While most eyes are on the White House race, homosexual activists are quietly targeting smaller contests throughout rural America this year.
CBN News first exposed the strategy this summer when it was presented by multi-millionaire donor and gay organizer Tim Gill.
Heartland States Fight Back
Now, pro-family groups in the heartland are paying attention -- and fighting back.
Iowa is a prime example. The rural beauty of this state where corn and pork are king can distract from the battle at hand: out-of-state homosexual activists working to buy their way into the state legislature.
Chuck Hurley, President of the Iowa Family Policy Center, is well aware of the strategy.
"If the homosexuals can win," he says, "not just in San Francisco or Boston -- but if they can win in Des Moines -- it's a great PR victory for them."
Iowa is one of several heartland states that Gill is targeting. The Colorado native made millions after starting the publishing software giant Quark in the 1980's. His new political career is equally impressive.
In 2006, Gill and his foundation coordinated the backing of his candidates with close to $15 million, won 50 of 70 targeted races and helped to flip four state chambers.
"There are thousands of people in this nation that are really in need of a new career," is the way Gill explains his strategy.
Democratic Control 'Always Good for Gay People'
CBN News was there this summer when he made a surprise appearance at the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender caucus at the Democratic National Convention. He told his supporters there "what is the very most important thing you can do is go back and support those pro-gay state legislators. Eliminate the anti-gay state legislators."
Gill maintains, "we successfully flipped legislatures around this country from Republican control to Democratic control and the net result is always good for gay people. Always."
Gill believes the most efficient use of his and others' political dollar is to go local. He told the group, "Every single advancement in gay rights has been made at the the state level."
Gill also advocates donating in rural states where campaign contributions can stretch farther -- and help eliminate legislators unfavorable to the homosexual agenda. He challenged the group, "if everyone gives $50 to 10 or 12 candidates around the U.S. that are from those small states -- we can get rid of them."
Iowa a Target Due to Marriage Amendment
In Iowa right now, the Family Policy Center believes Gill has organized like-minded friends around the country to give to at least 13 statehouse races. At stake -- a marriage amendment that must pass through the legislature before Iowans can vote on it.
Ross Paustian could be a target. The fifth-generation farmer from Walcott is running on the GOP ticket for an Assembly seat in the 84th district. His opponent, incumbent Elesha Gayman from Davenport, has received more than $11,000 from out-of-state gay activists. Paustian says it's up to the voters to decide if the out-of-state contributions bother them.
But he says it definitely bothers him. "I can name on one hand my out-of-state donors," he says."Let the people in Iowa elect their officials and have their voices represented in Des Moines. Why have someone from out-of-state? They've got their own state legislature. Leave us alone here in Iowa," he added.
Gayman would not return CBN's calls. Neither would incumbent candidate Eric Palmer, who's also accepted more than $11,000 from out-of-state homosexual activists.
Out-of-State Homosexual Activists Donate
Two years ago, Gill helped Palmer take out Iowa's House Speaker Danny Carroll in the 75th district. Carroll works as a community relations manager for Iowa Telecom and owns a pumpkin farm in Grinnell. He says he had no idea what hit him until after the election, when an Atlantic Monthly reporter pointed out the donations.
But this year, Carroll is running again with a much better idea of who and what he is up against. "A lot of times we feel like we're losing the fight," he says, "but we know who wins in the end so we take hope and encouragement from that."
Carroll believes his leadership in advancing the marriage amendment in the Iowa Assembly put him on Gill's radar. Now, Chuck Hurley and other pro-family advocates believe Gill is making good on his word: promoting candidates who push gay-friendly bills.
"I served in the Iowa House for six years," Hurley says, "I know what special interests try to do when they contribute to campaigns."
Hurley says the influence is already evident. After Gill helped to flip the Iowa legislature in 2006, lawmakers introduced a slew of pro-gay bills.
Wisconsin's Assembly a Target
Across the border in Wisconsin, family advocates wised up to Gill after a local blogger checked campaign contributions. He found a similar pattern to Iowa's: a group of out-of-state gay activists giving $500 and $1,000 at a time in key races.
Why might Gill be interested in Wisconsin? Because he believes Democratic control is always better for pro-gay legislation. And he has a great opportunity in the Badger state right now, with Republicans holding the Assembly by a slim margin and Democrats controlling the Senate and governor's office.
"I'm sure that what he did is said 'look at this. We get four or five people, we turn four or five races around and all of a sudden we have a Democrat-controlled senate, a Democrat-controlled assembly and a Democrat in the executive office,'" Julaine Appling says.
Appling's pro-family group, Wisconsin Family Action, is running radio spots in some of the districts where they've found the out-of-state contributions. The spots are designed to educate voters on the Gill factor.
"When you have $10,000 or $12,000 or a significant percent of your total income coming in from out-of-state sources," says Appling, "you better believe it makes a difference."
This summer, Gill mentioned a few targets by name, including one in his backyard, Rep. Marilyn Musgrave. In 2003, the congresswoman introduced the federal marriage amendment. In campaigns since then, Gill and friends have spent millions on various media to take her out.
"For whatever reason," says Musgrave, "I have become a symbol. I have become a target of his vitriolic frustration and I hope that I can stand, not because I'm such an incredible person, but because I have become a symbol for people who want religious freedom."
Pro-Family Needs to Step up Efforts
Whatever happens on November 4th, pro-family advocates across the nation are recognizing the need to step up efforts, especially at the state level.
"If pro-family, pro-marriage individuals will get as serious about electing our friends as Tim Gill has been about electing his friends," says Hurley, "we can win this."
What might getting serious look like? Hurley believes pro-family donors must be found to match Gill's money head-on and a strategy is needed that will strengthen traditional marriage, from coast to coast and in between.