.

He rejects the idea of global warming and the theory of evolution, arguing for natural climate variations and intelligent design of the universe.

In fact, he said last year when promoting his book, Fed Up: Our Fight to Save America From Washington, which was a state’s rights treatise that railed against the federal government, that he’s too conservative to run for national office.

“The best concrete evidence that I’m really not running for president is this book, because when you read this book, you’re going to see me talking about issues that for someone running for public office, it’s kind of been the third rail if you will,” Perry told The Associated Press shortly after winning re-election in 2010.

Perry doesn’t shy away from his deep conservatism. He embraces it with the same vigor with which he dismisses those who found his shooting of a coyote while the governor was jogging or spending tens of thousands of campaign dollars on a luxury rental home unbecoming a state chief executive.

Working with the fundamentalist American Family Association, Perry urged people to participate in a day of prayer and fasting on Aug. 6, following the example of the Bible’s book of Joel. Courting evangelical Christians always has been one of his core campaign strategies.

“When it comes to conservative social issues, it saddens me when sometimes my fellow Republicans duck and cover in the face of pressure from the left,” Perry told the Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans this year. “Our party cannot be all things to all people.”

In the few polls that have included Perry, he ranks high among Republican primary voters in Iowa and New Hampshire.

Gov. Terry Branstad, R-Iowa, told The Associated Press on Saturday he thinks it’s very likely that Perry will jump into the race and reshape the state’s caucuses.

“I get the definite impression he’s very likely to run,” Branstad said, basing his opinion on a conversation the governors had Friday. “I think he becomes a significant factor if he becomes a candidate,” Branstad said. “It could change the whole complexion of the Iowa caucus race.”

Perry told The Des Moines Register that he would likely decide in two or three weeks. “But I’m getting more and more comfortable every day that this is what I’ve been called to do. This is what America needs,” Perry said.

Should he run, Perry would seek the support of a wing of the party already courted by conservatives in important states such as Iowa. Those would-be rivals include U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, a tea party favorite; former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, a favorite of anti-abortion activists; and former businessman Herman Cain.

That could split the vote of the party’s conservative base, giving an opening to other Republicans seeking support across the GOP spectrum.

They include front-runner Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor who has reversed positions on several issues conservatives hold dear; former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, whose moderate positions on some issues make him a nonstarter for conservatives; and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who is struggling to break out of the pack.

Unlike some of those candidates, Perry has been consistent on culturally conservative issues.

States’ rights, however, is his signature issue.

In 2009, at one of the first rallies of a movement that would evolve into the tea party, he evoked the possibility that Texas might be better off seceding from the Union if what he called federal overreach continued.

He’s since said that lawmakers in state capitals should decide whether to legalize gay marriage or marijuana. In 2010, he toyed with the idea of pulling Texas out of Medicaid, the state-federal program that provides health care for low-income people. Perry gave up on the idea when the state’s comptroller said it would bankrupt the state.

Perry’s faith in the wisdom of local lawmakers and states’ rights has led him into strident fights with the Environmental Protection Agency.

In June, Perry signed a largely symbolic bill that allows Texas companies to continue producing incandescent light bulbs banned by the EPA, as long as they are sold within the state. Texas is the only state that has refused to put in place the EPA’s new rules regulating carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases.

Shawn Steel, a member of the Republican National Committee, met with Perry when he visited to California in late June. Steel said Perry sounds a lot like another big-state governor who was able to rely on charisma to win voters over to his conservative ideals. That was California’s Ronald Reagan.

“Reagan said a lot of controversial things, far more than Rick Perry,” Steel said. “It’s how he explained them and addressed them with that disarming smile of his and a very clever quip. Can Rick do that? That’s the question.”

—  John Wright

Republican presidential candidates split over right-wing ‘Marriage Vow’

Tim Pawlenty

But candidates’ refusal to sign pledge not an indication of a shift in views on gay marriage

LISA KEEN | Keen News Service
lisakeen@me.com

The campaigns of Republican presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney and four other GOP presidential candidates said this week they would not sign the bizarre pledge that at least two other GOP competitors did sign — a pledge that promises the candidate will vigorously oppose even “court-imposed recognition” of same-sex marriage.

The refusal of Romney and the other candidates does not signal a change in their opposition to same-sex marriage, but does appear to suggest the GOP field may be re-evaluating how far it is willing to go to appease the party’s far right wing.

