After Capps Victory, Bauer Looks at Illinois

Now Moves to Short-Circuit Strong GOP Senate Challenge

March 13, 1998 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Blogger Tumblr

(WASHINGTON, DC) – A leader of the anti-gay far right movement, whose PAC is spending millions of dollars to defeat strong Republican candidates who support gay rights, is turning his sights on the Illinois Republican primary for U.S. Senate.

Gary Bauer, who heads the Family Research Council and the Campaign for Working Families PAC, dumped hundreds of thousands of dollars into the January special election primary in California's 22nd Congressional District. Bauer's Washington-based PAC poured money into the insurgent campaign of Assemblyman Tom Bordonaro (R) with the express purpose of defeating State Senator Brooks Firestone (R), a gay rights supporter and the candidate widely reported as having the best chance at recapturing the seat for the GOP. Bordonaro defeated Firestone, and went on to lose in a landslide against Democrat Lois Capps on Tuesday.

"By targeting moderate Republicans and defeating them in primaries one after another, Gary Bauer is losing elections for Republicans," said Richard Tafel, executive director of Log Cabin Republicans. "Bauer is doing for the Democrats what they have been unable to do themselves, and he could end up throwing the Congress back to them."

On Tuesday, March 17, Bauer may strike again. In the GOP primary in Illinois, two similar candidates are facing off to challenge Senator Carol Moseley-Braun (D). All available polling indicates that gay rights supporter Loleta Didrickson (R) will have the best shot at beating Moseley-Braun in November, but anti-gay insurgent Peter Fitzgerald (R) is closing on Didrickson, spending millions of dollars of his own money attacking Didrickson's moderate positions on social issues. Bauer has signed a joint letter with anti-gay activist James Dobson in support of Fitzgerald, and the Christian Coalition will distribute voter guides supporting Fitzgerald and slamming Didrickson over the weekend.

A Fitzgerald-Bauer victory in Illinois would echo the victory of far right candidate Al Salvi (R) in 1996 over Lt. Governor Bob Kustra (R), a moderate Republican who had polled ahead of Democrats among the general electorate. Salvi went on to be crushed by Democrat Dick Durbin in the general election.

"Much of the Republican leadership bears some of the blame for Gary Bauer," Tafel said. "By coddling extremists like Bauer and Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell, they have created a monster that they may not be able to tame. The political calculation of pandering to the religious right is costing us more and bigger elections year after year."

Log Cabin Republicans is the nation's largest gay and lesbian Republican organization, with 50+ chapters nationwide, a full-time Washington office and a federal political action committee. Log Cabin supported Brooks Firestone in California, and supports Loleta Didrickson in Tuesday's Illinois primary.