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Election Preview: 10 Races with LGBT Candidates to Watch on November 4

BY LISA KEEN

MapThis year’s election night is likely to be an important one for the LGBT history books: Voters in Massachusetts are expected to elect the nation’s first-ever openly gay state attorney general, and voters in Maine could very well elect the nation’s first-ever openly gay governor. Two candidates for Congress could well become the first openly gay Republican elected to the U.S. House and, if they both succeed, they will join what will number as the largest ever contingent of openly LGBT members of Congress—up from seven to as many as 12, if all newcomers are successful.

Add to this mix a large number of openly LGBT candidates around the country for various state and local offices.

These are the top 10 races to keep an eye on November 4:

Michaud1. Maine: U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud (pictured) is holding onto a narrow lead over incumbent Republican Paul LePage and progressive independent Eliot Cutler in a race for the governorship. If he’s successful, Michaud will become the first ever openly gay person elected governor. Collectively, the latest polls (see RealClearPolitics) show a virtual tie between Michaud and LePage, with Cutler siphoning off 16 points. But interestingly, the latest poll, from Bangor Daily News, showed Michaud up by six points over LePage. (Former New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevey came out as gay in 2004 while governor, then promptly resigned.) Michaud came out as gay one year ago in an op-ed, saying he didn’t want his campaign for governor to be undermined by “whisper campaigns.”

Healey2. Massachusetts: Attorney Maura Healey (pictured), a first-time candidate, won a stunning victory in the September primary against a well-entrenched incumbent Democrat –even pro-LGBT Governor Deval Patrick endorsed the incumbent. But Healey trounced former state Senator Warren Tolman by more than 24 points. She is largely expected to do the same with the Republican Party’s nominee John Miller. And, if successful, Healey will become the nation’s first openly gay person elected as a state attorney general. She is best known in the LGBT community for her work as assistant attorney general on the Massachusetts challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act, a lawsuit complementary to one led by Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders.

Moulton3. Massachusetts: Former state Senator Richard Tisei almost made history two years ago when he narrowly missed becoming the first openly gay Republican to be elected to Congress. He’s back this year, seeking the same seat, and he’s holding onto a slight lead in some polls. The Democratic incumbent was the surprising loser in the September primary, so Tisei’s competition is Iraq War veteran Seth Moulton (pictured), the Democrat. LGBT newspaper publisher Sue O’Connell is backing Tisei; former U.S. Rep. Barney Frank is backing Moulton. Congress has had gay Republicans before –Steve Gunderson and Jim Kolbe. If elected, Tisei would become the first openly gay Republican elected to Congress.

Demaio4. California: Carl DeMaio (pictured) is the second person vying to become the first openly gay Republican elected to Congress, but his effort has been lost traction –first, by failing to win the support of the LGBT community, and, second, by being waylaid by a former campaign aide’s claim that DeMaio sexually harassed him. (San Diego County prosecutors announced just this week that they would not be pressing charges.) DeMaio, a former member of the San Diego City Council, is up against incumbent Democrat Scott Peters who has won endorsement from the Human Rights Campaign. Congressional District 52 is said to be evenly split between Democrats and Republicans. The latest poll, in early October, showed DeMaio with a three-point lead.

Maloney5. New York: First-term U.S. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY18, pictured) is in a tough fight for re-election against a Republican opponent he beat two years ago. Maloney won his first-term by defeating incumbent Republican Nan Hayworth, who’s back for another round. Hayworth earned only a 71 rating from HRC in her one Congressional term.

C_aiken6. North Carolina: American Idol star Clay Aiken (pictured), a Democrat, is struggling to replace incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers, who represents the 2nd Congressional District in North Carolina, and earned a zero rating from HRC for two terms. Aiken has done well in fundraising from individuals, while Ellmers has relied on party funding, but polls still show Ellmers with a sizeable lead.

Eldridge7. New York: Sean Eldridge (pictured) is making an uphill climb to become a member of the LGBT Congressional Caucus representing New York’s Hudson Valley district (No. 19). His opponent is two-term Republican Chris Gibson. Eldridge, the spouse of Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes, has been criticized repeatedly for using the couple’s personal wealth to fund his campaign, while little mention is made that Gibson’s campaign depends primarily on finance, insurance, and investment entities. Eldridge is, of course, pro-gay marriage; Gibson supports only civil unions, claiming that marriage is a religious institution. He earned a 76 rating from HRC in the last Congressional session and a zero in his first term. The Eldridge camp released a poll Tuesday showing that he had closed a 28-point lead by Gibson in September to 10 points as of October 19.

