Republican California gubernatorial candidate Bill Simon was booted Tuesday from a planned fund-raiser with Dick Cheney's gay daughter after he repudiated his campaign's response to a gay rights questionnaire, saying someone signed his name on it without his approval.
The response to 24 questions from the California chapter of gay political group Log Cabin Republicans included pledges to sign a gay pride day proclamation and to support job benefits for partners of gay state employees. After Simon's answers were publicized a week ago, he twice discussed gay rights with the news media without disavowing his response to the questionnaire, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Simon acknowledged that his campaign sent the completed questionnaire, dated August 9, to the organization. But on Tuesday he denied signing it and reaffirmed his opposition to several gay rights measures. "Someone answered it for me," Simon told reporters during a campaign stop at the Calvary Christian Center in Sacramento. "I did not review or approve that questionnaire."
The Republican Unity Coalition, a gay-straight Republican group, said Simon would not be welcome at its fund-raiser Thursday in Los Angeles. The guest list includes a who's who of prominent state Republicans. Simon was to speak along with Mary Cheney, the vice president's lesbian daughter.
David Hanson, president of the California Log Cabin Republicans, which produced a questionnaire that Simon answered last month, accused Simon of "a complete turnaround to pander to the religious right'' and said he couldn't be trusted. On the questionnaire Simon pledged to declare a gay pride day if elected, said he supports domestic-partnership laws if they're not based on sexual orientation, and promised to uphold a variety of gay-friendly laws and regulations.
Simon's new stance appeased Lou Sheldon of the Traditional Values Coalition, who withdrew his support last week when the candidate's responses to the Log Cabin questionnaire were made public. "The responses to the Log Cabin survey did not sound like the Bill Simon I know, for one very good reason--they were not written or approved by Bill Simon,'' said Sheldon. "I still strongly support Bill Simon for governor."
Simon ran in the GOP primary as a "conservative Republican," but he must gain support from moderates and independents if he is to unseat Democratic incumbent Gray Davis in November.
The Republican Unity Coalition, which is seeking to raise $1 million for "Big Tent" Republican candidates who embrace inclusiveness, said its fund-raiser would go forward without Simon. "It is hugely disappointing to us to see Bill Simon bow under the pressure of a small fringe group who evidently yanked his chain hard the first time he reached out to us and to all voters in the middle, where elections are won," the coalition said in a statement.