By Mary Connell, Special to Riptide
An influential Northern California Democrat is the lone voice defending Kansas Congressman Kevin Yoder's nude plunge into the Sea of Galilee during an official junket to Israel last year.
Since word of Yoder's naked swim in the inland sea best known as the site of two of Jesus' "walking on water" miracles, fellow lawmakers have been pressuring Yoder to step down or suffer the consequences. In an election year, the last thing they want to do is rile religious conservatives.
Mitt Romney, the GOP's presumptive presidential nominee, called Yoder's act "disgraceful" during a campaign stop in Ohio's Bible Belt on Tuesday.
But the 36-year-old first-term congressman has a defender in Gary Hanauer, a public relations man, nude sunbather, and Democratic campaign strategist. Hanauer is also the author of the San Francisco Bay Guardian's 38th annual Nude Beaches of Northern California, a guide for those without cellulite.
"Yoder did what nearly every human being on the face of the earth wants to do -- swim buck naked," said Hanauer, who has managed several San Francisco Bay Area political campaigns, including the last two races of Marin County Supervisor Steve Kinsey. The supervisor, who is a nude swimmer, has threatened to sue the U.S. Department of the Interior unless the National Park Service agrees to divert water away from a canyon in his district to supply Hagmaier Pond, a waterway frequented by nude swimmers and sunbathers.
Hanauer is also researching a new book, This Land Is Your Land: A Guide to Skinny-Dipping Through the Holy Land, due to be published in November 2013.