The pledge, called “The Marriage Vow,” is being circulated by a Christian-oriented political advocacy group — The Family Leader — that organized the successful recall of three Iowa Supreme Court justices because they ruled in favor of marriage equality.

The rambling two-page pledge, which includes two additional pages of footnotes, calls on candidates for state and federal offices to “vow” that they will not receive any campaign support “from any of us without first affirming this Marriage Vow,” that they will “uphold and advance the natural Institution of Marriage,” and remain faithful to their own spouses.

Among the 14 specific positions called for in the Marriage Vow is an “Earnest, bona fide legal advocacy for the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) at the federal and state levels.” The 1996 federal law bans federal recognition of same-sex marriages and asserts that individual states can ignore marriage licenses issued by other states to same-sex couples.

The Marriage Vow also requires candidates to give a “steadfast embrace” to a proposed amendment to the federal Constitution to ban same-sex marriages nationally.

In an apparent reference to the repeal of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, the Marriage Vow has a candidate promise support for “safeguards” for military personnel from “intrusively intimate commingling among attracteds (restrooms, showers, barracks, tents, etc.).”

And one footnote contends there is no “empirical proof” that same-sex “inclinations are genetically determined, irresistible and akin to innate traits like race, gender and eye color . …”

The Marriage Vow does not limit itself to gay-related issues. It also calls for candidates to say “robust childbearing and reproduction is beneficial to U.S. demographic, economic, strategic and actuarial health and security,” to support the “downsizing” of government, and to support the protection of women from “sexual slavery, seduction into promiscuity, and all forms of pornography and prostitution, infanticide, abortion and other types of coercion or stolen innocence.”

A spokesperson for the Romney campaign told the Wall Street Journal, in an article published July 13, that Romney “felt this pledge contained references and provisions that were undignified and inappropriate for a presidential campaign.”

Jimmy LaSalvia, head of GOProud, a national conservative gay group, said Romney “should be praised for those comments, and for keeping his campaign focused on the issues that the American people care about the most: jobs and the economy.”

R. Clarke Cooper, head of Log Cabin Republicans, the national gay Republican group, said the pledge is “outside the scope of mainstream views.”

“Republican presidential candidates seriously seeking to win the general election are wise to avoid such an extreme position,” said Cooper. “Divisive and sometimes off-the-wall rhetoric on social issues will obscure a solid conservative fiscal message. Americans will not vote for somebody who has demonized their family, friends, neighbors and colleagues.”

Other Republican presidential candidates who have, thus far, balked at signing the pledge are former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman.

Johnson issued a statement calling the Marriage Vow “offensive to the principles of liberty and freedom on which this country was founded.” His website includes a video urging that it is un-American to discriminate against others “for the way they were born” or to use the federal government to “override the decisions of the states.”

Pawlenty posted a statement July 13 on his campaign’s website July 13, saying that, if elected president, “I would vigorously oppose any effort to redefine marriage as anything other than between one man and one woman.” But while he said he “deeply respects” the Family Leader’s commitment regarding marriage, he would “prefer to choose my own words” concerning marriage and would “respectfully decline” to sign the pledge.

Gingrich, in an appearance before the Family Leader July 11, reportedly said he would offer some edits to “sharpen” the pledge. The Des Moines Register said Gingrich said he wanted to review the document and was “working out some details.”

The only two Republicans to have signed the pledge — Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota and former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania — came under heavy scrutiny for having done so.

Bachmann and Santorum both had to address criticism for signing the Marriage Vow because the pledge originally included a sentence implying that African-American children were better off during slavery times than they are now, under the administration of the first African-American president.

According to the Huffington Post, the pledge originally included this sentence: “Slavery had a disastrous impact on African-American families, yet sadly a child born into slavery in 1860 was more likely to be raised by his mother and father in a two-parent household than was an African-American baby born after the election of the USA’s first African-American President.”

Huffington Post noted that the sentence has since been removed, and Bachmann told Fox News on July 12 that the sentence “was not on a document that I signed.”

“I just want to make it absolutely clear,” Bachmann told Fox News, “I abhor slavery. Slavery was a terrible part of our nation’s history. It’s good that we no longer have slavery. And under no circumstances would any child be better off growing up under slavery. That isn’t what I signed. That isn’t what I believe. What I signed was a statement that affirmed marriage as an important part of our nation. And I agree with that.”

