Windy City Times: “Fred Karger: Gay GOP Candidate with Presidential Aspirations”

Nov 24, 2010

windy city times

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Fred Karger: Gay GOP candidate with presidential aspirations

by Ross Forman


Fred Karger went on a trip last February to Washington D.C., New York and New Hampshire. He wanted to see and hear first-hand the responses to his plan to run for president of the United States.

Karger, a Republican, got favorable responses in the nation’s capitol and in New York, though nothing overwhelming either way, pro or con.

“I was planning to drop out,” Karger admits months later.

Then he went to the key political state of New Hampshire, including a meeting with about 35 students from the University of New Hampshire’s Gay-Straight Alliance ( GSA ) . They were sitting on the floor at the university’s student center, and Karger spoke, almost ad lib.

“These kids convinced me, without saying anything,” that I should run, Karger said. “The look and the feel of these students was as if to say, ‘A gay man can run for president, that’s great!’

“They seemed enthralled,” and Karger has stayed in contact with many from that meeting via social media.

The next night, he met with nine students at Dartmouth—and got the same, uplifting response.

“Those two meetings are what did it,” Karger said. “As I’ve said since day one, the reason I’m doing this is, I want to do this for the younger generation; I don’t want them to have to go through the hell that so many of us have [ while ] growing up.

“The positive reinforcement [ I received ] from these college students … I knew then that I was on the right track and I knew it was something I wanted to do.”

So yes, Fred Karger the fighter, Fred Karger the activist, Fred Karger the Chicagoan is also, potentially, Fred Karger the candidate for the highest elected office in this country.

Well, he might be a candidate.

At the end of the summer of 2010, he officially established the Fred Karger Presidential Exploratory Committee.

Fred Karger wants a shot at Washington.

“I’m very seriously considering [ running ] and trying to position myself to be competitive, which is very difficult for a first-time, unknown candidate,” he said. “I’ve got some things going for me and things have been exceeding my expectations at this point.

“When I started this process, I didn’t know if I would catch on at all.”

But he has.

His campaign includes a catchy “Fred Who?” slogan, but he’s getting his word out.

Karger, who now lives in southern California, has adopted a two-state strategy, looking at Iowa and New Hampshire, where he has spent the bulk of his time and where he is focused for the foreseeable future.

“I wanted to meet a lot of the critical establishments [ in those two states ] , go to a lot of the colleges and universities [ in those states ] , and talk to the media,” Karger said. “I’ve been treated more seriously [ in Iowa and New Hampshire ] than I would have in other states because, in those two states, they are so focused on the presidential campaign, even two years early.

“If I’m in a restaurant in Los Angeles and tell the waiter that I’m thinking of running for President and give them a sticker or t-shirt, they may look at me and think I’m crazy. But if I do that same thing in, say, Manchester, N.H., or Des Moines, Iowa, they will stop in their tracks and engage in serious conversation. And then when I meet with political people or the press in Manchester or Des Moines, it’s truly magnified. They are far more interested.”

Yes, Karger would be the first openly gay candidate in history.

“As out of left field as I’m coming, it’s not as crazy [ as it may sound ] if you look at my resume and see that I’ve been involved in politics, starting with Charles Percy in 1966. I’ve been involved [ in politics ] for 44 years, though not full-time,” Karger said.

Karger graduated from New Trier High School in Winnetka in 1968, then spent four years at the University of Denver. His resume includes experience in politics and governmental affairs for 35 years. As a partner of the Dolphin Group, Karger managed numerous federal, state and local campaigns. He ran several successful opposition campaigns, including heavy involvement in three Presidential races.

In 2006, Karger founded Save the Boom, a grassroots campaign to save the oldest gay bar in the Western United States: the landmark Boom Boom Room and Coast Inn in Laguna Beach, Calif. He then started Californians Against Hate, created to bring public attention to the major donors to the Yes on Proposition 8 campaign. Karger organized boycotts against four mega-donors to Proposition 8.

“I started looking into the idea of running for president during the summer of 2009,” Karger said. “I’ve seen one very substantial poll state that the majority of Americans would support an openly gay candidate for president much more than they are for gay marriage.

“In my life, we certainly have seen a change in the acceptance of/for gay people, including candidates, actors, businessmen, neighbors, etc.”

Karger came out to some at 18 in 1968, the year before Stonewall.

“I think people are more comfortable with gay people today; I think my timing is excellent,” he said.

Karger spent time in the 1970s as an actor in commercials, television and film, including an appearance in Airport 1975.

Now his life is centered on Iowa and New Hampshire, where he is renting a home. Karger will travel New Hampshire repeatedly and extensively to cultivate voters, especially the 18- to 29-year-olds. He plans extensive walking campaigns across the state, introducing himself door to door.

