Scott Walker's anti-gay marriage stance is costing his campaign cash

GOP plutocrats are big fans of the Wisconsin governor's union busting. His gay bashing? Not so much

By Sophia Tesfaye

Published July 7, 2015 3:58PM (EDT)

Scott Walker                     (Reuters/Carlos Barria)
Scott Walker (Reuters/Carlos Barria)

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is preparing to become the 15th Republican candidate for president with an official announcement reportedly coming next week, but the conservative hero has run into a few hiccups has he attempts to expand his appeal nationally while maintaining his conservative bonafides. Following last month's Supreme Court ruling for nationwide marriage equality, Walker backed a constitutional amendment allowing states to restrict marriage to straights only -- a position so extreme that it's reportedly costing his campaign lots of cash as conservative megadonors withhold support.

Prominent conservative hedge fund managers, Dan Loeb, Cliff Asness and Paul Singer, each of whom made six-figure donations to the marriage equality campaign in New York State totaling more than $1 million, are all already "turned off" by Walker's stance, according to Politico. Singer, whose son is gay, has given at least $10 million to the marriage equality effort and was a huge supporter of Mitt Romney in 2012, giving his Super PAC $1 million and reportedly being very influential in Romney's decision to put Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan on the GOP ticket. Despite Singer's clear record working for marriage equality as a conservative, Walker apparently believed he had some means to win over the billionaire:

Over the past year, for example, [Walker's] waged a protracted push to secure the backing of Paul Singer, a New York City-based hedge fund manager and prominent Republican patron, visiting him alone or with small groups on at least three separate occasions. In one recent get-together, Walker even briefed the billionaire on his recent trip to Israel.

But Singer, said several sources familiar with the overtures, has been cool to the Wisconsin governor, turned off by his support for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

The governor's megadonor woes suggest that while GOP titans may be fans of Walker's crusades against unions and taxes, they're not on board with his hardline social conservatism. Many pundits have previously suggested that Walker, an evangelical with Tea Party and business support, could unite the GOP's diverse coalitions.

Walker's extreme stance has not only cost him funding from wealthy Wall Street conservatives, it's even drawn the ire of Walker's own sons, Matt and Alex, who were "disappointed" in their father's reaction to the Supreme Court decision according to their mother, Tonette. As she pointed out, the Walker's have a close gay relative in the family whose wedding Alex attended as the Best Man. “It’s hard for me because I have a cousin who I love dearly — she is like a sister to me — who is married to a woman, her partner of 18 years,” Tonette explained in a recent Washington Post profile.

But Walker seems not to care about family or hedge fund dollars, telling the Washington Post that the views of others “doesn’t mean I change my position,” although he conceded that some opinions may force him to find “a different way of explaining it, so they can appreciate where I am coming from.”

Republican presidential candidates Bobby Jindal, governor of Louisiana, and Texas Senator Ted Cruz have also called for a constitutional amendment allowing same-sex marriage bans following the Supreme Court's decision.

Sophia Tesfaye

Sophia Tesfaye is Salon's senior editor for news and politics, and resides in Washington, D.C. You can find her on Twitter at @SophiaTesfaye.

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2016 Elections Lbgt Rights Lgbt Scott Walker