The Human Rights Campaign issued a statement July 12 calling Bachmann’s signing of the pledge “a dangerous level of extremism.”

Bachmann, Santorum, and four other Republican presidential hopefuls have also signed the “Pro-Life Citizen’s Pledge,” promising that their nominees to the federal courts will be committed to “not legislating from the bench,” that their executive branch appointees — such as Cabinet positions — will be “pro-life,” and that they will “advance pro-life legislation to permanently end all taxpayer funding of abortion.”

The other four candidates include Gingrich, Pawlenty, and Reps. Ron Paul of Texas and Thaddeus McCotter of Michigan.

All but McCotter, who just recently announced his candidacy for the nomination, spoke before the Family Leader’s “Presidential Lecture Series,” as did candidate Herman Cain. Romney did not.

The head of the Family Leader organization, Bob Vander Plaats, was the organizer of the successful campaign last year to oust three Iowa Supreme Court justices who were part of the unanimous decision that the state constitution requires that same-sex couples be treated the same as heterosexual couples in the issuance of marriage licenses.

Meanwhile, the Human Rights Campaign posted its own petition for GOP candidates July 12, asking HRC supporters to sign a statement urging GOP presidential candidates to speak out publicly against therapy that alleges to change gays into straights.

© 2011 by Keen News Service. All rights reserved.

—  John Wright

Gov. Perry may be the answer to some people’s prayers, but will it earn him a gay glitter-bomb?

Tom Schlueter (via Twitter)

Right Wing Watch reports that one of the groups that’s endorsed Gov. Rick Perry’s Day of Prayer believes Perry is actually an answer to its prayers. In an article defending the event funded by the American Family Association, an anti-gay hate group, the AFA’s own OneNewsNow quotes Tom Schlueter of the Texas Apostolic Prayer Network:

“One of the things that we have been asking the Lord for many, many years has been a time when one of our political leaders will rise up and make this kind of a call to the state or to the nation,” Schlueter told OneNewsNow.

Right Wing Watch goes on to note that Schlueter, pastor of Prince of Peace Church in Arlington, once tied Hurricane Rita to the vote on Texas’ constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and civil unions. So you can add Schlueter to the long list of whackos who’ve endorsed Perry’s Day of Prayer. But here’s our question: Will Perry’s love for anti-gay bigots be enough to earn him a glitter-bomb?

In case you missed it, GOP presidential candidate Michelle Bachmann became the latest victim of a gay-rights glitter-bomb at a right-wing convention in Minneapolis on Saturday. Bachmann joins Newt Gingrich and Tim Pawlenty among members of the Republican presidential clown car who’ve fallen victim to the latest fad in activism. And although Perry hasn’t officially declared that he’s running for president, Karen Ocamb at LGBT POV raises the possibility that Perry could be next.

There’s been quite a bit of debate about the effectiveness of these glitter bombs — which are now apparently being coordinated by “glitteratti” from GetEQUAL — in advancing LGBT equality. We won’t wade into that debate here, but if someone does decide to glitter-bomb Perry, we just hope they do a better job than they did on Bachmann in the video below.

—  John Wright

Poll: Gov. Perry, President Obama tied in Texas

Gov. Rick Perry

If Texas Republican Gov. Rick Perry runs for president, he may have a hard time winning his own state.

A hypothetical matchup between Perry and President Barack Obama shows them tied in Texas, with each capturing 45 percent of the would-be vote, according to a survey conducted earlier this month by Public Policy Polling.

Perry faired the worst of several Republicans who were pitted against Obama in hypothetical matchups, according to the Texas Tribune:

Former Alaska Gov. and 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin would beat Obama in Texas by just a single point, 47 percent to 46 percent. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney leads Obama in Texas 49 to 42, while former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich leads the presdient 48 to 43. The Republican who fares best against Obama in Texas is former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who trounces him 55 to 39.

In other polling news, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney easily won the first presidential straw ballot of the 2012 cycle, capturing 35 percent of the vote among New Hampshire Republicans. Texas Congressman Ron Paul finished second with 11 percent, followed by former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty with 8 percent and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin with 7 percent. Gov. Perry was not included in the poll.


—  John Wright

Target CEO defends donations aiding anti-gay candidate for governor in Minnesota

MARTIGA LOHN  |  Associated Press Writer

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Target Corp.’s CEO on Tuesday, July 27 defended the discount retailer’s political donations to a Minnesota group helping the state’s Republican candidate for governor, telling employees at its Minneapolis headquarters that the company’s support of the gay community is “unwavering.”

