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Posts for October, 2012

The Meeting That Led to LCR’s Endorsement

Jim Burroway

October 24th, 2012

It’s beginning to sound more like a spy thriller. Picture this: a furtive fifteen-minute meeting last week at a park in Loudoun County, Virginia between a presidential candidate and a member of the Republican National Committee’s finance committee to talk about how to make the presidential candidate more likable among gay voters. One way to do that, of course, is if a certain gay Republican group, which that finance committee member just happens to helm, were to endorse that presidential candidate, even though that candidate’s positions are the same positions which prevented a previous sitting president from earning that same endorsement. This meeting went like this:

During the meeting, Cooper said Romney was “very interested” in talking about different state laws on workplace discrimination for LGBT people. A total of 21 states have laws barring job discrimination against gay, lesbian and bisexual people; 16 states and D.C. protect all LGBT people from job bias.

“He is aware that there is a kind of patchwork or quilt of states that don’t, and that inequity was something of discussion,” Cooper said. “Some states have it, and some states don’t and this is where it gets confusing and problematic from an administrative standpoint as well.”

Cooper said he impressed upon Romney that ENDA would be consistent with his goals for economic stimulus and job growth because many major businesses have non-discrimination policies in place and discrimination may be preventing LGBT Americans from entering the workforce.

Asked if there was any portion of the current version of the legislation to which Romney objected, Cooper said Romney didn’t express concern about any particular language and did not object to protecting people from discrimination on the basis of gender identity.

Former Rep. Jim Kolbe, who was also present, talked about Romney’s “personal view of opposing workplace discrimination.” And when Kolbe  talked about his inability to sponsor his foreign national partner for residency, Romney nodded  “but offered no further response.” So on substance, all we have are a lot of descriptions of what Romney did not say, which is pretty remarkable from a man who is known to say a lot of things which have the effect of changing his positions more often than I change my socks. (I can usually go a full day in the same pair.) And get this: Cooper then told The Blade, “That was the most substantive meeting that we had with them.”

So what have we learned? We learned that a fifteen-minute nonsubstantive meeting between an RNC finance committee member and his presidential candidate, complete with head-nods and knowing glances, is the basis for LCR’s endorsement. That pretty much sums up the whole sorry episode. All that’s missing are secret handshakes.

More On Kolbe and Bee’s Parting of Ways

Jim Burroway

July 10th, 2008

Former US Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-AZ) still isn’t directly saying why he has withdrawn his support for Arizona State Senate President Tim Bee’s run for Kolbe’s old Congressional seat. But what he’s not saying is leaving little doubt about the reasons.

Last week, Kolbe announced that he would no longer serve as Bee’s honorary chairman. That announcement came just a few days after Bee’s crucial sixteenth vote to place the anti-marriage amendment again on the ballot. A similar effort was rejected by Arizona voters in 2006.

While Kolbe isn’t talking about his decision, that’s not keeping others from talking. Mark Kimble, writing for today’s Tucson Citizen, describes Kolbe’s reversal as “a stunning six-month turnaround”:

On Jan. 19, Kolbe stood at Bee’s side as Bee announced he would run against Democratic incumbent Gabrielle Giffords for the U.S. House in District 8 – a seat that Kolbe held until he retired in 2006. When Bee stressed his commitment to bipartisanship, Kolbe told reporters, “That’s what we need in Washington.”

Kolbe’s support went beyond that. Just last month, Kolbe opened his Washington, D.C., townhome to host a fundraiser for Bee. And now Kolbe is out, with neither man saying why.

Kimble reports that Kolbe remained circumspect in a telephone interview. When asked why he withdrew, Kolbe said he would “not have a long, protracted discussion” about it. But when asked directly whether he still supported Bee, Kolbe demurred, saying, “I’m not going to get into playing that game.”

You know, if Kolbe still supported Bee in the general, non-endorsing, “I hope we can change the seat to a Republican seat” kind of way, that would not be difficult to say. But Kolbe didn’t even offer that minimal support.

