Tag Archives: november election

Illinois GOP elects new chair to succeed pro-gay Brady

After months of public infighting and constant bickering over issues that also continue to divide the national party, Illinois Republicans selected a new leader on June 1 who they hope is the best option to bring factions of the party together after its poor showing in last November’s elections.

The party’s central committee chose committeeman and lobbyist Jack Dorgan of Rosemont as the party’s chair for the next year. He replaces outgoing chairman Pat Brady, who resigned last month after conservatives complained about his public support for gay marriage and other leadership issues.

Over the last few weeks, Dorgan, 53, emerged as a consensus choice with the potential to bridge gaps between the party’s conservative and moderate wings. Party leaders are seeking ways to appeal more to youths, women and minorities after a drubbing in state elections that allowed Democrats to nearly sweep contested congressional seats and achieve supermajorities in both chambers of the Illinois General Assembly.

“After the last six months, the party really needs to refocus on the basics,” House Republican Leader Tom Cross said. Dorgan told the committee he has 30 years of political experience, including as a legislative aide for state Rep. Roger McAuliffe, senior staff for Gov. Jim Thompson’s office and on Gov. Jim Edgar’s cabinet.

“He has the strengths of knowing the fundamentals of party basics and of party structure,” Cross said.

Along with Cross, Dorgan had the backing of U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, state Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka and members of the Illinois congressional delegation.

“I know Jack will be a leader who will focus on keeping our party energized heading into the 2014 election and trust he will work to ensure the Illinois GOP is inclusive so that we continue to live up to our full potential as a party,” Kirk said in a statement.

The other six candidates included former Congressman Joe Walsh, former lieutenant governor candidate Don Tracy, former Cook County state’s attorney candidate Lori Yokoyama and businessman Jim Nalepa. State Sen. Matt Murphy of Palatine removed his name from consideration late last month.

Brady resigned from his post May 8, citing his wife’s battle with cancer and his desire to focus on family after six years in Republican politics.

He came under fire from conservatives earlier this year after calling the party “on the wrong side of history” for opposing gay marriage. Critics said they had several issues with Brady’s leadership.

Brady faced several ouster attempts by state central committeemen led by state Sen. Jim Oberweis of Sugar Grove and Jerry Clarke, former chief of staff for U.S. Rep. Randy Hultgren. Illinois Republicans’ fight over gay marriage and the leadership of the unpaid, often thankless post has served as a microcosm of differences and problems within the national party. Walsh, who lost a bid for re-election last November to Democrat Tammy Duckworth, told committeemen Saturday that even the private, closed-door process of selecting a chairman was emblematic of problems.

“We should be speaking to a ballroom of 1,000 Republicans right now,” Walsh said. “My god, folks, the party is breaking. If we don’t pick someone who will excite and energize the base, the party will wither away.”

Dorgan’s lobbying firm has political connections on both sides of the aisle. Dorgan has a practice with James McPike, a former House Majority Leader under powerful Democratic Speaker Michael Madigan. Their firm, Dorgan – McPike & Associates, has a politically active client list. The firm has donated to former governors George Ryan and Rod Blagojevich, Madigan and the House Republican Organization, among others.

It is not uncommon for lobbyists to take top party posts. Former Mississippi governor Haley Barbour worked as a Washington lobbyist before being named Republican National Committee Chair in 1993.

Dorgan would not specify on June 1 if he backs legalizing civil marriage for same-sex couples, only that he wants the Republican party to be more of a “big tent” organization. “Legislators should legislate,” he said of the issue, which failed to come to a vote in the state Capitol, before session adjourned on May 31. He said he has a 90-day plan of action to put the party position for the 2014 election.

“Whether you like government or you don’t, it’s there and it’s a necessity,” Dorgan said of taking on the chairmanship.

Committeemen’s votes were weighted by primary turnout in the districts they represent, giving the most politically active places the most power. Dorgan was elected with 59 percent of the total vote on the first ballot, party officials said.

“I had different thoughts, but Jack won fair and square,” Oberweis, who backed Nalepa, said. Moving forward, he pledged to do everything he could to help Dorgan in his new role.

With another election for chairman next April looming, Dorgan, by some, is clearly being viewed in a temporary capacity.

“The next chair is for the time being a perhaps temporary successor until the new one is officially elected,” State Sen. Kirk Dillard, a Hinsdale Republican and likely 2014 Republican primary bidder, said.

But Dorgan’s performance could earn him a permanent four-year spot. “Time will tell,” Cross said.

