GOP leader opposes gay Republican candidates

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Rep. Randy Forbes

A powerful Republican House leader is pushing his party against supporting two promising gay Congressional candidates.

Virginia Rep. Randy Forbes who’s pursuing a powerful committee chairmanship, is pushing the House GOP campaign arm to deny support for Mass. Republican Richard Tisei, who narrowly lost to Democratic Rep. John Tierney in 2012, and to Carl DeMaio, a former San Diego city councilman, who’s trying to knock off Democratic Rep. Scott Peters.

His efforts on Capitol Hill against the two gay Republicans were described to POLITICO by more than a half-dozen sources with direct knowledge of the talks.

Many senior House Republicans haven’t shied away from giving money to Tisei or DeMaio. The NRCC supported Tisei in 2012, with many top Republicans contributing to his campaign. The political arm of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) gave DeMaio $10,000 in June. And Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) chipped in $5,000 the same month.

In an emailed statement to POLITICO in response to the story, NRCC Chairman Greg Walden of Oregon said, “Our decisions on the Republican nominees we support will not be based on race, gender or sexual orientation but will be based on the strength of their candidacy and their ability to defeat Democrats.”

The politics of marriage equality has shifted within the GOP. Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, who has a gay son, has come out in favor of same-sex marriage. Meanwhile, other Republicans have tried distancing themselves from the party’s anti-gay base.

Focus has increased on Forbes’ homophobia as he lobbies for the position of Armed Services Committee chairman. The current chairman Buck McKeon, R-Calif., is said to be considering whether to forgo another bid for election.

In an interview with POLITICO, McKeon’s chief of staff said his boss expects Texas Rep. Mac Thornberry to be the next chairman. Republican leadership sources, granted anonymity to discuss future party strategy, told POLITICO they consider Thornberry a shoo-in for the top spot on the panel, which oversees the nation’s military.