Despite a huge surge in conservative Gary Bauer's public profile brought on by his bid for the presidency, Bauer would not be welcomed back by some at the Family Research Council (FRC), which he led for many years. Some critics cite an organizational confusion Bauer left behind. Others, more sympathetic to Bauer, demur on his return because they believe his Republican identity would clash with the nonprofit organization's nonpartisan stance.

Bauer started his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination one year ago. Before that he led the Family Research Council for more than ten years, taking it from a three-person, $1 million operation to a 120-person, $14 million operation. Before joining FRC, he served as President Reagan's assistant for policy development. Pushed into a last place finish in New Hampshire, Bauer dropped out of the Republican Presidential race Friday.

Bauer knew that going back to the FRC wouldn't be welcomed by many. In a late fall internal survey, more than 60 percent of the staffers at the prominent religious right organization answered that somebody with a politically partisan high profile should not become its leader. Staffers interviewed by CT say that most people took this to mean that Gary Bauer shouldn't come back as president of the Family Research Council.

The most common reason cited for wariness of any Bauer return is to avoid the appearance of favoring the Republicans over the Democrats. "This was a concern of all," said Bob Morrison, a senior staff member at FRC. "We have to work with both parties." Suggestions of other high profile Republicans like Sen. Dan Coates (R-Indiana) as possible leaders of the policy group have also come under the same criticism. Democrats at FRC say that that the appointment of a high-profile Republican as president of FRC would ignore the high sacrifices the staffers have made in order to be prolife. "We have virtually been driven out of the Democratic Party," said one. Acting President Chuck Donovan is also a Democrat.

The two-page questionnaire given to all staff members originated in board members' concerns for the future of the organization—especially in light of a drop in revenues and program cutbacks. For now, FRC has a two-headed system, with Chuck Donovan as acting president and Janet Parshall as spokeswoman. Many feel that this leadership arrangement has caused a lack of focus at the organization, although other staffers cite the tentativeness of the arrangement as the true problem.

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Staffers' feelings toward Bauer may have been influenced by timing: the questionnaire was sent to them soon after several campaign aides charged Bauer with ill-advised private meetings with a 27-year old female campaign aide. In October, campaign manager Charles Jarvis and almost half of the campaign staff left Bauer over the charges of impropriety. Several FRC staffers say that they were deeply disturbed by Bauer's behavior, which was unlike what he practiced while at their organization. As a result of the controversy, Bauer replaced the solid wooden door to his office with one containing a glass window.

At his press conference last Friday announcing his withdrawal from the Republican presidential primary race, Bauer seemed to indicate future plans that didn't include returning to his old organization. Rather, he said he wanted to remain active in the political arena. He has also said he might form a new organization. He may not be able to go back to his old one.Tony Carnes is Senior News Writer for Christianity Today.

Related Elsewhere

The Bauer for President Web site hasn't been updated since early January.

See coverage of Bauer's withdrawal from the 2000 presidential race in The Washington Post,

The New York Times (which also offers a resource area about the former candidate),

C-SPAN, The Associated Press, and CNN's"

To be candid, Bauer's political views and ours don't match in very many places, and in that regard we're not particularly sorry to see him drop out of the race," editorialized The Cincinnati Post. "

But he ran an honorable campaign, and his candor, his energy and genuine decency commend his example to people of all political persuasions."

The Family Research Council's Web site offers audio commentaries on current events, public policy statements, press releases, and similar resources.See our past coverage of the Bauer campaign:Conservatives Voice Support for Bauer (Nov. 15, 1999) An Open-Door Policy | Is meeting alone with a member of the opposite sex dangerous? Is taking steps against it sexist? (Nov. 11, 1999) Republican Candidates Court Conservatives Early, Often (Apr. 4, 1999)

See also our coverage of the dispute between the Bauer campaign and a sex columnist in yesterday's Weblog (third item).