A Gay Candidate Shows His Partner, in an Ad, for a Split Second. It's Rarer Than You Think.

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Feb. 13 2014 6:02 PM

A Gay Candidate Shows His Partner, in an Ad, for a Split Second. It's Rarer Than You Think.

Last night, strategists working for California congressional candidate Carl DeMaio started flogging a hot story. DeMaio, who'd be the first openly gay Republican sent to the Hill,* was releasing a web ad in which he appeared alongside his partner -- another first. The Wall Street Journal got the preview:

The clips are brief: A shot of Mr. DeMaio holding hands with his partner, Johnathan Hale, as they march in a gay pride parade in 2012, followed by a clip of the San Diego candidate waving a rainbow flag that has come to symbolize the gay-rights movement.
Several GOP campaign officials and Elizabeth Wilner, who tracks campaign ads for the nonpartisan firm Kantar Media, said it was the first time they knew of a candidate of either party airing an ad featuring a same-sex partner.
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Here's the shot:

Yeah, DeMaio's partner is about as visible as a sunspot during an eclipse. But the WSJ seems to be right. Scanning the ads for gay Democrats in Congress, people like New York's Sean Maloney, California's Mark Takano, Wisconsin's Mark Pocan, and Colorado's Jared Polis, I don't see any shots with partners. Sean Eldridge, the husband (quite famously) of Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes, mentions that he is "starting a family" in his district, but never shows Hughes. So: Carl DeMaio with the historic first? (Nice consolation prize, given that he lost the 2012 San Diego mayoral race to Bob Filner.)

*I changed the wording as other Republicans, like Arizona's Jim Kolbe, have been elected, come out, then been re-elected.

David Weigel, a former Slate politics reporter, is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

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