Anti-gay marriage campaign keeps donors a secret

A national anti-gay-marriage group that has fought to keep its donor list confidential omitted contributors’ names from its campaign disclosure filing in a referendum on gay marriage, earning criticism from gay-marriage supporters who say it refuses to abide by the rules.

The National Organization for Marriage’s quarterly filing with the state ethics commission indicated its political action committee raised about $250,000, which went to a group that will soon launch television ads. NOM also declined to release donors’ names in a 2009 gay-marriage referendum, when it donated $1.9 million.

Maine’s law requiring disclosure of contributors has been upheld in the courts. For now, though, the 2009 case has yet to be resolved with the ethics commission.

Matt McTighe, campaign manager for Mainers United for Marriage, which supports the new referendum asking voters to legalize same-sex marriage, said NOM should be required to release the donor list.

“Maine voters deserve to know who is trying to influence this election,” he said. “Maine law is clear, and NOM refuses to follow the same rules that every other campaign in the state must abide by.”

Voters repealed Maine’s gay-marriage law in 2009, but it’s on the ballot again in the Nov. 6 election.

Same-sex marriage is legal in New York, Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and Washington, D.C.

Besides Maine, Maryland and Washington also will vote this fall on proposals to authorize gay marriage. Minnesota voters will be asked if they want to prohibit gay marriage in their state constitution.

This past marked a deadline for campaign finance reports in Maine.

Gay-marriage supporters have raised far more money so far.

Mainers United for Marriage, which is leading the drive to legalize same-sex marriage, said $2.2 million was raised during the latest financial reporting period, pushing the total to about $3.4 million.

Protect Marriage Maine PAC, which is fighting the referendum, said it raised $370,000, which includes the NOM money, in the latest reporting period, for a total of $415,000, said Carroll Conley Jr., executive director of the Christian Civic League of Maine and a member of the PAC.

Maine’s campaign disclosure law requires groups that raise or spend more than $5,000 to influence elections to register and disclose donors. NOM has argued that releasing the donor list would stymie free speech and subject donors to harassment, but the lower court refused to throw out the law.

The U.S. Supreme Court earlier this month declined to hear NOM’s appeal, leaving the state law intact. But the ethics commission is still investigating, and NOM is fighting subpoenas in state court.

NOM Chairman John Eastman said that the situation is far from resolved. He contends NOM doesn’t have to release the names of people who gave to its general treasury, and he previously suggested there was little if any money that was earmarked for the 2009 campaign in Maine.

“NOM has always been willing to fully disclose any donations it receives that are earmarked for a particular campaign,” he said. “The issue in the 2009 case concerns how the state characterizes donations in this regard. We will be working with the state to discuss any remaining issues.”

What’s missing from pro-gay marriage ads? Gays

In one American TV ad, a husband and wife talk fondly of a lesbian couple who moved into their neighborhood. In another, a married couple speaks of wanting fair treatment for their lesbian daughter. A third features a pastor talking supportively about gay unions.

Each of these ads ran recently in U.S. states with gay marriage issues on the November ballot. What’s missing? Gay people speaking for themselves.

Four states are voting on gay marriage this fall, and gay rights groups are pouring tens of millions of dollars into key TV markets in hopes of breaking a 32-state losing streak on the issue. But even as gay people and same-sex relationships gain acceptance through pop culture staples such as “Modern Family” and “Glee,” the idea is still seen as dicey by media strategists involved in the ballot campaigns, resulting in ads that usually involve only straight people talking about the issue.

The decision to keep gays in the background has been widely noticed in the gay community and debated on gay-oriented blogs, with some activists complaining that the move contradicts the central message of the gay rights movement for a number of years.

“If we don’t show ourselves, people aren’t going to get comfortable with who we are,” said Wayne Besen, director of Vermont-based gay rights group Truth Wins Out, one of many that presses gays to live openly with pride in who they are.

But others counsel deference for the complexities of public messaging, pointing out that the ads are designed to speak to the fears and values of the heterosexual majority, whose vote will decide the issue.

“The moderate tough guys we need to flip to win a couple of these races are still the ones who say that gays are gross,” said Andy Szekeres, a Denver-based fundraising consultant who has worked on several state campaigns and had access to focus group data.

“Pushing people to an uncomfortable place, it’s something you can’t do in a TV ad,” said Szekeres, who is gay.

Marriage measures are on the ballot this fall in Maine, Maryland, Minnesota and Washington.

Beyond those, according to the Human Rights Campaign, 37 states prohibit gay marriage while six and the District of Columbia permit it. Gay activists and their allies are hoping that any wins in November would throw new momentum their way at a time when polls nationwide have shown growing acceptance for gay marriage.

