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NOM Fails To Back WA Anti-Equality Primary Challenger

August 21, 2012 2:27 pm ET by Carlos Maza

In January, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) pledged $250,000 to help fund primary challenges against any Washington state Republican legislator who voted in favor of the state’s marriage equality law.

One such legislator was Rep. Maureen Walsh (R-16), who gave an impassioned speech on the House floor in defense of marriage equality:

Last week, however, Walsh won her primary, handily defeating anti-equality challenger Mary Edwards 62-31. Edwards received no financial backing from NOM:

NOM has not made good on its pledge. Six local Republicans voted for gay marriage. Two of them are up for reelection this year—Sen. Steve Litzow (R-41, Mercer Island) and Rep. Maureen Walsh (R-16, Walla Walla, pictured).

Litzow does not have a Republican challenger, but Walsh does—staunch gay-marriage opponent Mary Edwards. While Walsh has raised $62,000, including big donations from gay rights advocates such as Lambda Legal board member Eric Nilson ($900) from Cleveland, Ohio, Edwards has raised $3,633—and no check from NOM.

The primary is over and Walsh won 62-31. Since it’s a top-two race, and they were the only two on the ballot, Edwards also went through. Perhaps NOM will double down in the general?

NOM may be waiting until the general election to begin backing Edwards, but it wouldn’t be surprising if the organization was struggling to decide what to do, having over-committed itself financially. Aside from Washington, NOM has pledged millions of dollars to challenging pro-equality legislators in MarylandNew Hampshire, and New York. The group is also ostensibly working to elect Mitt Romney and defend the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in federal court. All of these donations can be a tall order for an organization that claimed to be on the brink of financial ruin less than a year ago.

If Walsh’s primary is indicative of NOM’s willingness and ability to intervene in legislative elections, then pro-equality state legislators may have even less to worry about than they expected.


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