Babeu wins in Arizona

Timothy Kincaid

November 14th, 2012

Amidst the many wins for our community – marriage, legislators, and even the first openly gay US Senator (no, a certain bachelor from a southern state doesn’t count) – it was difficult to note all the changes and interesting results of the election. And one story which I had been following was overlooked.

Paul Babeu, the openly gay conservative sheriff of Pinal County, Arizona, was re-elected. Also elected was Lando Voyles, Babeu’s hand-picked candidate for Pinal County Attorney.

This is an interesting turn of events in that it runs counter to presumptions about rural conservatives and anti-gay attitudes.

Paul Babeu sought to leverage his position as Sheriff into a Congressional seat. But in February, the Phoenix New Times – disliking Babeu’s political positions – ran a story on him which was designed to discredit him with his constituents. Assuming that those who supported Babeu would desert him if they knew he was gay, they ran a story about him threatening a former boyfriend with deportation. To their surprise, Babeu immediately acknowledged his orientation – and endorsed marriage equality and open military service – but fought the accusation of misuse of power.

Over the next month, the Phoenix New Times doubled down on their story, regularly adding sensational tidbits, seeming to hope that Pinal County voters would be turned off by seeing their sheriff in his underwear (provided by the ex-boyfriend) or reading his personal text messages. In the process, they veered into blatant homophobia, calling for Babeu to be fired for joining a gay dating site and ratcheting up the implication, “don’t vote for Babeu, see he’s GAY!!” And Babeu eventually dropped out of his congressional race and ran for reelection as Sheriff.

However, by the end of their effort, it seemed increasingly evident that this was a personal vendetta for the New Times and they lost much of their credibility. Rather than discredit Babeu with his constituents, this may have became a moment when they decided that they preferred openly gay, marriage-supporting conservatives to straights who they believed would be less law-and-order. And so not only did they reelect Babeu, but they confirmed his choice for County Attorney. Which, while odd progress, is progress.

It will be interesting to see how this develops.

When gay Democrats began to gain access and influence a few decades back, it was not always with joyous acclaim; there were period of tolerance in which some more conservative or older Democrats may not have supported our rights but were willing to work with specific gay politicians. They were seen as “our gay politician”, accepted despite long-established prejudices. And slowly, through time and familiarity, “our gay politicians” broke down stereotypes and presumptions. Though I’m no fan of Barney Frank, he was effective in transforming many Democratic leaders from being tolerant of “our gay politician” to support for the gay community.

I think that for many Pinal County Republicans, Paul Babeu might be seen “our gay politician”. They may be unsupportive of our community in general and even dislike “those other liberal gay politicians”, but be able to find ownership of this one. I wonder if Babeu can be effective in gradually breaking stereotypes and engendering support.


November 14th, 2012

I well give you credit for a well thought out article. However, I take issue with your supprt of this man, not for political reasons, but for the cause of human compassion. He has used his position to demonize Hispanics, who are not only a large percentage of southern AZ, but have roots- that go back long before European-American set foot in this part of the world. Anyone who hangs out with neo-Nazies it not fit to serve in public office. Your claim of the New Times attack is a bit fresh….New Times I will admit loves got you journalism, but it is journalism like the New Times does that often uncovers hypocracy….I am sure the New Times has no problem with gay politicians, just gay politicians who demonize undocuments Mexicans and then gets cault sleeping with one. True irony there


November 14th, 2012

He’s smart honest good at his job and half the state probably wants to bed him, gay and straight alike. Of course he’s going to get reelected.

Jim Hlavac

November 14th, 2012

The idea that whom I smooch is a political position, or that it impels me to vote for this party or the other is absurd. When I first started voting more than 35 years ago, every politician was against gay folks – we were all criminals even. So I wanted to know not who was “pro-gay” or “gay friendly” — I wanted to know who will cut the taxes, and make some sense on a host of non-gay issues. Then over time — because of what we gay folks did — not what some politicians lead on, for they have followed us, even Obama has followed us, and not we him — some politicians began to court gay votes. And soon, all will. The whole nation is evolving after all – – and they’ve been doing it for decades. Indeed, 95% of what gay folks have won in this nation in terms of acceptance and decency came not from politics at all – but through our patient discussion with family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, etc. Politicians were the last on our boat.

As for “neo-Nazis,” well, no, I’m not happy with that, but on the other hand, — any one who hangs out with neo-Communists doesn’t deserve election, in my book — which leaves me precious few to vote for — since the Republican party has been seized by fundamentalists and the Democrats by socialists — and both are authority freaks — I’m going to keep voting libertarian – -and urge everyone else to do so too.

Timothy (TRiG)

November 15th, 2012

Anyone who thinks the US Democratic party are socialists could do with meeting some real socialists now and again.



November 15th, 2012

I don’t have a problem with him being a gay republican, but I have a problem with the alleged abuse of power. This is the same state that lets crazy, old man Sheriff Arpaio run things. I don’t care if you think prison and jail exist to punish those in them, but what he has done against people is inhumane. I know that he was cleared of power, but I am still leery of cops especially southern cops.

Southern cops have a very bad track record when it comes to minority groups.

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