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Gay GOP candidate for U.S. House faces criticism from opposing camps

Tuesday, July 15, 2014
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California Republican congressional candidate Carl DeMaio is one of three openly gay Republicans running for Congress this year, but he’s the only one who has managed to make political adversaries of both social conservative and gay rights organizations. Manuel Balce Ceneta, AP

California Republican congressional candidate Carl DeMaio is one of three openly gay Republicans running for Congress this year, but he’s the only one who has managed to make political adversaries of both social conservative and gay rights organizations.

WASHINGTON — Carl DeMaio is one of three openly gay Republicans running for Congress this year, but he’s the only one who has managed to make political adversaries of both social conservative and gay rights organizations.

He’s too open about his sexual orientation for some social conservatives, but too far to the right and too quiet on social issues to win over the gay rights groups.

And that’s just fine with DeMaio, who stresses fiscal conservatism as he tries to attract voters in the San Diego-area district.

“It means you’re right in the middle where the American people are,” he said in a recent interview.

Running in a district almost evenly divided among Democrats, Republicans and independents, DeMaio gives the GOP one of its best chances for winning a Democratic-controlled seat.

But the gay rights community leans heavily Democratic, and the Human Rights Campaign endorsed the Democratic incumbent, Rep. Scott Peters.

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Meanwhile, the socially conservative Family Research Council and others weighed in during the primary with mailers, robocalls and radio ads to boost the prospects of another Republican. The conservative groups are expected to stand down for the general election, but haven’t made a firm commitment.

Across the country, the two other gay Republicans, Dan Innis of New Hampshire and Richard Tisei of Massachusetts, have so far avoided being targeted by social conservatives as they prepare for September primaries. Innis faces former Republican Rep. Frank Guinta. Tisei is unopposed. Both were endorsed by the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, which called them “pragmatic and visionary leaders” whose election would “shatter a glass ceiling for the Republican Party.”

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