Republican Rep. Maureen Walsh Gets Some Gay Reelection Help
You must remember Maureen Walsh. She's the Republican legislator from Walla Walla, Washington, who delivered a break-your-heart-into-a-gazillion-pieces endorsement of marriage equality on the the floor of the state capital last February. (If you don't remember or didn't see Ms. Walsh's speech, please check it out AFTER THE JUMP.)
Well -- while it's always risky for Republican politicians to endorse marriage equality, and while Ms. Walsh's break from party orthodoxy has earned her a primary challenger, she seems pretty well-positioned for reelection. And it's because of the gays. From the Seattle Times:
With the general election still months away, records from the Public Disclosure Commission show that more than 60 percent of Walsh's individual contributions have come from out-of-state backers, amounting to just over $5,000. It is a small amount compared to the money she has received from political groups, but it is coming in at a faster pace than previous elections.
In 2008, before Walsh became a known champion of gay rights, she raised just $3,800 from individual contributors. Almost none of them were from outside Washington.
Among the contributors to Ms. Walsh's reelection campaign: Gay philanthropists Mel Heifetz and Weston Milliken and east-coast lesbian activist Urvashi Vaid.
Ms. Walsh's opponent is a teacher and former marine named Mary Ruth Edwards, who says she was inspired to run because of her staunch opposition to marriage equality. She's raised $804 for her campaign so far, though the Seattle Times notes that she could get much richer should the National Organization for Marriage fulfill its promise to drop a quarter million dollars into the campaign coffers of primary challengers bent on ousting pro-equality Republicans. Until that money materializes, Ms. Edwards may unhypocritcally criticize Ms. Walsh for accepting out-of-state financial contributions, and does. But Ms. Walsh is unfazed. From the Seattle Times:
Walsh acknowledged that taking money from "out-of-towners" may turn off some, but added that she was happy people had been moved by her story.
Soon after her emotional vote, Walsh received a phone call from a gay teenager from the Midwest who had just come out of the closet and was contemplating suicide. He had seen her video and decided not to harm himself.
"Win or lose, my next campaign — and I certainly want to win — but when you hear things like that, you think, 'My work is done.' "