Carl DeMaio is a Republican candidate for the House of Representatives in San Diego, running against one-term incumbent Scott Peters.
1. He Supports Gay Marriage, Abortion Rights, and Environmental Protection
Carl DeMaio is a registered Republican, and has recently received a huge fundraising boost from John Boehner’s support of his campaign.
His campaign website lists his commitments to job creation, budget reform, and other economic issues, and he is remembered for his push for pension reform that cut the pensions of many city employees.
However, he describes himself as a ‘new generation’ Republican in campaign materials, and lists his commitment to marriage equality, a woman’s right to choose, and strong environmental protection initiatives under ‘Issues’ on his campaign site.
2. He Has a Complex Relationship With LBGT Groups
DeMaio’s candidacy in the 2012 mayoral race against Rep. Bob Filner quickly turned negative when a PAC (Conservatives for Gay Rights Supporting Carl DeMaio for Mayor 2012) was formed to defeat DeMaio on the basis of his sexuality. The group made robocalls and distributed literature that featured a photoshopped image of DeMaio standing near a man dressed in drag. According to the Daily Beast, they were allegedly sent to members of the African American community.
Despite attacks like these, DeMaio has often courted controversy with LGBT groups, who dislike his links to donors who supported Prop 8. He was booed at the San Diego Pride parade in 2012. DeMaio has said in an interview with Fox News’ Dana Perino that
“I’ve found more tolerance, acceptance and inclusion from social conservative groups who have to reconcile that I’m a Republican who happens to be gay…versus the intolerance the LGBT leaders see me as a gay man who happens to be a Republican.”
3. He Lost His Parents at 14
DeMaio was born in Dubuque, Iowa, in 1974, to a pair of teachers, Carl Joseph DeMaio and Diane M. DeMaio (née Elgin). When he was a young child, the family moved to Orange County, California, where he lived until he got a scholarship to Georgetown Preparatory School in 1989.
His mother died of breast cancer the following year, and his father, who was reportedly abusive, abandoned the family.
He went on to study International Politics at Georgetown University, and graduated in three years while also working at the Congressional Institute, a nonprofit organization that holds annual retreats for Republican members of Congress. He stayed on after graduating before then establishing the Performance Institute, a think tank dedicated to government reform.
4. His Boyfriend, Johnathan Hale, Has Been Involved in His Campaigns, And Has an Ambiguous Past
DeMaio has been openly in a relationship with his boyfriend Johnathan Hale, for most of his political career. Hale is CEO of Hale Media, Inc., and is the publisher of a number of local San Diego websites, including San Diego Gay & Lesbian News, SanDiegoPride.com, the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News Network, and SDPix.com.
As DeMaio’s partner, Hale featured in a campaign ad released in February (a first for a candidate from either party), showing the couple holding hands and attending the San Diego LGBT Pride Parade.
In 2012, during DeMaio’s mayoral campaign, the San Diego LGBT Weekly reported that Hale had run-ins with the law while going by a different name. Under the names John Theodore Wyckoff Jr. and Johnathan T. Hackett Jr., Hale has a conviction for felony burglary in Arkansas and both restraining orders and complaints of domestic violence and harassment filed against him by former rommmates.
The publication also raised the questions of Hale’s having access to secure documents, and the level of involvement he would be afforded in DeMaio’s duties as mayor.
5. DeMaio Has Been Accused of Sexual Harassment
In the run-up to the election, DeMaio has been hit by allegations of sexual harassment from former staffers.
CNN reported on October 10 that DeMaio’s former campaign policy director is accusing the candidate of sexual harassment, saying DeMaio masturbated in front of him.
Todd Bosnich, also an openly gay Republican, has accused the candidate of repeated inappropriate touching and sexual harassment. He also accused campaign manager Tommy Knepper of making light of the behavior and blaming Bosnich for the incidents. He confronted DeMaio, telling him to either stop the harassment or drop out of the race, and was apparently then asked to leave the campaign.
DeMaio hit back, saying to CNN,
“This is an individual that was let go by our campaign manager for plagiarism (…) He admitted that he plagiarized. He apologized for plagiarizing and when we told him he was no longer welcome in the staff and in the campaign office, even as a volunteer, he left. Days later, he broke in.”
DeMaio went on to say that Bosnich was under investigation by the San Diego Police Department.
“I was at the urinal, and (DeMaio) came from the stall that was closest to the urinal and was kind of just standing there hovering. I turned around and realized that it was Carl. He had his pants up, but his fly was undone, and he had his hand over, not over, grasping his genitals.”