There's another potential candidate who has formed his own presidential exploratory committee, who has visited Iowa five times, and who has even filmed a television commercial introducing himself to voters. That would be Fred Karger, the openly gay Republican political operative creating quite the splash by dabbling into presidential politics.
Karger may not have the profile of Gingrich or Huckabee, or the financial war chest of Palin or Paul, but he's very much a serious and legitimate candidate. Yet, despite Karger's bonafides, the Iowa Christian Alliance has refused to invite him to a planned March 2011 candidate's forum in Waukee, Iowa. And the reason? They don't acknowledge gay Republicans, or believe there's space within the Republican Party for those who identify as LGBT.
“We're inviting all potential candidates who are legitimate candidates,” said Iowa Christian Alliance President Steve Scheffler. "[Karger] is not a legitimate candidate."
So five visits to Iowa, a pretty slick exploratory committee web site, a television commercial, and meeting hundreds upon hundreds of Iowa voters doesn't make one a legitimate candidate? What the heck is Scheffler's definition of legitimate then?
Scheffler did invite the usual suspects in GOP circles. In addition to Palin, Paul, Pawlenty, Santorum, Barbour, Huckabee and Gingrich, politicians like Indiana Rep. Mike Pence, South Dakota Sen. John Thune, and Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels all received invitations. And this isn't a debate, per se, but rather just a forum for all potential candidates to introduce themselves to voters one at a time, and give Iowa Republicans a chance to see who might be on the ballot in early 2012.
But why not extend an invitation to Karger? Clearly he's an engaged potential candidate, with a unique niche in Republican circles. Heck, Karger has shown more initiative than half the politicians on the invite list, visiting Iowa more times and beating many of these candidates to the television airwaves. Legitimate? Karger's got that wrapped up in the bag.
The real issue here is the message that the Iowa Christian Alliance wants to send. Are they afraid of Karger's candidacy? Is it verboten in the minds of the Iowa Christian Alliance to have a member of the GOP support various planks for LGBT equality?
Simply put, this is a candidate's forum. Shouldn't Karger at least be given a chance to take the stage, so that potential voters can be the ones to decide whether or not he's a legitimate candidate?
Let the Iowa Christian Alliance know that they've got nothing to fear by inviting Karger to the event, and that they owe it to Iowa voters to make sure that all candidates exploring a run get invited.
petition text -
Dear Mr. Scheffler,
I am deeply disappointed to read that the Iowa Christian Alliance has refused to invite potential presidential candidate Fred Karger to a planned March 2011 candidate forum in Waukee, Iowa. According to the Des Moines Register, you said that Karger can't be considered a legitimate candidate.
That simply isn't true. Karger has visited Iowa five times, has released a television commercial introducing himself to voters, has an official exploratory committee, and has met hundreds upon hundreds of Iowa voters. He is engaged in this campaign much more than some of the names on your invite list.
It sounds to me that the Iowa Christian Alliance either doesn't want to acknowledge Karger because he's a gay republican, or you're afraid of his candidacy. But shouldn't Iowa voters be the ones who decide whether or not Karger is a serious candidate?
I urge you to reconsider your decision to bar Karger from this event, and offer Karger an invite. If you think he's the wrong Republican for the job, you should have the courage to confront him in a candidate forum, and allow Iowa voters to make up their own minds.
Thank you for your time.
[Your name here]