Six of the seven ads broadcast in the contested states this year have featured only straight people talking about the issue. One ad, which played in Maine, included a firefighter who talked of being accepted by his colleagues. The ads, along with most that ran in the 2008 campaign in California and in other past statewide races, rely on heterosexual family members and friends of gays talking about how the inability to marry has deprived their loved ones of rights and opportunities they should have.

Gay marriage opponents, who also have well-funded campaigns in the four states, plan to begin airing ads soon. In recent interviews, an organizer said the key message is aimed at parents, suggesting legal recognition could result in their kids being told in school and in society that it’s OK to be gay.

Gay activists who have worked on the marketing campaigns say that in this battle for public opinion, it’s better for gays to stay in the background.

“The simple truth is that we are trying to win over the people that are not yet with us,” said Matt McTighe, campaign manager of Mainers United for Marriage, which is pushing the ballot measure to legalize gay marriage in that state. “I’m a gay man, and the general rule of thumb for me is that an ad that meets my emotional needs is not necessarily the thing that’s going to change a typical voter’s mind about gay or lesbian people.”

A May 2011 poll by the Pew Research Center found growing acceptance of gay people on a number of fronts, but still plenty of doubts. Fifty-eight percent of poll respondents said gays should be accepted in society compared to 33 percent who said they shouldn’t. More people thought gays raising children was bad for society rather than good, though the largest number of respondents were neutral on the question. The same poll found 45 percent support for gay marriage rights, up from 35 percent just two years earlier.

The first ad broadcast by Minnesotans United for All Families, which is trying to defeat a proposed constitutional ban on gay marriage, is aimed at parents. It features Kim and John Canny – two straight Catholics, Republicans and parents of three daughters from a Minneapolis suburb who discuss coming around to support gay marriage after a lesbian couple with an adopted son moved into their neighborhood.

The lesbian couple is briefly glimpsed in the ad, but not heard from.

Alexander Zachary, a gay man from Minneapolis, complained that the ads he’s seen reflect an “antiquated mindset.”

“This isn’t San Francisco in 1973, where all the gay people live in one neighborhood and all the straight people live everywhere else,” he said. “We’re not this hidden culture anymore, so why act like it?”

Richard Carlbom, manager of the Minnesota campaign, declined to say if future Minnesota United ads would feature gay people. Upcoming ads will “articulate why gay people want to get married,” he said.

Many straight people “are on a journey on this issue, and the most effective way to encourage them is to show them other people who have taken the same journey,” and come to accept gay marriage, Carlbom said.

Bil Browning, a Washington, D.C., gay activist and writer, recently called a straights-only ad that ran in Washington state “a heterosexual snoozefest” on his blog. He pointed out that gay activists seem to be using the strategy even though they’ve yet to win a campaign. In the 32 states where the issue has been on a statewide ballot, gay marriage advocates have lost every time.

“Maybe it’s time to reevaluate these strategies and include our families, actual LGBT people,” Browning said. “We’re never going to win if we can’t show our faces. It looks like we have something to hide, and we don’t.”

Lincoln gay rights vote isn’t on November ballot

Lincoln, Neb., voters won’t be asked whether to enact a local gay rights ordinance in the November election.

City officials have not scheduled a vote on the so-called “fairness amendment” that bans discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation.

City Councilman Carl Eskridge, who sponsored the ordinance, said he has no particular date in mind to take the proposal to voters. He said it will not appear on the ballot for the November election, and it may not be on the citywide ballot in May 2013.

“November just didn’t feel like a good time to offer it,” Eskridge told the Lincoln Journal Star.

The issue turned political after the city council passed an ordinance in May, 5-2, that expands the city’s protection against discrimination to gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people. Opponents of the ordinance mounted a successful petition drive that requires the council to either let the ordinance die, or submit it for voter approval.

In late May, when it was clear the petition drive would be successful, Mayor Chris Beutler recommended putting the question to a vote. Since then, the Beutler administration and Eskridge have not talked about the issue publicly, but they responded to reporter requests for information this past week, after it became clear the city would likely miss the deadline to get it on the fall ballot.

The issue has drawn statewide attention to Nebraska’s second-largest city. On Aug. 17, Republican Gov. Dave Heineman accused city officials of trying to delay the vote because they are afraid voters would reject the ordinance. Heineman has previously said voters should have the right to decide whether to adopt the proposal.

