3 gay GOP congressional runs come as party tries to evolve on marriage, hold on to base – The Washington Post
For some time now, the Republican Party has been working to expand its membership by seeking support from groups that have, in recent years at least, been hesitant to get under the “big tent.” Runs by three openly gay politicians on the Republican ticket means those efforts are enjoying some success but it remains to be seen what such inclusiveness will do to the Republican brand which has been a home for a host of socially conservative groups including the so-called Christian right.
Is the party going to be able to take advantage of the gay vote and still appease its socially conservative base by opposing gay marriage as a platform plank? Or will the brand move back toward the fiscally conservative, socially libertarian if not liberal party some saw it as during the times when the Eisenhower administration introduced the U.S Civil Rights Commission to the world?
The party already is feeling the effects of trying to recruit African Americans and Hispanics while harboring a number of politicians who, at the least, seem hostile to people of color or hostile toward political gains those groups want. But, if the Republican Party is successful in recruiting more blacks, browns, gays and other different groups, will they eventually start to crowd the party’s traditional base from underneath the tent? Will they change the party brand as they come in? That is the question.
3 gay GOP congressional runs come as party tries to evolve on marriage, hold on to base
By Wesley Lowery
BELMONT, N.H. — Dan Innis is standing at the back of the main dining room of the Top of the Town Restaurant as people straggle in for the monthly meeting of the Belknap County Republican Committee.
The aroma of prime rib and mashed potatoes streams from the nearby kitchen and fills the room, which has floral dressings on the windows and an American flag hung on the back wall.
As about three dozen people file in, one woman stops to ask Innis, one of the meeting’s featured speakers, about his position on gay rights and equality issues: Will they be his major focus if elected?
It is a pointed question because Innis is running for Congress. He is gay, and he is a Republican.
His response: “I am running on free-market issues. That’s what I’m focused on,” Innis says. “The social issue has been settled here in New Hampshire.”
The voter is satisfied. “Well, with that answer, I’m very comfortable supporting you,” she tells him before making the way to her seat.
Innis is a hotel owner who speaks with the confident, matter-of-fact cadence crafted during his years as a business professor.
He is one of three openly gay GOP candidates who, 10 years after the nation’s first gay marriages were performed in Massachusetts, are vying for offices on Capitol Hill this year.