The AP took up the story of Paul Babeu, the anti-immigrant sheriff who came out over the weekend after it was revealed that he was having a long-term relationship with an immigrant named Jose and threatened to have Jose deported if he didn't sign an agreement to never reveal the nature of his relationship with the sheriff.
As Brandon noted yesterday, Babeu has stepped down as Romney's campaign co-chair in Arizona, and the AP notes that Babeu may have a difficult time now holding on to the evangelical conservative base he has courted as a rising political star:
He recognizes he is fighting an uphill battle, especially in a state where family values, as defined by a large evangelical Christian and Mormon population, often battle fierce, anti-immigrant beliefs to define conservatism. At a lengthy press conference, Babeu said he hopes voters will stick with him. His competitors think that's unlikely. Arizona Sen. Ron Gould says Babeu is sure to lose major support among the family-values voters who oppose gay marriage. Babeu previously avoided a public stance on gay rights, but came out in favor of them on Saturday.
"There is no question that his budding congressional campaign is over," longtime Arizona Republican political consultant Sean Noble wrote on his blog. "Because it is a Republican primary in a conservative district, it's likely that the thing that hurts him the most is that he was in a gay relationship."
Others aren't sure it's the end, but they said there's no doubt he will be hurt.
"It obviously has implications for a congressional race. There's just no question about it," said Bruce Merrill, an Arizona State University political science professor emeritus and a longtime pollster. "I don't see how any reasonable person cannot think that this is going to hurt him, particularly with the constituency that he has built, which is a very evangelical, right-wing, family oriented conservative constituency."
Senator John McCain, in whose campaign ad supporting a border fence Babeu appeared, is one of the few offering him support:
“Well of course Sheriff Babeu is a friend of mine. I do not know the details except what has been published in the media and I am sure there will be a thorough and complete investigation if there is any allegations of wrongdoing,” McCain said. “All I can say is that he also deserves the benefit, as every citizen does, of innocence until proven guilty.”
Watch, AFTER THE JUMP…
Here's video, edited for length, of Babeu coming out as gay.
Here is Babeu's full press conference:
And here's the McCain border fence ad: