06/02/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Jack Roeser, Homophobic Republican Who Spread Mark Kirk Gay Rumor, On The Rise In State GOP

Mark Kirk ran relatively uncontested in the Republican primary for US Senate. But one of his opponents in the race, Andy Martin, made sure he got in a handful of salacious smears on Kirk before election day.

In addition to calling Kirk a "de facto pedophile," Martin dropped the big bad boogeyman of the Republican Party: he cited a "solid rumor" purveyed by state GOP figure Jack Roeser that Mark Kirk is a homosexual.

And in a move that is sure to lead to a little awkwardness, Roeser has now become one of the top statewide Republican Party fundraisers.

Greg Hinz at Crain's Chicago Business reports that Roeser will sponsor a fundraising dinner on April 22, a dinner at which Mark Kirk will receive top billing.

Hinz writes, "I'm half-tempted to buy a ticket to the April 22 event. If Mr. Kirk shows up -- his office isn't commenting -- I'd love to see the look on his face when Jack Roeser comes by."

Roeser has long been active in Illinois Republican politics. He is far to the right on many social issues, in particular on gay rights, and these opinions have led him to a lengthy and strenuous opposition of Mark Kirk. During the primary season, the Chicago Tribune reported:

Roeser ... has been a longtime critic of Kirk, promoting a "Kick Mark Kirk to the Curb" effort over the five-term North Shore congressman's socially moderate positions on abortion and other issues. Roeser also has worked to enlist disaffected "tea party" support for his favored candidate in the Senate race, Hinsdale businessman Patrick Hughes.


Viscerally disdainful of gay rights, Roeser, 86, said on one broadcast that he was glad he went to a Roman Catholic elementary school because "I actually learned to spell and do arithmetic and other things that are a betrayal of gay causes."

Of those who have a gay lifestyle, Roeser said, "We all know that's kind of a death sentence in life."

Roeser and his beefy checkbook -- he made a fortune with his electronics firm -- are now being welcomed with open arms into the state GOP, Crain's reports. In fact, Roeser is in the running for the party's #2 statewide position, that of national committeeman.

Hinz suggests that Roeser's involvement with the party may be a boon for Democrats, especially given that his outspoken positions on social views line up closely with Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Brady's.

"Perhaps," Hinz writes, "the rise of Mr. Roeser will give Democrats just one more opportunity to force Bill Brady to talk about controversial social issues in his race for governor rather than taxes and spending."