Va. GOP candidates seen as most anti-gay in years

Low turnout yields dream slate for social conservatives

Washington Blade
June 17, 2005
By Eartha Melzer

Gay rights advocates are blaming a low 10 percent voter turnout in this week’s primaries for the success of several stridently anti-gay candidates seeking office in Virginia.

“If Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell had got together to pick the ticket themselves it might not have been any different,” gay Del. Adam Ebbin (D-Arlington) said about the Republican winners in Virginia’s primary this week.

With almost 99 percent of the primary ballots counted by press time, observers of the Virginia election note victories for a few gay-friendly Democrats and a statewide Republican ticket seen as virulently anti-gay.

Around 10 percent of eligible Virginia voters went to the polls Tuesday to select the Democratic and Republican candidates for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general.

There were also primary challenges in the delegate races in 18 districts.

Josh Israel, who heads the Virginia Gay & Lesbian Democratic Club, said he sees an enormous contrast in the candidates for statewide office.

“[The race is] Tim Kaine, a civil rights attorney, against Jerry Kilgore who has fought against gay rights at every turn and taken tens of thousands of dollars from Pat Robertson,” Israel said.

The nomination of state Sen. Bill Bolling (R-Hanover) for lieutenant governor over the more moderate Republican Sean Connaughton, the chair of the Prince William County Board, is significant, Israel said. Connaughton was supported by pro-business Republicans who don’t want the Republican Party run by Falwell and Robertson, he said.

Log Cabin agrees on GOP slate

Dave Lampo, president of the Virginia Log Cabin Republicans, agreed with Israel’s assessment of the Republican contest for lieutenant governor. “Statewide, the one moderate hope was Sean Connaughton,” Lampo said.

Lampo described Connaughton as fiscally conservative but more socially moderate than Bolling, who has received awards from the Virginia Family Foundation, a conservative group.

Lampo points out that Kaine, the Democratic candidate for governor, opposes gay marriage and civil unions, and Creigh Deeds,the Democratic candidate for attorney general, has “voted on both sides of the issue.”

Del. Robert McDonnell (R-Virginia Beach) received the GOP nomination for attorney general. Israel said that McDonnell once blocked the appointment of a female judge because he suspected her of being a lesbian.

In the Democratic primaries in Northern Virginia, Dave Englin, a former military officer who included gay equality in his platform, became the Democratic nominee for the delegate’s seat in the 45th District. That seat is being vacated by Marian Van Landingham, who is retiring.

Israel said that he expects Englin to be a strong supporter of gay rights.

Del. Michael Golden (R-Fairfax), an arch-conservative Republican who campaigned on promoting traditional marriage and family, was nominated in the 41st District to replace Jim Dillard who has been the most pro-gay Republican in the legislature, Israel said.

Golden will face David Marsden, who has been endorsed by the Virginia Partisans.

Several Republican delegates faced challenges from the right in last week’s primary but only one was successful.

Chris Craddock, a youth minister and conservative Republican in the 67th District (Fairfax-Loudoun) managed to unseat incumbent Gary Reese.

Though Reese was not a gay rights supporter “” the Equality Virginia legislative scorecard gives Reese a zero score “” Craddock falsely claimed on his Web site that Reese had been endorsed by the Washington Blade.

Chuck Caputo will be the Democrat running against Craddock.

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