Boston Globe: A Change in Political Seasons

Jan 30, 2011

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A change in political seasons

January 30, 2011

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By Jan. 30, 2007, 11 Republicans had made formal moves — announcing exploratory committees or full-fledged candidacies — to run for president the following year. Four years later, only two notable candidates — talk-show host and businessman Herman Cain, and California political consultant Fred Karger — have made similar announcements.


March 9, 2006: John Cox, businessman, announced his candidacy. His campaign ended in late 2007.

Oct. 30, 2006: Duncan Hunter, California congressman, announced he was forming exploratory committee. He announced his candidacy on Jan. 25, 2007, and dropped out on Jan 19, 2008.

Nov. 20, 2006: Rudy Giuliani, former New York City mayor, filed paperwork for exploratory committee. He announced candidacy on Feb. 5, 2007, and dropped out on Jan. 30, 2008.

Nov. 16, 2006: John McCain, senator from Arizona, filed to establish exploratory committee. He announced his candidacy on April 25, 2007.

Dec. 4, 2006: Sam Brownback, senator from Kansas, filed to establish exploratory committee. He launched his bid on Jan. 20, 2007, and dropped out Oct. 19, 2007.

Dec. 13, 2006: Tommy Thompson, former Wisconsin governor, filed to establish exploratory committee. He announced his candidacy on April 4 and dropped out on Aug. 12, 2007.

Jan. 3, 2007: Mitt Romney, former Massachusetts governor, filed to establish exploratory committee. He announced his candidacy on Feb. 13, 2007, and dropped out on Feb. 7, 2008.

Jan. 9, 2007: Jim Gilmore, former Virginia governor, filed to establish exploratory committee. He announced his candidacy on April 26 and dropped out on July 14, 2007.

Jan. 11, 2007: Ron Paul, congressman from Texas, filed to establish an exploratory committee. He announced his candidacy on March 12, 2007, and dropped out on March 6, 2008.

Jan. 16, 2007: Tom Tancredo, former Colorado congressman, announced that he would form an exploratory committee later that week. He announced his candidacy on April 2 and dropped out on Dec. 20, 2007.

Jan. 28, 2007: Mike Huckabee, former Arkansas governor, announced he would file to form an exploratory committee the next day. He dropped out on March 4, 2008.

June 2007: Fred Thompson, former US senator from Tennessee, formed a “testing the waters’’ committee. He declared he was running on Sept. 5. 2007. He dropped out on Jan. 22, 2008.

Fred Karger: A California-based political consultant and gay rights activist. Karger, who would be the first openly gay presidential candidate of either party, formed an exploratory committee on July 18.

Herman Cain: Former chief executive of Godfather’s Pizza, former chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, and host of Atlanta-based radio show. Cain, who has strong Tea Party support, announced on Jan. 12 he would form an exploratory committee.

Tim Pawlenty: Former Minnesota governor has been traveling widely to promote his book and explore a presidential run. He has pitched himself as a blue collar, “Sam’s Club Republican,’’ and said he will make a decision in March or April.

Mitt Romney: Former Massachusetts governor and former Bain executive has been seen as the establishment candidate, particularly for a party that tends to reward faithful stalwarts who lose in the previous nominating contest. Romney spent much of last year raising money and endorsing candidates in the midterm elections. He is not expected to announce until the spring.

John Thune: The South Dakota senator won his seat in an upset win in 2004 over incumbent Tom Daschle, the former majority leader. He is seen as a rising star — a Republican version of Barack Obama — and has been urged to run by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. Thune says he will make a decision soon.

Newt Gingrich: The former 10-term Georgia congressman and House speaker led the Republican takeover of the House in the mid-1990s. But following GOP loses in 1998, he resigned from both the speakership and his congressional seat. He toyed with running for president in 2008 but opted out. He said he would announce his intentions by the end of March.

Mike Huckabee: The former Arkansas governor surprisingly won the Iowa caucuses in 2008. As an ordained Southern Baptist minister, he won appeal from evangelical Christians, and his strong showing made it difficult for Romney to go head-to-head with Senator John McCain. Now host of a Fox News show, he said he would not make an official announcement until “the latter part of the summer, if at all.’’

Sarah Palin: The former vice presidential nominee has done little to stay out of the spotlight since the 2008 campaign. After resigning as Alaska governor, she has been a frequent presence in the media, commenting on national events and filming a reality TV show about life in Alaska. She has said she is considering a presidential run but has not given any sense of timing.

