The odds that Paul Babeu's recently announced sexuality will not derail his congressional aspirations appear to be improving.

Many political observers declared Babeu's campaign for Arizona's 4th Congressional District to be on life support after the 43-year-old conservative sheriff of Pinal County acknowledged last week that he's gay in the course of denying charges that he threatened to have his former partner deported.

Since coming out, Babeu has also endorsed gay marriage.

If elected, Babeu, who previous to the allegations surfacing was leading his GOP rival for the nomination, would become the lone openly gay Republican in Congress.

According to the Arizona Daily Star, Republicans gathering at a Yavapai Tea Party meeting were not ready to write off Babeu.

“I care less. I just care less. Don't preach it on me. Don't push it on me and, by golly, I respect your rights,” said Bill Halpin, who serves on the local tea party board.

Others said they were disappointed with Babeu but added they were hesitant to drop him.

“I have many, many, many friends in my life that are gay,” Mona Patton, 60, said. “And I don't have issues with it. But, you know, it's a hurdle for a lot of people, and it's, I think a shame. … I think he's going to have a hard row to hoe.”

Babeu's campaign said Friday that $17,000 in political donations had been received since Babeu's February 18 announcement.