The Carl DeMaio as Moderate Fallacy

DeMaio Ad-Hale

According to the national media, being a gay Republican candidate for office automatically qualifies one as a moderate.

By Andy Cohen

Carl DeMaio has himself back in the news again.  And this time—for him, at least—its’ for the right reasons.  And no, it’s not the usual UT-San Diego drivel about how Carl is the “Savior of San Diego,” Doug Manchester’s Golden Boy (although given the most recent mayoral selection process, it seems that DeMaio may have fallen out of favor with his “Papa.”)

This time DeMaio has garnered the attention of the national media.  The Wall Street Journal first picked up the story about the first openly gay Republican candidate for Congress to feature his partner in a web ad, a serious departure from accepted GOP norms and surely a shock to the system of the Republican establishment.

The Washington Post then picked up and ran with the story, calling him “a moderate Republican who is running for Congress in Southern California who is openly gay.”

Carl “believes in equality and diversity and is a defender of our personal freedoms,” declares the ad.  This must have come as quite a surprise to the San Diego LGBT community, who let the then mayoral candidate know in no uncertain terms what they thought of DeMaio and his stand on equality during the 2012 San Diego Pride Parade.  He was not exactly warmly received.

DeMaio has, in fact, been soundly rejected by the very San Diego LGBT community that he now so “proudly” claims to be a part of.  “Since the days of Harvey Milk, the LGBT community has been a part of the populist movement to make the American Dream work for everybody.  Carl DeMaio wasn’t a part of that movement; he was an anti-immigrant, anti-worker defender of the 1% who never lifted a finger for women’s rights.  That’s why the LGBT community rejected him so resoundingly,” said local LGBT activist Linda Perine in Britain’s Pink News.

“For Carl DeMaio to be elected mayor would not be a victory for gay and lesbian people, it would be a defeat” Perine said in the New York Times during the 2012 election cycle.

DeMaio is being packaged as a moderate Republican extraordinaire who is poised to take Congress and the GOP by storm, defender of gay rights and equality for all, which makes for a great and attractive story for the national media.  And they’ve bought it, hook, line, and sinker.

But if the national media types had actually bothered to do any research, they would no doubt have to ask themselves why he was so loudly booed at the Pride Parade, an event where in theory he would be welcomed as a community hero.  And they would have to ask themselves why DeMaio lost the San Diego LGBT vote by a two to one margin in the 2012 election, allowing a Filner victory.

Being gay does not automatically make one a moderate, as the WSJ, New York Times, and Washington Post would apparently have us all believe.  By their line of thinking, a gay Republican candidate cannot possibly be a Tea Party extremist.

To paraphrase Sister Sarah, you can dress a pig up in pretty clothes and lipstick, but it’s still a pig, no matter how insistent you are in denying it.  You can paint Carl DeMaio as a reasonable, moderate Republican all you want, but the guy is as Tea Party as they come, only without the batshit crazy and with a lot more snake oil.

DeMaio is so pro-gay rights that he happily and eagerly jumped in league with anti-gay zealots Charles LiMandri and his “Papa” Doug Manchester, two of the biggest supporters of Prop 8, California’s anti-gay marriage amendment that was passed in 2008 (and recently overturned by the Supreme Court).  DeMaio never took sides in the gay marriage fight, revealing his true colors on the matter.  Only recently has he rather meekly acknowledged a tepid support for same-sex marriage.  Gay rights is the Civil Rights issue of our time, and yet DeMaio has sat idly by while Scott Peters—his incumbent opponent in the 52nd Congressional District race—has been an outspoken supporter of gay rights and marriage equality.

DeMaio’s idea of good governance is simple:  The less the better.  He stands for fewer consumer protections, no wage protections, and lower taxes on his wealthy friends.  Collective bargaining is a no-no, having expressed his deeply heartfelt desire to turn San Diego into the “Wisconsin of the West,” referring to that state’s near elimination of union and worker’s rights.   He is vehemently against a raise in the minimum wage.  He is a staunch proponent of outsourcing, particularly when it comes to the public sector.  The man would outsource city jobs to China if he thought it would look good on the balance sheet, which may earn him kudos in conservative circles, but it’s been proven to be bad for the economy.

Austerity is the name of the game for DeMaio.  It’s doubtful that he’s ever met a budget cut he didn’t like.  And as a member of Congress, we can look forward to DeMaio voting in lock step with the Tea Party to ban abortion, defund food stamps, privatize Social Security, and end Medicare as we know it.  Not to mention countless more votes to repeal Obamacare in addition to the 40 some odd votes that have already taken place yet have accomplished exactly nothing.

And regarding health care:  DeMaio would prefer a return to the old system where women paid higher premiums for health insurance than men just because they’re women; individuals can be denied coverage due to a pre-existing condition; kids would no longer be able to stay on their parents’ health plan until they’re 26; insurance companies charge more for less coverage, and were not required to spend at least 80% of the premiums they collected on actual health care, allowing only 20% for “administrative costs” and profits (Medicare operates with only 4% overhead, whereas insurance companies routinely claimed 30% or more for operating costs).

In DeMaio’s world, insurance companies are the good guys, health care consumers are the bad guys.

Carl DeMaio may be gay, but he is certainly no moderate.  It would really be nice if the national media types would actually do some research on DeMaio’s policy positions before they went on spreading that fallacy.


