Karen Ocamb Essays 2010-05-15
Remember that slogan “Just Do It!” Well, Southern California political consultant Fred Karger took that to heart and hit the road to explore the possibility of becoming a candidate for the presidential nomination from the Republican Party. His latest missive from the road finds him in Iowa.
If you think this is just play – consider this: the Chicago Tribune’s Jon Margolis did a story on Fred called “The Gayest Republican.”
Here’s the open:
“Ye who doubt that the 2012 presidential campaign has begun, consider this: Fred Karger campaigned in Iowa this week and spent several days in New Hampshire earlier this month.
Ah, he’s anticipated that. Those are the very words on the logo atop his web site.
The answer to that “Fred Who?” question is “Fred Karger,” a 60-year-old Illinois-bred Californian who is the first person to be openly (if, for legal-financial reasons, not yet officially) campaigning for the Republican presidential nomination.
Also the first openly gay candidate to seek the presidential nomination of either major party, ever.
And here’s Fred’s note from Iowa:
Dear Karen –
I’m on day 3 of a 6-day Iowa visit. I started out Sunday night in Iowa City, home of the University of Iowa. Had some meetings Monday with some influential business owners and LGBTQ activists. I showered them with gifts, an American / Rainbow flag lapel pin and a Fred Who? – New Hampshire license plate T-shirt.
Then off to Des Moines, Monday night to meet up with campaign aide, Kevin Miniter. Caught the tail end of One Iowa’s First Annual Business Symposium. One Iowa is led by the smart and glamorous Executive Director, Carolyn Jenison. They put on a stellar daylong event that brought together major corporations and over 100 LGBTQ attendees from all over Iowa.
Then two days in the capital of meetings with political reporters, LGBTQ leaders, and politicos. In spite of severe weather all day that included pea to penny size hail, about 20 people braved the elements and attended this historic event. The reception was held at the trendy, year old Dos Rios Restaurant downtown. The margaritas and guacamole flowed.
I was able to spend a lot of time talking to everyone there. I got to hear what was on their minds: immigration, education, health care and even marijuana legalization. The economy isn’t quite as bad in Iowa as in many other parts of the country. Unemployment hovers at 7.4%, still way too high. It has nearly doubled in just the last two years from 3.8%. In California, where I live, it’s 13%!
It was quite a night.
Iowa is a very exciting place to be. It is so rich in all its wonderful history. I love all the stories about Presidential campaigns past. It’s fun to go to restaurants and bars and hear who had come in over the years and even where they sat.
Iowa is retail politics at its best.
One interesting note – I have met many men my age and younger (I’m 60) who were married and came out later in life, divorced and now out to their teenage and older children. Lots of gay and lesbian Iowans move to Des Moines from all over the state. There is a thriving LGBTQ community here. Lots of prominent gays and lesbians in business, politics, etc.
Iowa City has 3rd largest per capita LGBT population in the country. Real college town – U of Iowa. It’s sometimes referred to as “People’s Republic”….Poll yesterday (early results) in Des Moines Register for possible Republican candidate for president had ‘other’ winning with 20%, Romney was next with 11%.
Lots of dissatisfaction with government. Have not come across any real Tea Partiers yet, but there is definitely a growing unhappiness with all levels of government.
The economy is more stable here. Agriculture #1 industry in Iowa, not nearly as affected. Des Moines second to Hartford, CT as home to insurance companies (who are very supportive of LGBT organizations), also pretty recession proof. Marriage equality has settled in after a year with the public here, but is being used as a wedge issue in many state house elections this year.
Iowa primary is also June 8th and anti-incumbency is big here. Immigration issue is very passionate on both sides. I get an ear full. And younger people want to legalize and tax marijuana. Keep the money here, not give it to drug cartels. Just some observations.