Friday, October 26, 2007



I went to James Madison High School in Brooklyn. We had two future U.S. Senators and a future Supreme Court Justice... and a bunch of future record business presidents. But only one person who was "out." It wasn't me; it was an incredibly brave thing to do back then. Julius was not only out, he was one of the only African-American males in an almost all-white school. Wow, was he brave! And did he get gay-bashed! But not by Chuck Schumer, at least not as far as I can recall. Schumer was the valedictorian in 1967 and went to Harvard and then Harvard Law. Since then, Chuck grew up to be my old district's Assemblyman and then the congressman and now the moderate U.S. senator... and the head of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, where he has the reputation of being effective and ruthless, something like a slightly more sophisticated version of Rahm Emanuel. He's a moderate on gay issues-- supports including gays in hate crime legislation and is ok with civil unions but opposes gay marriage.

Yesterday you may have read at Swing State Project or BlueNC that Schumer is trying to recruit someone to run against Jim Neal, a moderate to progressive, grassroots Democrat. After Rep. Brad Miller announced he wasn't going to run against Elizabeth Dole, Schumer's dream candidate was Grier Martin. He helped push State Senator Kay Hagan of Greensboro out of the way for Martin. But when Martin announced he wasn't going to run, Jim Neal announced he was in. Recall that on Sunday we discussed Neal's candidacy from the perspective of him being an out gay man. Apparently, the DSCC has been doing the same thing-- except coming to a different conclusion.

The rumors I'm hearing-- persistent, loud, widespread, unsubstantiated, off-the-record-- are that Schumer blew his stack when he heard about Neal running and has declared-- in his pompous, know-it-all way that high school valedictorians always do-- that an openly gay candidate cannot win in North Carolina. Well, a gay will never win in North Carolina if his own party doesn't back him; that's for sure. I called Jim Neal this morning to ask him about the rumors. He wanted to talk about his vision for North Carolina, not about the DSCC. I don't know him yet but he seems to pride himself on being a non-politician and a non-insider. "I don't owe anything to anyone but the people of North Carolina," he told me. He wouldn't comment on the rumors about Schumer. "As for the DSCC, we can’t control them nor can we focus upon them. We’ve had no direct contact with Senator Schumer. We’re focused on fundraising and building our campaign organization."

I asked him if he thought Schumer would be more enthusiastic about his candidacy if he was in the closet. Most insider politicians always seem cool with gays who stay in the closet. He talked a little about what an admirable record Schumer has had on civil rights issues-- Schumer did vote against the right-wing proposal to ban gay marriage with a Constitutional Amendment-- but he said wouldn't speculate. "I can't really answer that. I’d certainly hope that’s not the case."

But before Schumer makes gay people think HRC was correct after all when they endorsed Alfonse D'Amato for Senate instead of him, he should take a look at the most recent polling on the North Carolina race. In head to head match-ups, the only Democrat shown beating Dole is Governor Easley (who isn't running)-- and it's close. The rest of the potential Democratic field, including Neal, does around the same against her. His numbers are identical with North Carolina Democratic Party Chair, Jerry Meek. The poll was conducted after Neal had publicly acknowledged that he is gay.

I liked the way Jim Neal discussed the S-CHIP debate. He said if Elizabeth Dole couldn't support tax-funded health care for needy children she should consider giving up her own (far more lavish) tax-funded health care. Schumer needs more plainspoken men and women like Jim Neal running for the U.S. Senate. If you'd like to learn more about Jim or if you'd like to volunteer for his race or contribute to his campaign, please surf right over to his website.


Lucas just found this at Salon and he insists I include it (you can click on it to enlarge it):

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At 7:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

chuck schumer or shmuck shumer? you decide. my mind is already made up.


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