Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is considered one of the front-runners in the herd of candidates seeking the GOP presidential nomination. But it turns out Walker is having a bit of a problem raising money from Wall Street types. It turns out that Walker’s opposition to marriage equality is a liability with the more socially liberal (and fabulously wealthy) New Yorkers.
Walker likes to speak out of both sides of his mouth, appealing to the hard-core right while sounding reasonable. He’s publicly ducked the issue of marriage equality, saying that “It really doesn’t matter what I think now” once a court struck down his state’s marriage ban. At the same time, he is in favor of a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and has been making the rounds among religious right types in Iowa proclaiming his steadfast opposition to lavender love.
Walker’s stance is causing him some financial headaches. The deep-pockets on Wall Street are keeping their wallets closed because they are convinced that Walker is an ideologue on the issue.
“Sometimes you can say something and people think you don’t mean it, and sometimes you can say something and people think you mean it,” one anonymous Republican told the Washington Post. “When Barack Obama said he’s against gay marriage in 2008, people didn’t think he meant it. But when Scott says it, people think he means it. This is a very big stumbling block for him on Wall Street.”
Of course, name a Republican candidate who isn’t against gay marriage. You can’t.
The distinction is that some wealthy donors apparently believe an establishment Republican like Jeb Bush will say one thing publicly and do another if elected. Bush is being squired around Wall Street circles by Ken Mehlman and other pro-marriage Republicans, even though his stated position on marriage is just as loathsome as Walker’s.
But those donors seem to believe that Bush is making the noises he has to in order to secure the nomination. The comparison to Obama is clever, but Obama actually favored marriage equality before he opposed it, so everyone knew his position was a ruse. There is nothing in Bush’s antigay past to suggest that he would ever actively support a gay issue, let along this one.
Of course, Wall donors are more interested in repealing Dodd-Frank, the legislation that put the brakes on the industry’s worst excesses, than they are in marriage equality. In the end, financial interests will rule. Yet as Walker is finding out, the big money is counting on a change of attitude among the candidates. Too bad the party faithful don’t feel the same way. It should make for an interesting primary season.