“It sounds like, ‘We’re going to delay the vote, because we don’t think we can win in November,’ “ Heineman said during a news conference. “You don’t delay the presidential election because the president may or may not win re-election. You ought to put it on the ballot and let the people speak. I don’t know what they’re afraid of.”

Heineman said scheduling decisions for votes should be left to cities, but added: “Generally speaking, we ought to put these on the ballot to coincide with the May or November election. And here’s the other thing: More people are going to turn out to vote in a presidential year. This is the year you ought to do it.”

Eskridge said he was having doubts about putting the city charter amendment on the November ballot before a Lincoln woman told police she was hurt during a hate crime last month.

That case – and the lack of information about it – added even more emotion to the issue, Eskridge said in a telephone interview.

“Now is just not a good time,” he said.

Eskridge said he will consider putting the question on the May ballot, but that it likely would become politically intertwined with races for three council seats. The potential politics of having the issue on that ballot would be a factor in any decision, he said.

“I just don’t know when it will happen,” he said. “It could well be a year or two.”

Language for a ballot issue would have to be on the Monday (Aug. 20) council agenda to meet the Lancaster County election commissioner’s Sept. 4 deadline. The agenda released last week showed nothing relating to providing civil rights protection in Lincoln based on gender identity and sexual orientation.

A charter amendment proposal could be placed on the ballot at a regularly scheduled election, or the council could call for a special election.

Judge won’t void Democratic primary won by anti-gay candidate

A federal judge this week refused to void the Tennessee Democratic primary for U.S. Senate won by an anti-gay candidate the party has disavowed.

District Judge Kevin Sharp cited among the reasons for his refusal that the plaintiff, Larry Crim, was lacking certain filings and that there were errors in others. For instance, the Tennessee Division of Elections was named as a defendant instead of an individual, which should have been the election coordinator.

Sharp told Crim’s attorney, Michael Rowan, that once he got the proper items – such as a memorandum, affidavit and declarations – that he was welcome to file again.

“Before you can do anything, you have to follow the rules,” Sharp said.

Rowan, who acknowledged acting hastily in seeking an emergency ruling, told reporters after the hearing that he would talk to his client about how to proceed.

Crim sued the state Division of Elections and the Tennessee Democratic Party in trying to keep the winner of the Aug. 2 primary, Mark Clayton, off the November ballot.

Clayton got nearly 50,000 votes, or twice the number of his nearest competitor, in a field of seven little-known candidates to challenge incumbent Republican Sen. Bob Corker in November. Crim came in fourth with just more than 17,000 votes.

The day after the election, the state Democratic Party said it wanted nothing to do with Clayton. A statement disavowing his campaign said he is a member of an anti-gay hate group and not a real Democrat because he previously voted in only one party primary.

State Election Coordinator Mark Goins said last week that there isn’t enough time to hold another primary.

Tennessee Assistant Attorney General Janet Kleinfelter echoed that when she told the judge having another election would be “physically impossible” because of the requirements that have to be met before the November general election.

“It’s a very detailed process,” said Kleinfelter, who also noted that 65 counties have already certified election results.

Crim’s lawsuit also sought to overturn the Senate primary and asked the judge to order a new one to take place by Sept. 15.

The petition contended that the party committed fraud because it could have kept Clayton off the ballot by meeting an April deadline to tell the state he wasn’t a bona fide Democrat under the party’s by-laws.

The lawsuit also claimed the state’s alphabetical arrangement of candidates’ names on the ballot creates an unfair advantage for some candidates. The petition noted Clayton’s 2008 Senate race, in which he lost to former state Democratic Party chairman Bob Tuke.

Clayton, who was an intervener at the hearing, said afterward that he felt somewhat vindicated.

“No reasonable person believes at this point … that we could have possibly won by having our name at the top of the ballot or something ridiculous like that,” he said.

Goins said after the hearing that he plans to proceed as normal.

“Right now the presumptive nominee … will be Mark Clayton,” he said.

Minnesota sued for changing title on marriage measure

Opponents of same-sex marriage are suing the Minnesota Secretary of State for changing the title on their ballot question proposing a constitutional amendment.

The amendment would define marriage in the state constitution as the union of a man and a woman, cementing the state’s already existing law banning gays and lesbians from marrying.

Voters in the November general election will decide the question, which is going on the ballot with different wording than proposed by the right-wing Minnesota for Marriage and Republican lawmakers.

Minnesota for Marriage and lawyers for Republican lawmakers have now filed a legal brief with the state supreme court arguing that it was wrong for Democratic Secretary of State Mark Ritchie to substitute a title for the question. They say the new title – “Limiting the Status of Marriage to Opposite Sex Couples” – is misleading and could sway votes.