Michele Bachmann: The Minnesotan is starting just her third term in Congress but has created a national profile through television appearances, controversial statements, and prodigious fund-raising. A founder of the House Tea Party Caucus, she has been seen as a thorn in the side of House Republicans leaders, most recently for giving a televised response to the president’s State of the Union address that competed with the official GOP response. She visited Iowa earlier this month.

Jon Huntsman: The former governor of Utah was appointed ambassador to China by President Obama, in what some viewed as a canny move to eliminate a potential political rival. Huntsman — who, like Romney, is Mormon and wealthy — recently purchased a home in Washington and has not tamped down speculation he would run for president.

Haley Barbour: The governor of Mississippi is a former chairman of the Republican National Committee who most recently ran the Republican Governors Association — and was hailed for his ability to raise money and capture corner offices. He said he wouldn’t announce any plans until after the legislative session wraps up in April.

Mitch Daniels: The Indiana governor, a former top official at Eli Lilly and Co., was budget director under George W. Bush (who gave him the nickname “The Blade’’ for his cost-cutting proclivities). He said he would not announce his plans until the legislative session wraps up in late April.

Rick Santorum: The former two-term congressman from Pennsylvania won a US Senate seat in 1994, where he rose to number 3 GOP leadership position but was handily defeated in his 2006 reelection bid. A social and fiscal conservative, he has been among the most active in traveling and hiring staff in early primary states, including New Hampshire. He said in an interview there was “zero chance’’ of him announcing anything before April.

Jim DeMint: The senator from South Carolina has antagonized establishment Republicans by endorsing numerous Tea Party-backed candidates during GOP primaries. He has denied that he will run for president but stirred speculation by announcing a trip to Iowa in March for a conservative forum.

Ron Paul: The Texan is entering his 11th term in Congress. He has twice run for president — in 1988 as the Libertarian nominee and again in 2008 for the Republican nomination — and attracted a devoted following. He consistently performs well in straw polls of the party faithful, including the Conservative Political Action Conference poll last year. His son, Rand, just won a US Senate seat in Kentucky. He has said he would consider another presidential campaign, but he has also said he’s mulling a US Senate bid in Texas.

Rudy Giuliani: Served two terms as mayor of New York, including during the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. He sought the Republican nomination in 2008, but performed poorly in the early caucus and primary states. He said this month that he would consider another run for president.

SOURCES: Democracy in Action; candidate announcements and websites; news reports

Riviera: Look Who’s Talking: Fred Karger

Jan 3, 2011

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Look Who’s Talking: Fred Karger

By Kedric Francis | Photography by Greg Powers | Riviera magazine | January 3, 2011

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MR. KARGER GOES TO WASHINGTON: At the Lincoln Memorial with the Washington Monument in the background, O.C.’s own Fred Karger passes the “looking presidential” test.

Laguna Beach Republican political consultant and gay activist Fred Karger’s presidential run is for real

Fred who? That’s exactly what Republicans may ask after they get a load of Fred Karger, who (when he formally announces) will be the party’s—and the nation’s—first openly gay presidential candidate. “I want to bring back the civility, optimism and humor that Reagan had,” Karger says. The Laguna Beach resident is busy blanketing the early battleground states of New Hampshire and Iowa, among some 20 states he’s visited since embarking on his seemingly quixotic quest last spring.

Karger, 60, spent his career as a high-level political campaign consultant, advising the likes of Bob Dole and former California Governor George Deukmejian before retiring to his home in Laguna. But the contentious closing of the Boom Boom Room, O.C.’s historic gay bar, riled Karger’s activist anger; he spearheaded a failed campaign to save the local landmark. He also founded Californians Against Hate as part of the battle over Prop. 8, the 2008 ballot measure that outlawed same-sex marriage, initiating crippling boycotts (“we showed the power of the gay dollar”) and watchdogging the LDS Church over pro-Prop. 8 contributions.

So is the GOP ready for a gay presidential candidate? “There are plenty of progressive Republicans who have been discouraged by the anti-gay vitriol out there these days,” he says. Karger’s initial goal is to get in the debates, starting at the Reagan Library in May. “If I can do that I will have accomplished a great deal.”

“I had a tough time growing up gay,” he says. “I want to make it easier on others, to send a strong message that it’s OK. This is America. You can do anything you dream of doing.”

