By Darcie Moran
Ingham County Chronicle staff writer
To most, Fred Karger may look like a typical presidential candidate.
For a long time that’s exactly what he wanted -– to seem typical.
Karger, who visited Michigan State University Feb. 17, said that through his youth and initial years in politics, he loved the idea of running for office. The problem was that Karger is gay.
Karger finally decided to come out in his efforts to save the oldest gay bar on the West Coast, the Boom Boom Room in his hometown of Laguna Beach, CA. Since then, Karger has been open about his sexual orientation and has decided to run for president.
He is the first openly gay individual to run for president in his party. He is supportive of women’s right to choose in the case of abortion. He supports the legalization of marijuana. And Fred Karger is — a Republican?
“I’m what the Republican Party used to be when I was your age,” Karger told an MSU introduction to journalism class. “I define the Republican Party as keeping government out of our lives … ”
And his ideals for the Republican Party are starting to grasp public attention.
Karger was able to beat Michele Bachmann in his one previous time on a primary ballot in New Hampshire. While his name will appear on several other states’ ballots in upcoming primaries, the earliest one will be here in Michigan.
MSU student and Haslett resident Chase Gentile said that while a candidate like Karger may be rare, it’s a good start.
“I think it’s very positive just to show that people are like that,” Gentile said. “There are different people of any kind of belief.”
And Karger hopes to reach out to those with different beliefs.
Karger said his message is “if you’re an Obama supporter, he’s unopposed. Vote for Fred Karger.”
While Karger considers himself a viable option for those with Obama-like ideals, getting the word out has been extremely difficult. Karger has not been allowed to participate in any debates, though he has made the qualifications in several cases.
Even LGBT groups don’t provide a sure vote, said the candidate. He said that while they loved him for being actively involved in equal rights campaigns, many won’t vote for him because he is a Republican.
“Even Obama is too conservative (for LGBT groups … They are slowly coming around,” he said.
Karger is not naïve. He has dubbed his own campaign “Fred Who?”
His goal for the moment is to simply win the 8th Congressional District// which covers Ingham, Clinton and Livingston counties and parts of Oakland and Shiawassee counties.
“I think it’s cool to have a more sane Republican candidate,” said MSU Residential College in the Arts and Humanities freshman Jenny Crakes. “I don’t like the other candidates.”