“Even small changes in the wording of ballot measures and titles can have a dramatic effect on the election results,” read the brief, which objects to the use of “limiting.”

Minnesota for Marriage wants the title to read “Recognition of Marriage Solely Between One Man and One Woman.”

Ritchie also re-titled the proposed amendment requiring voter photo ID, which also has triggered a legal dispute.

State Sen. Mike Parry, R, has called a committee hearing today – July 20 – to look into the changing of the titles.

“In light of recent developments, the committee expects Secretary of State Mark Ritchie and State Attorney General Lori Swanson to explain their involvement surrounding the constitutional amendment questions on the November ballot,” he said in a press release.

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LA voters to decide on compulsory condoms in porn

Los Angeles County voters will decide in a referendum in November whether to require condoms on the set of all local porn productions.

The AIDS Healthcare Foundation and its partners collected more than 360,000 signatures to place the question on the Nov. 6 ballot.

Michael Weinstein, executive director of the foundation, said, “We are extremely pleased to learn that our county of Los Angeles ballot measure to require adult film producers to obtain public health permits has successfully qualified for the November ballot, particularly as that is also the presidential election and voter turnout is expected to be very high.”

The group argues the measure is needed to stop the spread of sexually transmitted diseases and protect the actors.

If the measure passes, condoms would be require for any sex taking place for adult films. The measure also would require producers to post for display a public health permit obtained from the county that details the condom requirement.

City, state and federal regulations already exist for the adult film industry, which has opposed condom use with the basic argument that viewers don’t want to see them.

The industry largely is based in Los Angeles County in San Fernando Valley.

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Bishop recommits to Maine anti-gay marriage campaign

Bishop Richard Malone of Maine is boasting about his campaign against the legalization of gay marriage in the state.

The letter from the bishop was in response to a report in The New York Times.

Malone, who is being transferred to Buffalo, N.Y., in August, wrote:

“I have not backed down in the church’s defense of marriage. Although not a member of the current political action committee, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland is playing a crucial role in November’s vote, launching a communication and educational effort based on my pastoral letter.

“This document is intended to educate all people of good will about the truth and beauty of marriage as it has been preserved for millenniums by society and various religions.

“Objectively, the essence of marriage can only be the union of one man and one woman open to the new life of children, whom they nurture in their irreplaceable roles as father and mother. Faithful Catholics will continue to defend God’s plan for marriage through its preaching and teaching and in the public square.”

Previously, Malone’s pastoral document was seen as an indication the Church would not campaign against the November ballot measure to legalize gay marriage but instead would educate churchgoers about marriage.

Maine is one of several states with marriage-related questions on the ballot.

In Washington and Maryland, voters will be asked whether they want to repeal recently approved legislation legalizing marriage for gay and lesbian couples. In Minnesota, voters will be asked whether they want to amend the state constitution to ban marriage for same-sex couples.

Since the mid-1990s, the Catholic Church has put a lot of pennies and preaching into fighting marriage equality at the polls. The Church was especially influential in defeating gay marriage in Maine in 2009.

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Obama heckled on AIDS, gay rights at fundraiser

NEW YORK (AP) — President Barack Obama got heckled at a fundraiser Wednesday night by protesters pushing for more funding for AIDS programs and quicker action to allow gays to serve openly in the military.

Activists yelled slogans and held signs aloft reading “Obama broken promises KILL.” Supporters of the president tried to drown them out with shouts of “O-bam-a! O-bam-a!”

The hecklers were so raucous Obama went off-script several times to address them, insisting he’s increased AIDS funding and is working to overturn the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. He told them to go shout at Republicans, noting that a vote on repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell” failed this week in the Senate, with Republicans united in opposition.

“Some of those signs should be going up at the other folks’ events, and folks should be hollering at the other folks’ event. Because the choice in November could not be clearer,” the president said.

Addressing an activist pushing for more funding for global AIDS initiatives, the president said, “We heard your point. And as I said before, we increased AIDS funding. … The people who will take over if we don’t focus on the election, I promise you, will cut AIDS funding.”

The protest took place in the ballroom of the Roosevelt Hotel as Obama raised $1.4 million at receptions and a dinner for the House and Senate Democratic campaign committees.

Democrats are anticipating potentially heavy losses in midterm elections six weeks away, and Obama tried to rally them.

“The last election was about the changing of the guard,” he said. “This election is about guarding the change.”

The president is in New York to attend an annual United Nations meeting.