Andy Cohen

Andy spent 15 years working in the highest levels of the San Diego professional sports world, including both the Padres and the Chargers. He began his foray into writing while a volunteer for Francine Busby's 2010 Congressional campaign, eventually becoming a contributor to the now defunct SDNN. He has reported on local and national politics for both the OB Rag and the San Diego Free Press. When not reporting news and events, he offers political and policy commentary from a liberal perspective, occasionally turning back to his sports roots. While he does not hide his more liberal political bent, Andy always strives for fairness in the telling of a story.


  1. avatarGoatskull says

    “Carl DeMaio may be gay, but he is certainly no moderate.”

    As I’ve said before in the SDPF, being gay does not automatically make one a liberal. Whether or not Carl Demaio is a moderate or full blown right wing conservative tea dude, there are lots of people in the gay community who are very conservative, or at least on specific issues. Being gay has nothing what so ever to do with how one feels about environmental issues, boarder security, gun control/gun owners’ rights, business profit vs. workers’ rights. I can go on and on. Someone who is sexually attracted to the sane gender can be just as greedy as anyone else. Regardless of what the LGBT thinks of Carl Demaio, I don’t believe they are all 100 percent on the same page on all issues.

    • avatarAndy Cohen says

      You’re missing the point: The national media is painting DeMaio as a moderate, principally because he’s gay. But as anyone who really knows anything about DeMaio other than the fact that he’s gay knows, there is nothing about him or his politics that can be considered “moderate.” The gay label is simply being used as cover to whitewash his record. “He’s a gay Republican so he must be a moderate.”

      • avatarGoatskull says

        I do understand that point of your piece and I agree. I guess I should have been clearer that what I was saying was more or less a side note.

  2. avatar says

    The national media have been buying into stories from paid public relations practitioners for a long time — this is nothing new. Since gay is all the rage, why not portray Carl De Maio as a moderate?

    The national press ran trumped-up op-eds from “experts” who’d been paid to justify George W.Bush’s many wars. They puffed Alan Bersin (page one stories Wall Street Journal and New York Times) when he was trying to make a national name for himself. Recently they fell all over handsome flipper Nathan Fletcher (New York Times David Brooks and LA Times Patt Morrison.) They joined the harpy chorus to present troubled Mayor Bob Filner as a man without redeeming social value or a lifetime liberal record (New York Times Gail Collins and LA Times Sandy Banks and John Stewart and Rachel Maddow from TVlandia.)

    You don’t need to tell us that DeMaio is no moderate. Tell it to the papers who ran that fiction.

  3. avatarKurt K. Bassett says

    Mr. Cohen,
    You nailed it!! Carl DeMaio’s charade, masking himself as a “moderate” Republican is nothing more than the Manchester media machine trying it’s hardest to confuse the voting public on the reality of this two-faced, incredibly self centered, egomaniac politician!
    The “gay” community, learned that Mr. DeMaio is nothing close to “moderate” this last election cycle. We know him for the “puppet” that he is!! But the Manchester machine is trying desperately to convince the rest of San Diego that being “gay”, means moderate, supposedly. Well, unless the voting public is a stupid as some say, or really doesn’t care, this charade is not going to work.
    Why? You might ask. Well because we who do care, and do understand that this game is being played, are trying to inform the rest of San Diego that its just another Manchester LIE!!
    Again, Thank you for your article, and your insight!!

  4. avatarMaureen S. says

    Agreed, but wish you had cites for your conclusions. Give the scholarly back-up so that this is not an ” op-ed” piece.
    By the way, what all this kerfuffle over Carl’s ad “featuring his partner?” it’s questionable that Carl is holding Hale’s hand and there is NO indication that Hale is his partner. I know these guys and had to look at the footage several times before I could evem guess what is being referred to as the “openly gay” part.

  5. avatar says

    I don’t get the LGBT community’s antipathy to conservatives. Gays are often the victims of violence, so gun control harms their prospects for self-defense. The LGBT community seems to be more entrepreneurial than average, so high taxes and burdensome regulation hurts their businesses. The gist of your article basically states that the LGBT community has joined a certain coalition of the left. Maybe they have joined the wrong coalition. The Republican party is trending more libertarian, a faction where the adherents believe government has no business regulating sex lives; I think the LGBT community should be re-thinking its options.

    • avatarBrent E. Beltrán says

      So you think the LGBT community should vote Republican? Tell that to the very vocal and powerful gay haters and religious fanatics that run the party. If DeMaio wins, big if, he’s going to be marginalized within the Repugs.

    • avatarmichael-leonard says

      BDaddy, the answer to your (reasonable) confusion is that the basis for all right-wing politics is selfishness; the further right, the more selfish. Libertarian politics can be said to be sort of middle-of-the-road; tea party, obviously, very selfish.
      Any group that has experienced discrimination will cleve to the political segment that is opposite to that. Ergo, the LGBT community goes left.

  6. avatarChuck says

    “without the batshit crazy”? Really? Have you ever spent prolonged time with this person? It’s very hard to describe. It’s well beyond snake oil. Things get well into the crazy zone very soon. What’s so fascinating is that he never thinks the smoke, mirrors, slime, fabrication, plagiarism, revisionist history, fake bios, questionable past business endeavors (non-profit – r u kidding me???), or non-stop questionable public behavior, even remotely reflect on himself. It’s like he lives life on a parallel realm. If it wasn’t so appalling – he is after all campaigning to become a national lawmaker – it is downright fascinating to observe. If you have the resources, dive in. You won’t be disappointed!