Did sexual harassment claims cost gay Republican Carl DeMaio an election victory?

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A spokesperson for Republican Carl DeMaio has claimed that allegations of sexual harassment against the candidate contributed to his narrow election defeat.

Mr DeMaio, who was challenging incumbent Democrat Scott Peters in California’s 52nd District, had been tipped to become the first openly gay Republican in the House of Representatives.

However his campaign was plagued by scandal, Mr DeMaio was accused of acting inappropriately towards 28-year-old former staffer Todd Bosnich.

Mr Bosnich, who worked for DeMaio’s campaign last year, alleges that the candidate had masturbated in front of him, groped him, and kissed his neck.

A 25-year-old Navy veteran, Justin Harper, also came forward this week to allege that Mr DeMaio had approached him in the toilets.

Despite an early lead in the polls for DeMaio, the race was too close to call – with counting dragging on for 72 hours before AP projected a narrow win for the incumbent Peters.

Mr DeMaio finally conceded the race last night, saying: “It’s clear that we are falling short in the vote counts and I wish Mr Peters the best because I care so much about the interests of San Diego.

“I’m incredibly proud of the inclusive and diverse campaign coalition that we forged and I remain committed to challenging the Republican Party to become more inclusive and more positive in its efforts to build a governing majority.”

However, he accused his opponent of making political capital out of the harassment claims, adding: “Given the evidence that is emerging and is likely to emerge in coming weeks and days, Mr Peters has significant, serious questions that he must answer.”

Mr DeMaio’s comms director Dave McCulloch told AP that the allegations created an “ick factor”, contributing to “massive attrition and erosion” in the party’s older, conservative base voters.