SEATTLE — Republican attorney general candidate Reagan Dunn is finding himself shunned for coming out in support of gay marriage in Washington state.
The Seattle Times reported that in the past week he’s been disinvited to big GOP dinners in Whatcom and Franklin counties.
“That’s the name of the game,” Dunn said. “There has been some blowback.”
Dunn, a King County councilman whose mother was the late U.S. Rep. Jennifer Dunn, voted last week for a measure supporting a gay-marriage legalization effort in the Legislature. That’s at odds with the GOP’s platform.
Four Republican state lawmakers have endorsed the legislation, but it remains unpopular with most conservatives. Dunn’s decision prompted the Whatcom and Franklin county Republican organizations to withdraw their invitations to have him speak at their Lincoln Day fundraising dinners next month.
“We just thought it probably would be best if he did not come,” said Luanne Van Werven, chairwoman of the Whatcom County Republican Party. She said the dinner was meant to emphasize party unity and that Dunn would be a distraction.
Curtis Mohr, chairman of the Franklin County Republicans, told the newspaper, “We wish to send a strong message to those that oppose our political philosophy.”
Recent polls suggest state voters are roughly split on whether gay marriage should be legalized.
Dunn is expected to match up against Democratic King County Councilmember Bob Ferguson in the November election. But his position on gay marriage has also earned him another opponent, Everett attorney Stephen Pidgeon, who jumped into the race as a conservative alternative to Dunn.
Pidgeon called Dunn’s gay-marriage stance “the straw that broke the camel’s back” in terms of his decision to run.
Pidgeon has previously worked with groups that unsuccessfully tried to overturn the state’s domestic-partnership law. On Monday, he filed a proposed ballot initiative that would define marriage as between one man and one woman.
It’s not clear how much support Pidgeon can muster. He contends President Obama is a Muslim who will “lock” the border if re-elected.
“You will not be able to escape this country,” Pidgeon told a conservative radio station last year. “You will be locked into this country, and you will be under the tyranny of the iron fist of an Islamic caliphate.”
Washington State Republican Party Chairman Kirby Wilbur said Dunn’s stance has sparked an emotional reaction from many. But he said Dunn has 10 months to convince Republicans he’s on their side on most other issues.
“Reagan is an experienced politician,” Wilbur said. “Can he handle it? We’ll see. I think he can.”