His goal is to give away one campaign frisbee to every household in New Hampshire. “I want to make it fun, social,” said Karger, who recently hired his first college coordinator—at the University of New Hampshire. Ultimately, he will have five college coordinators, “to help make this political [ machine ] go.”

“There are times when I get these moments when I cannot believe I am going through this effort. I thought for so long that, being openly gay, I could never run for any [ political ] office, let alone president of the United States. That weighs very heavy on me.

Just being able to go into the New Hampshire Republican party office and speak with the executive director as an openly gay Republican … and yet I never, ever in my wildest dreams thought that would happen.”

Karger has been self-funding his drive so far, and will for the rest of 2010. Next year, the fundraising truly starts. “There’s a huge amount of work to do,” Karger said. “The reporters who I have spoken to, and I’m talking about reporters who have covered politics for years or decades, are taking me very serious. That’s encouraging.”

Karger, who came out publicly a little over four years ago, still returns to Chicago several times annually. And he still calls Chicago home.

“It’s always home, and always will be home,” he said. “I have a great pride in the city. Chicago was an ideal place for me to grow up. I still have a lot of close friends living in Chicago.”

Karger came out to family and some friends during the summer between high school and college. He found his first true love in 1971, and quickly fell in love, “and knew then that [ being gay ] was OK because he was a wonderful role model and he got me over all of my angst and fear.”

Karger added: “Chicago is a very special place. I feel comfortable in Chicago; it’s where a big part of me was shaped. I’ve had a lot of happy times in Chicago, and also a lot of difficult times struggling with my sexual orientation.”


CBS News: “Fred Karger, Gay Republican, Airs 2012 Presidential Ad”

Nov 23, 2010

cbs news

November 23, 2010 6:07 PM

Fred Karger, Gay Republican, Airs 2012 Presidential Ad

Posted by Stephanie Condon

For link to article, Click Here

Fred Karger, a now-openly gay Republican and former Ronald Reagan aide, is running an ad in Iowa to drum up support for a possible 2012 presidential bid. It’s the first presidential ad to air in Iowa, home of the opening presidential caucuses.

The 90-second ad will air twice a day on Fox News for one week throughout the state, according to the Atlantic.

In the ad, Karger calls himself an “independent Republican” who has supported both Republicans and Democrats and has fought for civil rights.

“I’m concerned that the partisan rancor is only going to continue and get in the way of our country’s progress,” Karger says. “I learned from my mentor Ronald Reagan the importance of getting along.”

He says he is “seriously considering” running for president in 2012 and urges Iowans to donate to his campaign. Karger, who previously aired a one-minute ad in New Hampshire, seeks to raise $5 million, the Atlantic reports.

The retired political consultant has never held elected office and acknowledged at a press conference today that his possible candidacy is “a little presumptuous,” Radio Iowa reports.

Karger said he is researching legal strategies for securing a spot on stage during the early televised primary debates, which he said would represent a “victory.”

He also reportedly acknowledged the uphill battle he faces as a gay Republican.

“As I look at the Republican Party membership here (in Iowa) and I’ve seen polls, you know, 80 percent self-identify evangelical, and I don’t know how open they are initially to an openly gay candidate if I do decide to run,” he said.

Karger said he aimed to emulate groundbreaking political candidates like Shirley Chisholm, the first African-American to run for president, and to make the Republican party more open to gays, Radio Iowa reports.

“I’m a fighter. I’m fighting for millions of people around this country who are members of my community and so many others who are deemed second class citizens,” Karger said. “We will no longer accept that classification.”

Karger will appear on’s daily webshow “Washington Unplugged” next Thursday, Dec. 2. “Washington Unplugged” airs daily on at 12:30 p.m. ET.


Eastern Iowa Government: Possible 2012 Hopeful to Visit Iowa

Nov 19, 2010

E IA Govt logo

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Possible 2012 GOP hopeful to visit Iowa

November 19, 2010, 3:41 pm

By From a Media Release


Fred Karger, a possible 2012 presidential candidate, will visit Iowa Nov. 23 to unveil his first Iowa commercial and announce his exploratory committee’s state director.

karger photo

Fred Karger

His press conference will be at 11 a.m., Nov. 23, 2010 at Embassy Suites on the River, Des Moines.

Karger, long active in Republican Party politics, would be the first openly gay candidate to seek the presidential nomination of a major political party.

If he runs, it would be as an “independent Republican” and would likely be the only true outsider in the field, Karger said.

“I would be an unconventional candidate, and if I run, I will wage an unconventional campaign,” he said. Among his goals would be to redefine the Republican Party.

