On Tuesday, Republicans in the District of Columbia elected two openly gay party members to the posts of national committeeman and committeewoman.
Robert "Bob" Kabel and Jill Homan will officially take their positions in September at the conclusion of the 2012 Republican Convention. When they do, the District will be the only jurisdiction with two openly gay GOP committee members.
For the past seven years the District has been home to the only openly gay member of the RNC. Since 2005, Kabel has been serving as the Chairman of the D.C. GOP. His tenure as chair is set to expire in January 2013.
Homan, who defeated Terri Galvez in a hotly contested race for the committeewoman slot, will join Kabel in their unique roles as gay leaders in the Republican Party.
Kabel said party members -- and in particular RNC Chair Reince Priebus -- have been very encouraging.
“Every urban party to some extent relies on its Log Cabin chapter for grassroots support,” said Kabel. He referred to fellow gay Republicans as “political junkies” who are “doers” that play a vital role in organizing the GOP in metropolitan centers where it is often in the minority.
Kabel is not solely focused on the politics of being a gay Republican. He said future success for the GOP in the District depends on the party reaching out to every neighborhood in the city. Kabel pointed out Ron Moten, a high-profile, African-American supporter of former Mayor Adrian Fenty. Moten left the Democratic Party in 2011 to run as a Republican for D.C. Council in a part of town where Democrats outnumber Republicans 30-to-1.
Though Homan is aware of the historic nature of her victory, in an interview she stressed that her approach to campaigning, which included knocking on more than 3,000 doors since October, was about connecting voters to the local party.
“I first demonstrate what I can do, before I talk about my personal life,” said Homan who recently penned a column for the Daily Caller in which she laid out ideas for building and energizing a Republican presence in urban centers.
“To remain a competitive political party well into the future, we must develop a successful model of a local urban Republican Party that can be exported nationwide,” wrote Homan. “And there’s no better place to start than here in Washington, D.C.”
Homan noted that many Republicans in the District do not feel connected to the local GOP and that one of her goals is to get people excited about growing the party.
To inspire people on the campaign trail, Homan said she often told the story of Tim Day, who ran for a seat on the D.C. Council in 2010 as a long-shot Republican. During his campaign, Day launched a one-man inquiry into Councilmember Harry Thomas Jr.’s corrupt practices. Though Day lost by a landslide, Thomas would later resign and plead guilty to two felonies. He is likely to be sent to prison in the coming months.
Homan said that many residents were unaware of Day’s role in bringing down Thomas.
“Tim was my bright spot story,” Homan said.
Day is now running as the lone Republican in a crowded field to fill the seat vacated by Thomas.
Kabel and Homan will serve for the next four years as RNC national committee members.
Chuck Thies is a political analyst and consultant. His columns appear every Tuesday and Thursday on First Read DMV. He co-hosts "DC Politics" on WPFW, 89.3 FM. Since 1991, Chuck has lived in either D.C., Maryland or Virginia. Email your tips and complaints to firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet at @chuckthies.