But if that’s not clear enough, there’s this: When Bee was asked why Kolbe withdrew his support, Bee said, “Jim has some personal things going on now that he needs to focus on.” What are those “personal things”? Illness? Death in the family? Catching up on All My Children episodes? He wouldn’t say. But whatever they are, they aren’t keeping Kolbe from hosting a fundraiser tomorrow for state Rep, Pete Hershberger (R-Tucson), who is running for the state Senate.

Why Hershberger and not Bee? Maybe it’s because Hershberger was one of only two state House Republicans who voted against the anti-marriage amendment last May.

Kolbe Ends Support For Bee

Jim Burroway

July 5th, 2008

Kolbe and BeeLast week, after Arizona Senate President Tim Bee (right) buckled under the threats and pressure from Cathi Herrod’s Center for Arizona Policy and cast the cowardly deciding vote to place the anti-marriage amendment on the ballot, we asked where former Rep. Jim Kolbe stood in all this. Kolbe (left) was Tim Bee’s honorary chairman for Bee’s campaign for Congress in Arizona’s eighth district, which was the the seat that Kolbe once held as an out gay Congressman for ten years.

Today, we may have something of an answer:

“I will not be actively campaigning for Bee,” the former Republican congressman said during a telephone interview with the Herald/Review on Thursday.

… Tom Dunn, a spokesman for the Bee campaign, also confirmed Kolbe’s decision. “For personal reasons, Mr. Kolbe is no longer associated with our campaign,” Dunn said. Neither Kolbe nor Dunn provided specific reasons for the former congressman dropping out of campaigning for Bee.

I don’t understand why Kolbe needs to be so coy about this, but I’m glad that he’s distancing himself from Bee nevertheless.

In 2006, the eighth Congressional district defeated Prop 107, that year’s proposed anti-marriage amendment, by more than ten percentage points: 45.4% to 54.6%. That was a significantly wider margin than the statewide tally of 48.2% to 51.8%.

Update: While Kolbe is silent on why he broke with Bee, Daniel Scarpinato is setting the obvious conclusions to print in this morning’s Arizona Daily Star (registration required):

According to Dunn, the switch came within the last week. Also in the last week: Bee, president of the state Senate, was the decisive vote on sending a measure to the ballot asking voters to define marriage in the Arizona Constitution as solely between one man and one woman.

And Kolbe, the only openly gay Republican in Congress before his retirement in 2006, had expressed disagreement with Bee on the issue shortly after it was announced in January that Kolbe would be the honorary chairman for Bee’s campaign. For his part, Bee dodged questions about the measure all year — and avoided bringing it up for a vote until the final hours of a 166-day legislative session. Up to that point, Kolbe had been active in the campaign throughout the spring and summer, hosting a fundraiser for Bee in Washington just last month.

… The support of Kolbe — a highly popular moderate during his 22-year tenure representing Southern Arizona — was a major highlight of Bee’s long-awaited campaign kickoff in January. Kolbe had refused to endorse the GOP nominee for his seat in 2006, Randy Graf. And we all remember how that ended.

For those outside of Arizona who don’t know, Graf lost badly what had been a reasonably reliable Republican seat to Democrat Gabrielle Giffords.

Meanwhile, Bee and Cochise County Republicans are trying to pretend that all is well.

Kolbe and Bee

Jim Burroway

June 27th, 2008

Kolbe and Bee“Tim Bee has demonstrated his toughness and his compassion, his ability to lead while at the same time listening to others. These are skills few people in public life have. We need Tim Bee working for us in Congress.” — Jim Kolbe (left), the gay former U.S. Congressman for the district Tim Bee is running in and the campaign’s “Honorary Chairman.”

Tim Bee was the sixteenth vote in the Arizona Senate’s shameless vote to put the anti-marriage amendment on the ballot yet again. Bee is running for the congressional seat that Kolbe once held. Kolbe voted for DOMA in 1996, a vote that led to his outing. I have heard him speak passionately against Prop 107 in 2006.

So what does Kolbe have to say about this? Is he ducking back into the closet again?

[Hat tip: Tucson Observer]