He plans to discuss issues important to the gay and lesbian community: ending the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, passing the federal Employment Anti-Discrimination Act, eliminating the federal Defense of Marriage Act and make same-sex marriage the law of the land, and make finding a cure for HIV / AIDS and a vaccine to prevent HIV a national priority.

“Our nation is facing many challenges right now,” Karger said earlier this year when he announced his exploratory committee. “We need new and creative leaders to solve them.

“I will work tirelessly to bring back the spirit in every man, woman and child to help remake America the land of opportunity and equality for all,” he said.

Karger is a partner of the Dolphin Group and has managed numerous federal, state and local campaigns.  He ran several successful opposition campaigns, including heavy involvement in three presidential races.


Iowa Politics: Potential 2012 Presidential Candidate to Debut Iowa Commercial, Name Staff

Nov 19, 2010

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Karger exploratory committee: Potential 2012 presidential candidate to debut first Iowa commercial, name staff


MEDIA ADVISORY: November 19, 2010

CONTACT: 515-783-0932

For link, Click Here

(DES MOINES) — Fred Karger, a possible 2012 Presidential candidate, is making another trip to the Hawkeye State to unveil his first Iowa commercial and name his exploratory committee’s state director.

WHAT: Fred Karger Presidential Exploratory Committee Press Conference

WHEN: Tuesday, November 23, 2010

11 AM

WHERE: Embassy Suites on the River

101 E Locust St

Des Moines, Iowa

14 States in 14 Days

Nov 11, 2010

Fred’s Commercials are “In the Can”

IOWA CITY, IA & HANOVER, NH – It was a busy last week in New Hampshire after a similar one in Iowa the week before.  Filmmaker John Keitel was in full production mode as he shot two new commercials for the Fred Karger Presidential Exploratory Committee.  The first spot titled, “Independence Day,” which is an Iowa specific video, was shot throughout eastern and central Iowa the week before.

Then last week Fred, John and crew were all over the Granite State.  We began in and around Dartmouth College in Hanover, and worked our way two hours south and east to end up Friday in Durham, home of the University of New Hampshire.

The New Hampshire spot is called “Frisbee,” (working title), and will be a fun and zany video geared to go viral on YouTube.  It has a science fiction theme and took four days to shoot.

Here are a couple of photos from a wet New Hampshire.  We had to shoot around the rain, but got everything done.


Our Dartmouth College Coordinator, Jon Lohse (left) was there to help John Keitel (right) shoot the video.  The streets were not watered down for the filming, that was done by Mother Nature.


Here I am getting ready for Take 2.


Go Wildcats and Fred Who?!


A Fred Who? T-shirt invasion? Or was it just the end of a fun Fred Frisbee game?  You’ll have to wait to see John’s short viral video when it is released.  Coming to a YouTube channel near you soon!

Thanks to everyone who helped out all week.  Special thanks to John (with camera), Shane Miller (third from left) and Lee Hunter (center with arm in the air).  You were all incredible!

14 States (Plus DC) in 14 Days

Some were by land, some were for connections and some were by train, but I hit CA, CO, IA, IL, NY, CT, NJ, PA, DE, MD, DC, VA, MA, NH, ME on my last trip between October 25th and November 6th.  I was in Washington, DC for election night at the Politico Party at Newseum.  Great event!

Fred in the News

This wonderful story came out last week by Dan Walters, senior political reporter and columnist for the Sacramento Bee.  Dan Walters is the highly respected dean of the California political press corps.


Link to article, CLICK HERE

The latest on California politics and government

By Dan Walters

November 1, 2010


PHOTO CREDIT: Fred Karger at a federal courthouse in January 2010. Bryan Patrick, Sacramento Bee.

Fred Karger labored in California’s political vineyards for years, managing Republicans’ campaigns for office, but made a national name for himself two years ago as a major player in the opposition to Proposition 8, the measure to outlaw same-sex marriage.

Karger, who focused on the Mormon church’s role in Proposition 8’s passage, now is setting his political sights higher by running for president as a gay rights advocate and has made numerous trips to the early 2012 primary and caucus states of New Hampshire and Iowa.

“New Hampshire’s starting to feel like a second home,” Karger says on his presidential campaign website. “I’ve just wrapped up my 8th trip to the Granite State, and it was a whirlwind.”

The Des Moines Register, meanwhile, included Karger in its account of the early presidential hopefuls in that state, which will select convention delegates by caucus.

The Register story can be found here and Karger’s campaign website is here.

Sacramento Bee  Dan Walters’ Column

New Hampshire Insider  Fred in Iowa and NH

Bilerico  FKPEC

LGBT POV  Midterm Elections

Indiana Daily Student  FKPEC

Surf our Web

Be sure to visit our new and constantly improving web site:  Back in California for while to get caught up, get our commercials finished and start the fund-raising in earnest.