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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, May 13, 2011 - Volume 39 Issue 19
WA state Republicans love pizza, hate Gays
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WA state Republicans love pizza, hate Gays

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

A presidential straw poll taken at a Washington state GOP fundraising dinner on May 6 shows Republicans leaning to former pizza executive Herman Cain.

Cain got 54 votes at the Republican event, or 15.13% of the attendees.

His nearest competitors were former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney with 52 votes (14.57%) of those attending, and Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels with 51 votes (14.29%).

For those not familiar with Republican presidential hopefuls, Cain is the former CEO of Godfather's Pizza, former CEO of the National Restaurant Association, member of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, and a radio talk show host.

Cain is also a friend of the anti-Gay Family Research Council, a group now listed as a 'hate group' by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The FRC was founded by arch-homophobe James Dodson in 1981, and is currently led by Tony Perkins.

Cain includes them on his list of 'Intelligent Thinkers Allies.'

Cain currently has only an exploratory committee, meaning he is actively planning for a run and will probably jump into the race officially if he finds financial backers.

Romney, a retread from the 2008 GOP race, has shifted far to the right since his days as governor of Massachusetts.

In 1994, running for U.S. Senate against incumbent Ted Kennedy, Romney told the Log Cabin Republicans he would be a better advocate for LGBT rights than Kennedy.

Lately he has re-branded himself as a supporter of state constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage. He also opposed repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell.'

Daniels made headlines last year when he called for a 'truce' in the culture wars, saying that Republicans should campaign on fiscal issues, not abortion or Gay rights.

Nevertheless, he has also made clear that as a self-identified Christian, he is opposed to reproductive choice and marriage equality. Cain, Romney, and Daniels ended up within a few votes of each other in the straw poll. After that, there is a steep drop-off in support for the next tier of candidates - New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (39 votes), former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty (28), and Ohio Congressman Paul 'Medicare Vouchers' Ryan (22).

After Ryan, there is another drop-off in support for 'The Rest,' including many of the biggest names in the field - Newt Gingrich (14 votes), Mike Huckabee (14), Rudy Giuliani (12), Ron Paul, and Donald Trump (10 votes each).

Among potential women candidates, Michele Bachmann (9 votes) led Sarah Palin (8), although neither was very popular among Republican stalwarts.

State Republican chair Kirby Wilbur said the results show that it is too early to call the race for his party's presidential nomination.

'The close results demonstrate that the Republican Party does not have a clear frontrunner. Herman Cain has been doing an excellent job getting his name out among Republican voters and his style appeals to many people,' Wilbur said. 'As the process moves forward and more individuals enter the race, it will be interesting to see how the perception of the various candidates changes.'

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