Karger Tests Presidential Waters

Gay Activist Tests the Presidential Waters

By Jennifer Erickson
Laguna Beach resident and gay activist Fred Karger is “seriously considering becoming a candidate for president of the United States in 2012 as an independent Republican,” he announced in New Orleans last week. 
 If he becomes a candidate, Karger would be the first openly gay candidate for president of either political party.

The announcement was made from the Southern Republican Leadership Conference taking place at the Hilton New Orleans Riverside. The SRLC is the most prominent Republican event outside of a Republican National Convention. It is held every two to four years and brings the top Republican activists, donors, candidates and elected officials together for training, briefings, receptions and speeches from party leaders.

As a former political consultant, Karger worked as a senior campaign aide on three presidential campaigns and has been involved in six other presidential campaigns. Through his former firm, the Dolphin Group, he managed campaigns for Republican congressional candidates as well as ballot propositions and state and local races in several states.

After nearly four decades of behind-the-scenes consulting, Karger retired in 2004 to Laguna Beach. He first catapulted into the public eye locally in 2006 with his campaign to Save the Boom, the gay nightclub that closed in September 2007. Then, in July 2008, he started Californians Against Hate to follow the money in California’s Proposition 8 campaign, to ban gay marriage, gaining prominence by leading boycotts of four of the major donors to the Yes on 8 campaign. He also filed formal complaints with state election commissions in California and Maine, which prompted ongoing investigations of the Mormon Church and the National Organization for Marriage by authorities.

Karger made his announcement April 10 and held a party that night in a Hilton Riverside suite. He told Karen Ocamb of the LGBT POV that he was “surprisingly well received” at the event. “It’s the 14 Southern states, and it was funny when all these people came up to my party last night,” he said. “They would ask about me – so I told them my background and then told them that I would be the first ‘openly gay candidate.’ That’s when it would get a little sticky. All were polite, but some would take their drinks and leave soon thereafter.”