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CA-52 2014 Tag

Sexual harassment allegations levied against Republican Carl DeMaio by an ex-campaign staffer derailed the GOP rising star's otherwise successful campaign. DeMaio's upsetting loss last November was arguably attributed to these tenacious claims, but now it turns out the allegations were all false. As a staunch fiscal conservative with a track record on the San Diego City Council to prove it, and as the first openly gay man to run for Congress as a Republican, DeMaio certainly made heads turn and headlines across the country.  He made efforts to reach out to traditionally non-Republican communities a central strategy of his campaign in a congressional district, California's 52nd, that is split evenly between Republicans and Democrats. Both Tea Party and Establishment wings of the Republican Party took a liking to DeMaio and pumped money and good press his way, with a lot of talk surrounding his "New Generation Republican." His opponent, freshman Democrat incumbent Scott Peters, meanwhile, was just another textbook liberal awash in the sea of citizens fed up with the Democrat agenda. But then came the October Surprise: DeMaio was accused by ex-campaign staffer Todd Bosnich of unwelcome sexual advances in and outside of the office, and similar claims cropped up from his time on the San Diego City Council. Bosnich also claimed that he was threatened by the DeMaio campaign to remain mum about the sexual misconduct, lest he ever wanted to work in politics again.

California's 52nd district will keep its current representative in Congress for the next two years, as Republican Carl DeMaio failed to oust incumbent Democrat Scott Peters last Tuesday. The election results were not finalized until 72 hours after voting booths closed, and the final tally came down to 51.25% for Peters and 48.75% for DeMaio, with about 4,400 votes making the difference. Before all absentee ballots were counted, the election was called as a Republican victory, with some news outlets prematurely posting articles about DeMaio being the first openly gay Republican to run and win a congressional race. Alas, Peters did win, much to the dismay of many Republicans who admired DeMaio's potential as a "New Generation Republican." The DeMaio campaign was hit with a nasty October surprise in the form of sexual harassment allegations from former campaign staffer Todd Bosnich, who is also openly gay. This was followed by the re-emergence of similar claims from DeMaio's time on the San Diego City Council. DeMaio contended that Bosnich, fired for plagiarism, was merely seeking to exact revenge, and that he was responsible for the May break-in of the DeMaio campaign headquarters days before the primaries.  DeMaio further alleged that Bosnich was responsible for passing on internal campaign documents to the Peters campaign. The Peters campaign handed over the documents to the police, saying they received them anonymously.

Earlier this month I reported on how Republican Carl DeMaio edged out incumbent Democrat Scott Peters in a district that is rated as a toss-up by most polling agencies. A week after their win, the DeMaio campaign was hit with a serious October surprise when the campaign's former policy director, Todd Bosnich, claimed DeMaio sexually harassed him on numerous occasions. Both Bosnich and DeMaio are openly gay, and DeMaio has fiercely denied all allegations of sexual misconduct. The timing of Bosnich's allegations, first made in a CNN interview, are questionable, considering that he was fired by DeMaio in May but waited three weeks before the election to make the allegations. Furthermore, DeMaio claimed Bosnich was fired for plagiarism, and that he suspected Bosnich was responsible for the May break-in of DeMaio's campaign headquarters days before the primary. This is not the first time DeMaio has been accused of sexual misconduct. On Wednesday, San Diego council member Donna Frye said, “What I believe is that there are other victims." Frye hasn't provided further context or clarifying information, other than, "Based on others I’ve spoken with recently where there is smoke, there’s fire," but what does that even mean? In any case, her statements are putting the DeMaio campaign in full-on damage control mode. Over the summer, the story in California's 52nd District House election was that of a "New Generation" Republican---openly gay and pro-choice but a strong fiscal conservative---embarking on a long-shot upset campaign against incumbent Democrat Scott Peters, who was billed as just another liberal progressive.

