Meet Congresswoman-Elect Vicky Hartzler: Missouri’s Anti-Gay Zealot

Following last Tuesday's election, RWW will bring you our list of the "The Ten Scariest Republicans Heading to Congress." Our seventh candidate profile is on Missouri's Vicky Hartzler:

Although Ike Skelton, the long-time representative in Missouri’s fourth congressional district, was far from a supporter of LGBT equality, Vicky Hartzler, who defeated him in this year’s election, has based her political career on supporting discrimination against gays and lesbians.

A former state legislator, she was the spokeswoman and public face of the Coalition to Protect Marriage in Missouri, which successfully amended the state constitution to include a ban same-sex marriage (which was already banned by statute) in 2004. The New York Times writes that her group used “church functions, yard signs and a ‘marriage chain’ of rallies across the state,” and Hartzler “said she hoped that the outcome would send a loud message to the rest of the country: ‘Here in the heartland we have a heart for families, and this is how deeply we feel about marriage.’”

Her work helped her receive praise from Religious Right leaders like Mike Huckabee, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, and Penny Nance of Concerned Women PAC.

Mother Jones asked if Hartzler was the “most anti-gay candidate in America” since she believes that repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell will “put us at risk,” maintains that sexual orientation is a choice and therefore gay people aren’t entitled to civil rights, and dubbed hate crimes legislation one of the “the extreme agenda items of the gay movement.”

Paul Guequierre of the Human Rights Campaign told Mother Jones that while “Ike Skelton has not been a friend of the LGBT community,” unlike Hartzler, “he does not wake up in the morning thinking about what he can do to harm the LGBT community.”

A staunch anti-choice activist, Hartzler supported legislation which “would have allowed for prosecutors to charge women who obtained late-term abortions with murder” and “also have permitted second-degree murder charges to be filed against doctors who performed such procedures.” She was also the chief sponsor of a bill that would pressure women seeking an abortion to view their sonograms. Throughout her career in the State House, she consistently received perfect ratings from the right-wing Missouri Family Network.

Hartzler wrote a book for Christian activists running for office called “Running God’s Way: Step by Step to a Successful Political Campaign,” which “discusses how to run a political campaign by using events and stories in the bible as a guide.” Phyllis Schlafly gave her a laudatory introduction at an Eagle Forum event, calling her book “a manual for action.”

In a profile by the American Family Association, Hartzler said that she found inspiration from God to run for public office at the age of nine, and her book maintains that “Christians must become more active in politics if they are to have the impact God calls them to have.” Hartzler said that her book provides Christian candidates with “the tools and inspiration they need to bring God’s light in a darkening world.”

According to one sympathetic review in a local newspaper, Hartzler’s book “praises Absalom — a rebellious son of King David, God’s anointed leader for Israel and according to Christian theology an early example of divinely ordained rule prefiguring that of Jesus Christ — as being the “first politician” and an example for modern political leaders. In Hartzler’s words, ‘Absalom won over the hearts of the people of Israel using time-tested campaign strategies. We, too, can campaign successfully following these same guidelines.’”

A climate change denier, Hartzler asserted that she does not believe in climate change since she read “some articles that [said] it’s actually decreasing, that we have climates getting colder…and certainly, I don’t believe that if there is a climate change that man has a very significant role in that.”

Hartzler ran an ugly anti-immigrant ad against Ike Skelton, where she claimed that by voting to reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program he supports “welfare benefits” for “illegal immigrants”, and criticized him for opposing a measure that would prohibit illegal immigrants from attending public schools as “giving illegal immigrants free education.”

She appealed to Tea Partiers by slamming government spending, as she blasted Congress’s spending plans and said that “we just want the government to leave us alone here in Missouri’s 4th.” However, according to the Kansas City Star, Hartzler’s “farm has received $774,325 in federal subsidies from 1995 to 2009.” She defended the government farm subsidies as a “national defense issue,” and claimed that she would not support cuts to Social Security, Medicare, or defense.

In an editorial board interview she couldn’t name any programs she would cut funding to other than “the Lady Bird Highway Beautification projects. She indicated that garden clubs could do some of this work along the highways, saving public funds.”

However, Hartzler does appear to support spending money to expand the role of the Navy in Missouri, as she argued that under Skelton’s watch the landlocked state has “the smallest Navy here that we have had since the early 1960s.”

Hartzler blended her Tea Party lip service and Religious Right advocacy to topple one of the most powerful members of the House, and will now bring her years of anti-equality and anti-choice activism to become a prominent voice of the Far-Right in the GOP-led House.