Can This Gay Republican Win a House Seat?

Carl DeMaio, who won the Republican primary in California's 52nd district, has a shot of becoming the first GOP congressman who's been out from the get-go.

BY Daniel Reynolds

July 17 2014 7:31 PM ET

Carl DeMaio

A gay Republican’s congressional bid is receiving national attention, with the candidate characterizing himself as the future of the party.

Carl DeMaio, a former San Diego City Council member, spoke to the ABC News–Yahoo! program Top Line. in an interview posted Thursday, about his position as the Republican candidate in California’s 52nd Congressiona District of, where he is challenging incumbent Democrat Scott Peters.

In the interview, DeMaio said he believes the Republican Party will allow space for a gay, pro-choice candidate such as himself.

“I actually represent the new generation that is coming up,” DeMaio asserted.

The 39-year-old politician dismissed those who say his sexual orientation will keep him from becoming a leader in the party, and he pointed to his victory at the primary as evidence.

“There, unfortunately, have been some few voices who have said that I am somehow disqualified from any leadership role because of whom I love, and I think that my constituents spoke loudly and clearly on June 3 in the primary that they completely disagree with that kind of thinking,” he said.

“I believe that I reflect the traditional roots of the Republican Party … a party that traditionally supports economic freedom,” he added. “Can’t we get government out of our bedrooms and out of our private lives?”

If he wins in November, DeMaio would be the first gay Republican to be out from the beginning of his congressional career. Two other gay Republicans, Steve Gunderson of Wisconsin and Jim Kolbe of Arizona, came out (actually, in Gunderson’s case, he was outed) while already serving in Congress. Each then won reelection as an openly gay candidate, but both have now left Congress. 

DeMaio, who was also featured in the National Journal last week in an article titled, “Yes, Carl DeMaio Is a Gay Republican,” made history earlier this year by becoming the first congressional candidate in either party to feature a same-sex partner in a campaign ad.  But DeMaio brushed off this distinction in his remarks to ABC.

“I had thought that the progressive, tolerant, inclusive Democratic Party had certainly gotten a couple of Democrats over the years to do this,” he said. “But my reaction was, ‘Why is this a big deal?’ How many straight candidates go out on the campaign trail and they feature their spouse, their children, their grandchildren, some of them [with] their pets?”

Watch the video interview with Top Line here.

Tags: Politicians

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