As a gay conservative, I have been disappointed by Patrick Guerriero’s failure to stand up to the leftist tilt of the major gay organizations. As a Republican, I wish he had more frequently promoted conservative ideas — and developed a message on gay issues consistent with Ronald Reagan’s positive vision of an inclusive and optimistic America. And while I’ve been critical of many of Patrick’s policies as head of Log Cabin, as a former club president, I appreciate how he has been more responsive than his predecessor to the clubs.
With Patrick’s depature from Log Cabin, we hope the Board of Directors will pick as his successor someone more eager to build bridges to the GOP than to the gay groups. And while many gay Republicans delight in his departure, as our posts on Log Cabin have shown, his record has not entirely been a bad one.
On a number of levels, he did much to improve the organization. I witnessed this firsthand last April at Log Cabin’s convention in New Orleans. Almost from the moment I arrived, I experienced a welcome warmer than that I experienced at conventions in the late 1990s as president of the then-fastest growing club in the nation. Just from talking from club leaders (including the president of the club I founded), under Patrick, the national office has been more committed to building the grassroots.
During my era, club presidents were among those complaining the most about the national office. It did not consult us before making major policy decisions, often releasing letters addressed to Log Cabin’s membership to the media before they released them to us. Lately, however, whenever I hear from club presidents, even those who differ with Patrick on policy, they praise him for the warmth of his conversation (in person and on the phone) and his alacrity in responding to their concerns. (Even his critics in the organization have praised his personal qualities.)
I experienced his warmth when I met him. I wrote in a post last year:
I understand better now why so many people in Log Cabin like [Patrick]. He has better political skills, better political savvy, than all but a handful of gay leaders I have met. He handles his critics, at least publicly, far better than his predecessor, a good quality in someone in the public eye.
Even though I was first introduced to him just hours after the blog had broken the story of the lawsuit against him, as I noted in post taking his measure a year ago, he
still greeted me warmly. He did not fault (or otherwise show any disregard for) me. I was impressed how he maintained his cool while talking to someone who has frequently criticized his leadership.
My concern then was that even at the Log Cabin Convention, he did not do enough to show his commitment to the GOP nor to take the gay leaders to task for their angry anti-Bush rhetoric.
As he departs, I believe Patrick Guerriero leaves behind a mixed record at Log Cabin. On a grassroots level, he did recognize the importance of working with the clubs and their leaders, yet, on a national level, he seemed too eager not to offend the national gay groups. The skills that served him well with club leaders also served him well with the leaders of those left-leaning groups.
As the Board of Directors begins its search for his successor, they would do well to pick someone with Patrick’s political savvy and respect for Log Cabin’s grassroots. But, they must also pick someone less eager than he to please the national gay groups and more eager to find common ground with the GOP.
I wish Patrick well in his future endeavors, but only wish that instead of heading to the Gill Action Fund, he was taking over as head of HRC.
-Dan (AKA GayPatriotWest): GayPatriotWest@aol.com