Karger’s Hots

Victoria Beach; the Boom Boom Room;; Montage Resort; O.C. political pioneer Bob Gentry; sunset at the Rooftop; Laguna’s Garden of Peace and Love; my Vespa

Karger’s Nots

Hate going unopposed; a big wave when I’m launching my kayak at the beach; litter; the sad shell of a building formerly known as the Boom Boom Room; loud Harleys on PCH


The Daily Caller: Gay Republican and Possible 2012 Presidential Candidate Fred Karger Talks to The DC

Jan 3, 2011

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Gay Republican and possible 2012 presidential candidate Fred Karger talks to the DC

By Amanda Carey – The Daily Caller | Published: 12:42 AM 12/31/2010 | Updated: 9:31 AM 12/31/2010

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“I don’t know about the next election, but I think in the near future,” said former President Jimmy Carter recently when asked about the possibility of America electing a gay president. Carter argued that because the country voted for an African-American president two years ago before coming close to nominating the first woman candidate, the country could be open to a gay one.

Carter may be on to something because in 2012, America might just have its first serious openly-gay candidate for president. And he’s a Republican.

Meet Fred Karger, a California-based political consultant and activist who lists Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Gerald Ford among his clients.

Now for the first time, Karger is the candidate. “I’ve never run for office before,” he told The Daily Caller. “Not for student council or anything.” Still, Karger seems to know what he’s doing. Last April he announced plans for a presidential exploratory committee, and in recent months, he’s been traveling tirelessly all across the country, with extended stays in Iowa and New Hampshire.

Born and raised in a suburb of Chicago, Ill., called Glencoe (a town made famous by Tom Cruise and the movie “Risky Business”), Karger described his childhood as being a “carbon copy” of the television show “Leave it to Beaver.”

“That was me,” he told TheDC. “All the way down to the identical refrigerator, the two-story house, the stay-at-home mom, the dad who worked and the cool older brother.” Unlike the show’s namesake, however, Karger’s interest in politics began at the young age of 14 when he volunteered to work on statewide campaigns.

That is where, according to Karger, he thrived. After “figuring out the gay thing pretty young,” Karger had a hard time fitting in anywhere else besides a campaign’s headquarters. A career in politics followed, interrupted only by a brief career as an actor in Hollywood in the mid-1970s.

More recently, Karger stepped into California’s Prop 8 battle over the legalization of gay marriage. He led a charge against the Mormon Church’s involvement, uncovering the extent to which the church financially supported the Prop 8 campaign. As a result, the church had to pay a$5,000 fine.

Now that the 2012 presidential election season is within sights, Karger is doing everything any candidate would. There are only two problems, one of which is summed up best by his campaign slogan of “Fred Who?”; the other being that he is running on an issue most Republicans either shy away from or openly oppose.

Karger swears by his solid Republican credentials, telling TheDC that his “DNA is Republican,” although just a “little more moderate.” The moderate part probably explains why, in 2008, he maxed out his legal campaign contributions to Hillary Clinton’s campaign, and why he voted for Ralph Nader in the general election.

“I just thought she [Clinton] would be good — a good fit. And, the Republican Party had just gone so far right that I wasn’t happy with the candidates then,” said Karger.

Aside from his gay rights’ platform, that is is likely what Karger hopes will set him apart from his likely challengers in 2012. In a year when most Republicans will be running to the right and denouncing big government, big taxes and the Obama agenda, Karger plans to plant himself firmly in the middle, supporting the legalization of medical marijuana and sensible gun control regulations. He’s even taken up the label “Independent Republican.”

“I am an independent individual,” Karger said. “I’ve supported Republicans and Democrats. My positions are more independent from the party, but I want to get a message to those voters in New Hampshire and Iowa who are independent — registered independent — that I think we’re similar.”

“This is a new term,” he added. “Scott Brown did it a little bit in Massachusetts this year, but I want to take that title because I think it fits me perfectly.”

Karger told TheDC that he considers it a badge of honor and “a good thing” that some of the members of the Republican National Committee in Iowa attacked him during a recent visit.

“The public is so unhappy with all of this partisanship — bickering is too mild of a word for it — and they’re looking for a Ronald Reagan type who can bring people together. He used to have Tip O’Neil over to the White House …Obama didn’t invite Mitch McConnell over for one-on-one until 18 months into his presidency,” said Karger.

It’s clear the self-identified “frustrated issue candidate” thinks he can follow in Reagan’s footsteps, but it’s also clear he knows he has a lot of convincing to do in order to win Republican and Independent support.

So when will he officially announce a presidential bid? Karger wouldn’t give an exact date, but if he is planning to participate in any of the presidential debates it will have to be within the next few months. The first debate is scheduled for early May at the Reagan Library.

The American people may or may not be ready for a gay president, but they may not have a choice when it comes to having a gay candidate. That said, Karger’s mere presence in the 2012 Republican arena means the issue of gay rights isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.