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Washington GOP candidate Smiley is silent on her support for anti-LGBTQ figures and groups

Republican Washington U.S. Senate candidate Tiffany Smiley is a supporter of anti-LGBTQ evangelical leader Franklin Graham and groups such as Focus on the Family.

By Matt Cohen - November 04, 2022
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Tiffany Smiley, Franklin Graham
Tiffany Smiley poses with Franklin Graham during Graham's Decision America tour in 2018.

Ever since she advanced from the Republican primary to the general election, Washington Senate nominee Tiffany Smiley has not promoted her connections to far-right anti-LGBTQ groups and figures.

Smiley, a former nurse, is challenging Democratic incumbent Sen. Patty Murray. She is running in a reliably blue state where nearly 60% of voters supported President Joe Biden in 2020, and seems to have distanced herself during the general election campaign from the more extreme stances of her party.

Notably, in a recent campaign ad Smiley says she is pro-life but opposes a federal abortion ban. Smiley also signaled opposition to reducing Social Security benefits, a popular GOP policy item that many of her potential colleagues support. Axios reported in September that her campaign website had been scrubbed of statements that cast doubt on the legitimacy of the 2020 election.

Smiley has deep ties to Franklin Graham, an influential Christian evangelical leader with a long history of anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and associations with organizations that have been designated anti-gay hate groups. The website LGBTQ Nation reported in July that Smiley’s husband, Scott, attended West Point with Franklin’s son.

Graham tours the world preaching Christian values along with homophobic, transphobic, and Islamophobic rhetoric. The GLAAD Accountability Project includes a list of some of the things Graham has said, including praise for Russian President Vladimir Putin for “protecting Russian young people against homosexual propaganda” and for having “taken a stand to protect his nation’s children from the damaging effects of any gay and lesbian agenda.”

Smiley’s social media accounts have posted praise for some of Franklin Graham’s most radical viewpoints. Between 2015 and 2017, Smiley liked several tweets from Graham’s account promoting anti-trans policies, including the Trump administration’s move to ban trans people from the military and the North Carolina bill that prevented trans people from using the bathroom corresponding to their gender identity.

Graham drew ire early this year when he tweeted that people should “pray for Putin” ahead of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Members of the Graham family aren’t the only far-right figures with extremist views with whom Smiley is associated. She is listed as a contributor on the website of Focus on the Family, a fundamentalist Christian organization that is labeled an anti-LGBTQ hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Her page with the Speaker Exchange public speaking agency lists Focus on the Family among the media organizations that she’s contributed to.

Beyond her connections, Smiley has at times espoused conspiracy theories surrounding the 2020 election. In a September 2021 interview, Smiley refused to acknowledge that President Joe Biden had won the 2020 election, according to a recent Daily Beast article. But when CNN’s Dana Bash asked her in September whether she believes Biden won the election, she answered, “Yes, he’s our president.”

Despite Washington’s history of voting Democratic, Smiley has steadily climbed in the polls over the past few months. In July, Murray had an 18-point lead, but a Nov. 2 poll by the Moore Information Group shows the two candidates now in a dead heat.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.


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