Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 13 / 29 March 2018

Online Extra: Political Notes: Gay GOPer rules out CA congressional run


Gay Republican rules out CA congressional run, while two gay GOPers seek state legislative seats.
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Gay San Diego Republican Carl DeMaio opted not to mount a second bid for Congress this year in order to focus on his campaign to repeal in November the state gas tax hike that legislators passed in 2017.

His decision also allows him to lead the campaign this June to recall state Senator Josh Newman (D-Fullerton) due to his vote for the gas tax hike.

DeMaio, 43, a former San Diego City Councilman and failed mayoral candidate, ran in 2014 for the state's 52nd District congressional seat and lost to Representative Scott Peters (D-San Diego).

Earlier this month DeMaio had pulled papers to run against Congressman Duncan Hunter (R-Alpine) in the June primary. As the San Diego Union Tribune newspaper noted, DeMaio doesn't live within Hunter's 50th Congressional District but his Rancho Bernardo home is near Escondido and San Marcos, which are in the district. U.S. law does not require a person live in a congressional district in order to represent it. Despite his not living in the district, DeMaio had been encouraged to seek the seat due to Hunter being under investigation for allegedly using campaign funds for personal use. Nonetheless, it had seemed highly unlikely that DeMaio would enter the congressional race.

Hunter not only ignored calls for him to abandon his re-election bid, he recently secured the endorsement of the state Republican Party's executive board, despite the FBI investigation into how he spent campaign funds. First elected in 2009, Hunter maintains the spending was an "honest mistake" and repaid the money. On Friday, the deadline for candidates to officially file for races on the primary ballot, DeMaio emailed his supporters to inform them of his decision not to run against Hunter.

"While I, too, am frustrated with the lack of results and the double-standards for Washington politicians, I believe the Gas Tax Repeal Initiative campaign and our plans for subsequent reform initiatives in California are so much more important," wrote DeMaio, a conservative talk-radio host on KOGO-AM (600). He also used his announcement to goad the state's Democratic leaders who pushed through the gas tax hike, which will pay for highway maintenance and public transit projects throughout California.

"Gov. Jerry Brown and his cronies were elated that I might get distracted by a run for Congress and the millions they've raised for their campaign to fool voters on the gas tax would be unanswered," wrote DeMaio. "Well, I have some bad news for them: I plan to ask everyone who pledged to my race for U.S. Congress to instead contribute to the Gas Tax Repeal Initiative."

It remains to be seen if the initiative will qualify for the fall election, as a different effort already failed to do so. In his March 9 email, DeMaio asked that people donate to the repeal campaign and sounded optimistic that it would make the November ballot. "The Gas Tax Repeal Initiative is on track to qualify in the next few weeks, but we absolutely must be ready to launch the campaign to get the repeal measure passed in November," he wrote.

Due to Hunter's ethical issues, a number of challengers from both the right and left are running against him, including Democrats Ammar Campa-Najjar and Josh Butner.

DeMaio's decision means there are five out candidates running for Congress in California this year. Gay Representative Mark Takano (D-Riverside) is expected to easily win re-election to his 41st Congressional District seat. He was the first, and so far only, LGBT member of the Golden State's congressional delegation. Lesbian retired nurse Marge Doyle is running against Representative Paul Cook (R-Yucca Valley) for his 8th Congressional District seat. Queer geologist Jess Phoenix and bisexual homeless advocate Katie Hill are among the Democrats running to defeat Representative Steve Knight (R-Lancaster) in the 25th Congressional District seat north of Los Angeles.

And transgender Mountain View resident Terra Snover is running as an independent against Congressman Jeff Denham (R-Turlock) in the Central Valley. But Snover is not expected to survive the June primary, where only the top two vote-getters regardless of party affiliation advance to the November election.

Gay GOPers seek state legislative seats

Two gay Republicans are running for state legislative seats this year, though neither is seen as having a chance of winning in the heavily Democratic districts.

In San Jose Anthony Macias, 27, is running against freshman Assemblyman Ash Kalra (D-San Jose) for his 27th Assembly District seat. Two years ago Macias ran for the 15th Senate District seat against the incumbent, state Senator Jim Beall (D-San Jose), who won a second term.

This is the third time Macias has sought the Assembly seat. In 2014 and 2012 he lost against former Democratic Assemblywoman Nora Campos. She was termed out in 2016 and also lost her bid to unseat Beall that year; Macias failed to advance past the June primary, as he came in fourth place.

In southern California Ontario resident Matthew Munson, 38, is running against state Senator Connie M. Leyva (D-Chino) in the 20th Senate District, which encompasses parts of the Inland Empire. It is his third bid for a state legislative seat. Four years ago he also ran against Leyva, 51, for the Senate seat. And in 2002 he ran unsuccessfully for the 61st Assembly District seat.

This is Munson's first time, however, running as an out gay candidate. He didn't publicly disclose his sexual orientation in his previous races, though those close to him knew he was gay. Munson only recently joined Log Cabin Republicans, the group for LGBT members of the party.

In a phone interview with the Bay Area Reporter, Munson acknowledged he had little chance of defeating Leyva. His interest in running is to assure he has a seat on his local Republican County Central Committee, on which he can influence the party platform and endorsements.

"I am a realist. Even if I had money, I would still lose the seat. The Democratic Party registration here, I can't overcome it," said Munson, who grew up in the area and processes inventory for an online retailer.

Beginning with his last campaign, Munson said he started coming out to more and more people within his party. He used his central committee position to work with Log Cabin leaders to remove several anti-gay stances from the state party's platform. Munson said he decided to run again this year so voters upset with Leyva have a choice other than Democrat Paul Vincent Avila, a former Ontario city councilman who was sanctioned by his colleagues and lost a bid for an Assembly seat in 2016. "My last race I got 37.6 percent of the vote. There is an audience in the district to vote for candidates such as myself," said Munson, who plans to seek Log Cabin's endorsement this year.

As for his positions, he doesn't support the state's high-speed rail because it is "not cost effective" and he doesn't think the state should only have a single-payer health insurance system, as some Democrats have proposed. He favors, instead, mirroring Australia's model of having both private health insurance and a public health care system.

"I don't want a single-payer alone where it is the only game in town," said Munson. He agrees with DeMaio that the gas tax hike should be repealed. "It is making it harder for working-class constituents of the district to get to work," said Munson.

Keep abreast of the latest LGBT political news by following the Political Notebook on Twitter @

Got a tip on LGBT politics? Call Matthew S. Bajko at (415) 829-8836 or e-mail

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