Log Cabin Condemns Christensen Campaing in Nebraska

Leading Republicans Sharply Attack Ugly Turn of Dobson-Endorsed Candidate for Governor

May 11, 1998 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Blogger Tumblr

(WASHINGTON, DC) – A national gay Republican organization condemned the anti-gay turn in the Republican gubernatorial primary campaign of Rep. Jon Christensen (R-NE) in Nebraska, warning that it is another product of the drive by far right leaders to dominate the GOP.

"It's the kind of extreme and hateful gay-bashing that makes a substantial number of swing voters disgusted with the Republican Party at a national level," said Richard Tafel, executive director of Log Cabin Republicans.

Tafel singled out Christensen's recent comments where he was quoted as saying that he would never hire a gay or lesbian person to work for him as Governor, and the strong endorsement received by anti-gay leader James Dobson of Focus on the Family.

"Jon Christensen not only endorsed discrimination, he promised to practice blatant discrimination against people in his own office by dismissing a person's merit and focusing on their sexual orientation," Tafel said. "It's ridiculous to believe that there will not be a single gay person working anywhere in the entire state government, so what he is proposing is off the deep end."

In recent weeks, Dobson has isued public threats against the GOP that unless it adopts his far right social agenda, he will lead a revolt against the party among his followers. Dobson and anti-gay activist Gary Bauer have funded a number of far right candidates in GOP primaries this year with the aim of defeating moderate Republican front-runners. Dobson demanded a high-level meeting with GOP Congressional leaders last week, at which he reportedly repeated his threats of a revolt again.

"It's clear that Jon Christensen is a foot soldier in the Dobson and Bauer army," Tafel said. "And if the Republican Party marches with him, it will march off a cliff – we will lose the House in 1998."

Christensen's hard-right turn in the final days of the campaign drew angry denunciations from most of the state's top GOP officials. Tafel praised the way in which the senior Republican leadership has responded to Christensen's campaign, particularly his attacks on moderate GOP candidate Mayor Mike Johanns of Lincoln, his leading opponent for the nomination.

"Mayor Johanns, Congressman Bereuter and Senator Hagel in particular have shown real leadership in response to the events of the last few days," Tafel said.

Johanns, who has refused to attack gays in his campaign, told the Omaha World-Herald that "the Jon Christensen campaign has no moral base, no moral compass. It is win-at-any-cost politics and it is the worst of the worst... We are seeking the highest office in the state. We are not running for sophomore class president."

"Nobody in the Republican Party of Nebraska can be proud of Jon Christensen's conduct, and I hate to have to say that. I hope the people of the state will get out and vote and register their feelings on the conduct of this campaign," U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE) told the Lincoln Journal-Star.

Congressman Doug Bereuter (R-NE), who maintains a non-discrimination policy in his Congressional office that includes gays and lesbians, told the Journal-Star: "The Christensen campaign has sunk to a new low in Nebraska politics."

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.