Chief Executive Gregg Steinhafel said gay employees have been raising concerns about the money helping state Rep. Tom Emmer, who opposes gay marriage. Target gave $150,000 to MN Forward, a group staffed by former insiders from outgoing Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s administration. MN Forward is running TV ads supporting Emmer.

“We rarely endorse all advocated positions of the organizations or candidates we support, and we do not have a political or social agenda,” Steinhafel said in an e-mail.

He added: “Let me be very clear, Target’s support of the GLBT community is unwavering, and inclusiveness remains a core value of our company.”

Emmer is a fiery conservative who lauds Arizona’s strict approach to illegal immigration, once advocated chemical castration for sex offenders and wants to lower taxes. His profile contrasts with Target’s moderate image in Minnesota, where the company is known for donating to public school programs, food pantries and the annual Twin Cities Gay Pride Festival.

Target donated to MN Forward under new laws allowing corporations to spend company money on election campaigns. Corporate donations have been flowing since the U.S. Supreme Court threw out parts of a 63-year-old law that prohibited companies and unions from donating to campaigns for or against candidates.

The decision, which came earlier this year, changed rules in about half the states. But the change is so new that experts don’t have a good handle on the likely impact nationally.

“This is the leading edge,” said Ed Bender, who heads the National Institute on Money in State Politics in Montana.

In Minnesota, where Target has its headquarters and opened its first store 48 years ago, Democrats are grumbling about the large donation, and some are talking about striking back at the popular brand.

A few voices have even called for a boycott in the state, one of Target’s top three for sales. One Democratic-backed group is reaching out to Target employees through Facebook ads urging them to sign a petition opposing the donations.

“I think Target is making a huge mistake,” said Laura Hedlund, a former Democratic campaign worker who picketed outside a suburban Minneapolis Target store on Saturday, urging shoppers to spend their money elsewhere.

A Target spokeswoman said the company supports causes and candidates “based strictly on issues that affect our retail and business objectives.” Spokeswoman Lena Michaud said Target has a history of giving in state and local races where allowed, but wouldn’t provide detail on those donations.

She added that TargetCitizens, the company’s federal political action committee, has spread donations evenly between Democrats and Republicans so far this year. Political action committees contribute money collected from employees and shareholders, not from corporate funds.

Target’s donations to MN Forward — $100,000 in cash and $50,000 in brand consulting — slightly exceeds the total amount the company has given this year to all campaigns and causes at the federal level. By contrast, individuals can give a maximum of only $2,000 to candidates under Minnesota law.

Three Democrats, House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher, former U.S. Sen. Mark Dayton and former state Rep. Matt Entenza, are running in the Aug. 10 primary. Pawlenty chose not to seek a third term and is instead exploring a 2012 presidential bid.

Although corporate donations are now legal, they could be sensitive for companies that serve customers of different political orientation. “You’re never going to please everyone,” said Elliot Schreiber, a professor at Drexel University in Philadelphia and consultant on corporate image management. “Taking sides is only going to exacerbate the situation.”

MN Forward is technically nonpartisan, but executive director Brian McClung, Pawlenty’s former spokesman, said Emmer is the only gubernatorial candidate the group supports.

“We believe that everybody has the right to express their opinions and we’re going to run a fair and factual campaign,” McClung said. “Our first ad is a positive ad talking about a candidate’s vision for creating jobs.”

As of Tuesday, Target was the largest single donor to the group, which had raised more than $1 million from industry trade groups and companies, including Pentair Inc., Hubbard Broadcasting Inc., Davisco Foods International Inc. and Polaris Industries Inc. Electronic retailer Best Buy Co. gave $100,000 to the group according to an MN Forward report made public Tuesday.

The Supreme Court ruling left in place state prohibitions against companies giving directly to the candidates. The money can go to independent groups supporting the candidates. But individuals can donate directly to the candidates’ campaigns.

Money from Target’s top executives has gone mainly to Republicans. Former Chief Executive Officer Robert Ulrich, who retired last year, gave $617,000 during his time as Target’s leader, most of it to the state GOP. Current Chief Executive Gregg Steinhafel has donated about $25,000, almost exclusively to Republican candidates and causes.

—  John Wright