A robo-called aimed at attacking Republican frontrunner Mitt Romney over his positions—and alleged positions—on gay civil rights apparently had little effect in Illinois’ primary Tuesday. Romney won the primary with ease and racked up the lion’s share of its delegates.
Romney won 47 percent of the vote in the Illinois primary, beating out challenger Rick Santorum, who took only 35 percent, Ron Paul with nine percent and Newt Gingrich with eight percent.
Caitlin Huxley, president of the state’s chapter of Log Cabin Republicans, said she voted for Ron Paul but many members in Illinois were backing Romney, a few supported Paul or Gingrich, and no one she knows was supporting Santorum.
That is no surprise. Santorum has expressed hostility to efforts to recognize equal rights for gays and has boasted about his active participation in a campaign in Iowa to oust state supreme court justices who upheld the constitutional rights of gays. In previous primary states where Log Cabin has chapters, group leaders have said informal polls of members indicated most were supporting Romney and none were supporting Santorum.
Huxley said she received a pro-Santorum on her cell phone, similar to one that reportedly went out in Ohio, Alabama, and Mississippi. The call urged a vote for Santorum and against Romney, claiming that Romney was pro-gay on a number of issues, including issues where Romney has a clear record of opposing equal rights for gays.
“They seemed to be targeting Chicagoans with this,” said Huxley, “which I don’t think is the way to go.” A group calling itself Jews and Christians Together has said it sent “millions” of robo-calls and emails carrying the anti-Romney message.
Besides the robo-calls, there was relatively little focus on gay-related issues in the Republican primary, even though a marriage equality bill had been introduced recently in the state legislature and had been the subject of some media attention.
Windy City Times, the Chicago gay newspaper, reported that about 50 protesters staged a demonstration outside an appearance by Santorum March 16 at a Christian academy in Arlington Heights. Protesters inside the rally said Santorum did not discuss gay-related issues in his remarks but a same-sex couple staged a kiss-in during the remarks and were escorted out as the audience chanted “USA.” According to the Times, some people attending the rally shouted back at demonstrators as they left the event.
Meanwhile, openly gay Republican presidential candidate Fred Karger celebrated a victory of sorts this week. Primary results from Puerto Rico indicated Karger got more votes there than did Rep. Ron Paul.
Romney won 83 percent of the 118,000 votes cast in the March 18 Puerto Rico primary, followed by Santorum with eight percent. Former Louisiana Governor Buddy Roemer, whose candidacy has gotten even less notice in the media even less than Karger’s, came in third with two percent. “Others” came in fourth, Gingrich came in fifth, just above Karger. Karger won 1.43 percent of the vote, beating Paul who took 1.22 percent.
“Ron Paul has been in all 20 debates, raised $35 million, and has 80% name identification and it looks like we beat him with our message of jobs now, moderation and inclusion,” said Karger in a press release.
Karger made stops in Los Angeles this week and is heading next to New York (whose primary is April 24) and Maryland, where Karger is on the April 3 primary ballot.
In the race to secure the 1,144 delegates necessary to win the Republican presidential nomination, CNN estimates that Romney has 540, Santorum 239, Gingrich, 137, and Paul 69. Estimates by other media offer different numbers, but in each, Romney has more than twice the number of Santorum. But Santorum, Gingrich, and Paul have yet to indicate they have any plans to drop out, leaving the Republican Party wringing its hands over the potential for damage with the continued internal strife.