Freshman lawmaker hits gay Republican challenger for Tea Party speech

Rep. Scott Peters's (D-Calif.) campaign is making hay out of a speech his GOP opponent, Carl DeMaio, gave to a Tea Party group in which he seemingly embraced the movement.

ADVERTISEMENT
DeMaio, then running for mayor, called the Tea Party "the conscience of the accountable-government movement" in the speech and seemed to disparage bipartisan compromise, slamming his mayoral opponents for seeking to bargain on city employee pensions rather than just push through cuts with a ballot initiative.

"I've always said that reform happens in government not by as, one of my opponents, both of them are saying: 'Let's get everyone around the table and we'll talk about it.' Baloney. You had 20 years to talk about it. It's now the people coming to actually implement it," he said.

He also said that if he won his mayoral race he'd owe "you, and our collective movement, everything." He ultimately lost that race.

DeMaio, who is openly gay, has sought to present himself as a "new generation Republican" throughout the House race, touting a libertarian-leaning agenda. He's touted his centrism on social issues, but Peters wants voters to focus on DeMaio's conservative fiscal views, which his campaign says this video illustrates.

The two are battling over who is the more centrist candidate in a San Diego-area swing district with a high number of independent and centrist voters. Polls show a tight race.

"The video makes this much pretty clear: Carl DeMaio loves the Tea Party, and the Tea Party loves Carl DeMaio," Peters spokesman Alex Roth said. "Voters should remember this video the next time DeMaio tries to pretend he's anything other than a far-right candidate."

DeMaio's campaign pushed back on Peters's characterization.

"Carl has attended meetings from groups all across the political spectrum over the years to engage them in fixing San Diego's problems in a bipartisan fashion. Carl was not a Tea Party choice in the primary, and has consistently taken on extreme factions within his own party to accomplish meaningful reform."

The video drew attention locally, with San Diego television featuring it in Tuesday night's coverage.

Watch the full video here.