What's a frothing-at-the-mouth preacher, who's been named one of the Top 10 Power Broker of the Religious Right and can squeeze more than $6 million a year out of the faithful (and/or gullible), got to do to get a public display of affection from the California Republican Party? If you know, you should contact OC Weekly favorite Rev. Lou Sheldon, the barking mad Moses of the Anaheim-based Traditional Values Coalition, because while the state GOP is willing to hug Rev. Lou and his flock/political machine to its bosom when closeted away with the hot-eyed rightwing of the party, it doesn't want to be seen by the general public to be keeping company with Lou.
As the San Francisco Chronicle reports:
Ben Lopez, the chief lobbyist and spokesman for the Traditional Values Coalition — the Anaheim-based evangelical advocacy group led by the controversial Rev. Lou Sheldon — has been fired from his new job as an outreach worker with the California Republican Party, sources said Tuesday.
Lopez's hiring had been hailed by conservatives, who have been concerned about Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's moves to the political center, when it was made public late last week as the state Republican Party opened its convention.
The hiring was seen as a move aimed specifically to shore up the governor's re-election support among evangelicals, who are a key voting group for state Republicans.
Patrick Dorinson, the California Republican Party communications director, rejected that characterization, saying Tuesday that Lopez's work “was through the convention, and that work is now completed.”
Yet on Sunday, Dorinson had given no indication that Lopez's job with the party would end.
Dorinson on Sunday said only that Lopez was “not authorized to be a media spokesperson” for the GOP and would not be permitted to talk to the press in an official capacity.
Lopez could not be reached Tuesday for comment, but sources said he was informed of the termination and “given different reasons” for it.
The Chronicle's Carla Marinucci later reached Lopez for comment, and he told her that while he had been surprised at being let go, and had “fully intended and was prepared to assist the Republican statewide candidates by doing evangelical outreach up to election day”, he “would not classify this scenario as being fired.” Clearly, either Lopez is loyal team player willing parrot the party line, or he's never been fired before.
Other members of the state GOP are a little less sunny than Lopez, according to Marinucci:
Several GOP insiders, speaking not for attribution, called the hiring of Lopez, a top Traditional Values Coalition official, a rare misstep because of Sheldon's high profile. And they said Schwarzenegger's camp, aiming to squelch the rising controversy, quickly cut its losses by dumping Lopez.
“Why would they want to give the Democratic Party and Phil Angelides a gift on a silver platter?” said a GOP strategist, speaking on condition of anonymity. The decision presented the ammunition for political opponents to “call into question: is this the new Arnold or the right-winger we had last year?”
It's ironic that Rev. Lou's gay-bashing– gay and lesbian groups were the first to raise objections to the hiring of Lopez– has forced Arnold and the GOP's relationship with Lou and his minions into the shadows, transforming it into a love that dare not speak its name.