Late last week sexual harassment accusations against Carl DeMaio, the Republican candidate in California’s 52nd district House race, made national headlines. The “New Generation Republican” who seeks to broaden conservatism’s appeal to typically non-Republican groups has categorically denied the claims, calling them “completely false.” The man making the accusations is Todd Bosnich, DeMaio’s former campaign policy director, who like DeMaio is openly gay. Bosnich described in a CNN interview repeated instances of inappropriate intimate and sexual behavior DeMaio allegedly displayed towards him. These alleged acts included masturbating in front of him and caressing his neck, and according to Bosnich the harassment went on for several months. To make matters worse for DeMaio, this is not the first time he has been accused of sexually inappropriate behavior. He was accused last year by a fellow city councilman of masturbating on two separate occasions in a city hall bathroom. That this is the second accusation against him, and that the more recent accuser Bosnich is willing to so publically describe his harassment, does not bode well for DeMaio. As reported earlier, DeMaio recently clinched a polling lead against incumbent Democrat Scott Peters in this highly competitive race. Even if the allegations are completely false, such an “October Surprise” could derail this otherwise impressive campaign.

While reporting on the San Diego area's extremely competitive congressional race in CA-52 between Democrat Scott Peters and Republican Carl DeMaio, my colleague Casey Breznick noted that "DeMaio recently took further steps to distance himself from the Tea Party by releasing a new campaign ad where he says:
“As a proud gay American, I’ve been called a lot of things in my life, but a Tea Party extremist? Nothing could be farther from the truth."
I assert that the internal polls for Peters must be worse than those Casey officially reported, because the Democrat ads are referencing Tea Party so often that one could confuse DeMaio for the president of Lipton Tea Company. And, as I noted previously, DeMaio has never truly been "Tea Party". However, I am now concerned that the ad may have been too demeaning of the area's Tea Party groups, who are among the most active grassroots supporters of DeMaio. Dawn Wildman, co-founder of the SoCalTax Revolt Coalition and the organizer of the area's first Tea Party finds the approach disturbing. She says:

The openly gay “New Generation” Republican Carl DeMaio is now polling three points above incumbent Democrat Scott Peters in California’s evenly split 52nd district. A UT San Diego poll released Monday shows DeMaio polling at 48% and Peters at 45%. Since the difference falls within the poll’s margin of error, the race stands at a virtual tie. This is an improvement from September, when DeMaio dropped below Peters for the first time since polling began in June. [caption id="attachment_102134" align="alignnone" width="427"]From UT San Diego. From UT San Diego.[/caption] It has been a whirlwind campaign for Peters and especially for DeMaio, who launched his maverick campaign after losing the 2012 mayoral race in San Diego. While Peters has consistently struggled to even appeal to his liberal base—being ranked by liberal bloggers as one of the worst freshman Democrats—DeMaio’s vows to push forward his “Fix Congress First” legislation and his efforts to reach out to traditionally non-Republican are impressing San Diegans and Republicans across the country. You can read my past coverage of the CA52 race for further details: #CA52: Flip opportunity against 1st term Dem in evenly split district and #CA52 still looking like Republican flip opportunity. UT San Diego breaks down the polling data by specific categories. Here’s a quick summary:

The Morning Insurrection newsletter reminded me that today would be a great day to take a look at the state of the congressional race in my district (CA-52), which is pitting Democratic incumbent Scott Peters against a former city council-member and veteran GOP campaigner Carl DeMaio. We have covered this race before:  #CA52: Flip opportunity against 1st term Dem in evenly split district As of today, the district remains a very distinct "flip opportunity" for Republicans to gain a seat in the House.  According to Roll Call, Peters holds an exceedingly slight lead over DeMaio.
Peters leads DeMaio, 48 percent to 43 percent — slightly outside the survey’s 4.9 point margin of error. The poll was conducted by GBA Strategies and surveyed 400 likely voters via live telephone between July 20-22. This race in California’s 52nd District, located in and around San Diego, is a top Republican target in November. The National Republican Congressional Committee has touted DeMaio as a top recruit in the district that President Barack Obama won with 52 percent last cycle.
DeMaio must be upsetting all the right (wrong?) people, as his campaign offices were just vandalized: That the Peters campaign is now attempting to gin-up his base with "Tea Party" charges against DeMaio is good evidence that his real poll position is less than stable. Here an example of the tactic from Peters' campaign website: