Former Finance Guru Jim Neal Wants Place In Senate

Yesterday we introduced you to gay Senatorial candidate Jim Neal, pictured above with one of his two sons.

The conversation continues today with our editor getting into the nitty-gritty of Neal’s current campaign.

Andrew Belonsky: What made you stop volunteering for or fundraising for campaigns, as you did for Kerry, and actually launch your own?

Jim Neal: Well, I’ve always wanted to do it. I was a little kid and wanted to be president. I don’t want to be president right now, but I have always contemplated running for federal office. I think there were two things that prevented me from moving on it. One was that when I did come out in my early-30’s, I thought, “Okay, that’s it. A gay person can’t run for public office. It’s off the table”. The times changed and that was no longer necessarily the prevailing wisdom, but I had custody of my two children. I was a single parent raising two young children and they came first. Their needs came first. That was the most difficult job I’ve ever had in my life, but it was also extraordinarily rewarding. Raising two kids with two parents is a challenge, much less one, because you have to be both dad and mom. You’ve got to have the maternal side and the more stereotypical father role. I think I yielded more to the maternal because I felt like my kids needed that, because they didn’t have it. Even before I declared my candidacy, I spoke with both my children – my boys, they’re not children anymore – and told them what it would entail, made it clear that I was the one running for office, they could be as involved or not be as involved as they wanted to be. They both said, “Go for it,” but my older son threw in the caveat, “Dad, please don’t ever forget the little guy.”

AB: Your sexuality is not the cornerstone of your campaign, but I want to talk a little about Chuck Schumer and how things went down with your campaign announcement and what could be perceived as the cold shoulder from your Democratic peers. Do you think that reaction tacitly stressed your sexuality?

JN: Not necessarily. There was a good deal of concern – not necessarily expressed, but certainly there were folks who were part of the status quo political system that found my candidacy threatening. They felt that a gay person on the ballot would draw out social conservatives to vote against me and therefore to vote for the other candidate on the ballot. My view of that – I didn’t foresee that. It didn’t even cross my mind. Chalk it up to political naivete, but it didn’t cross my mind because I think it’s silly. It’s analogous to the so-called conventional wisdom that said a black person could never be elected or a woman, much less a Roman Catholic to the White House. They were wrong then and they are wrong now.

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  • ProfessorVP

    I don’t know if a gay man can win in North Carolina, but he sure can in South Carolina, and has won. Lindsey Graham.

  • Jim Neal

    Enjoyed the conversation AB. I hope we’ll chat again down the road. And I urge those of you interested in voting and being a part of changing the paradigm go online to and make a contribution– and get your friends to do the same.

    I’m gonna work like hell to give you a good return on your investment.


    jim neal

  • MattC

    Please Gays, if you’re going to contribute to a candidate just because they’re gay–contribute to one who could actually win. It’s called the Victory Fund, and that’s what it’s there for.

    People like California’s Chris Cabaldon, Jared Polis in Colorado, or Jim Roth in Oklahoma(!).

    Sorry to be a negative Nancy, Jim, you seem like a nice guy, but snowball and hell come to mind unless someone snaps a pic of Elizabeth Dole eating a baby or kicking a puppy.

  • yalesing

    gay man is ok,contribute his strength to local deveolping.he is promising,as a gay,i support his election,i meet many gay man on they are also proponent of him

  • Charley

    To run as an out gay candidate takes courage and should be supported. It serves to change prevaling mainstream thought that we are all self destructive young 24 hour party people at Gay Pride parades. Visibility in mainstream media is just as important as winning. Good luck Jim.

  • Charley

    I used to give to the Victory Fund in Charlotte NC, that is until huge sums of money were embezzled by it’s Chairman. I prefer to give directly to the candidate without a third party handing out my money. Same with HRC. They gave to a Republican candidate against our rights. Have never have given them a dime since.

  • George

    I donated $25 to Jim Neal on a whim recently (I was high off excitement of Barack Obama’s Iowa win and then an email from Jim Neal’s campaign so I though “why not?”)

    And I just got a Thanks You letter with a personal handwritten note from Jim himself. It was so nice.

    Him quietly and calmly beating Dole fair and square in a southern state would be an amazing step for gay equality. I encourage anyone to make a small donation!

  • chandler in lasvegas

    Dear MattC,
    Your narrow minded dismissal is a pernicious symptom of what is bad about progressive gay politics. I have stopped making large donations to gay orgs, aside from the usual $35 a year membership that all have seemed to have adopted, and instead fund worthy candidates directly. Your arrogant statement tells me I should fund whom YOU choose. Jim’s candidacy in North Carolina is a worthy campaign. You do the people you mention a disservice by your hubris. MattC, you are a silly and ridiculous person.

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