Kuehl8. California: Former State Senator Sheila Kuehl (pictured) is in a tight race against Bobby Shriver, a nephew of the late President Kennedy, for the District 3 seat on the powerful Los Angeles County Board. Despite her long history with the LGBT community, Kuehl is struggling to keep up with Shriver, who has raised twice the cash she has and won the backing of gay media mogul David Geffen. But she did win the most votes in the June primary. And if elected to the seat, she would become the first openly gay person to serve on the Board.

Pankey9. Idaho: In a little publicized effort, third party openly gay candidate Steve Pankey is running for governor in Idaho. His chances are slim to none: He won only 13 percent of the vote in his 2010 race for lieutenant governor. The Idaho Statesman reported recently that he and two other candidates were splitting 12 percent in the polls. But Pankey was rejected by his own party –the Constitution Party—after he came out in support of marriage equality. Idaho is currently still fighting to defend its state marriage ban in federal court.

Catania10. Washington, D.C.: Popular D.C. Councilman David Catania is mounting a strong campaign to become the capitol city’s first openly gay mayor. Catania has been haunted somewhat by the fact that he was a Republican in the heavily Democratic city. But he switched to independent 10 years ago after a long-standing dispute with the Republicans over their anti-gay policies. Catania has earned a good reputation in his 17 years on the Council, but his effort may be hurt by the independent campaign of another former Republican Councilmember Carol Schwartz. And both Catania and Schwartz are up against the African American Democrat Muriel Bowser, who won the endorsement of the local gay Democratic club.

© copyright 2014 by Keen News Service. All rights reserved.


Clay Aiken Fights For First Place During NC Second District Debate: VIDEO

Aiken

Good ole' Clay Aiken! The openly gay American Idol runner-up fought his way through a debate Monday night with North Carolina second district representative (and opponent) Renee Ellmers. Ellmers has reportedly attempted to tie together Aiken and President Obama's beliefs in an attempt to win her congressional seat once again this November, but Aiken was not having it. 

ABC News reports:

“This Obama-Aiken economy is just killing us,” Ellmers said.

“You might need to get a new writer because calling it the Obama-Aiken economy is just preposterous,” Aiken responded.

According to Talking Points Memo, Aiken recently spoke with The New York Times about the very same topic, stating that there are "certainly areas where I disagree with [Obama]." Still, Ellmers kept digging, this time alluding to Aiken's vocal prowess and showmanship while discussing the U.S. military.

“It's almost as if as an entertainer, you believe that you can just go in with a song and dance and change the mind of the military leaders,” she said.

Aiken's priceless retort?

“The most embarrassing reality show in the country right now is Congress,” he said.

Good on you, Mr. Aiken!

Let's just hope that his pseudo-fame can make a difference. According to past elections, he has an uphill battle: President Obama lost there by over 10 percentage points in both 2008 and 2012.

Check out news coverage of the debate, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Clay Aiken Fights For First Place During NC Second District Debate: VIDEO" »


Thursday Speed Read: NOM, Oregon, UCC, DeMaio, Kuehl, Utah, Aiken

BY LISA KEEN / Keen News Service

KennedySUPREME COURT SAYS NO TO NOM:

The U.S. Supreme Court Wednesday denied a request to stop same-sex couples in Oregon from marrying. The request came from the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) and was directed to Justice Anthony Kennedy, who handles motions from the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. The one-sentence order Wednesday noted that Kennedy referred the matter to the full court. NOM had sought a stay of a May 19 federal district court ruling declaring Oregon’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. NOM had also asked the federal district court for the right to serve as intervenor in a case to defend the state ban after the governor and attorney general made clear they would not. NOM said Wednesday it would continue pressing its appeal for intervenor status to the Ninth Circuit.

UccUCC LAWSUIT GAINS ALLIES:

Three more religious groups joined the United Church of Christ’s lawsuit in North Carolina this week. The Central Conference of American Rabbis (2,000 rabbis), the Alliance of Baptists (130 congregations), and the Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists (90 congregations) signed on as plaintiffs in UCC v. Cooper, arguing that the state ban on same-sex couples marrying violates the free exercise of religion for clergy who conduct ceremonies for same-sex couples. On May 27, North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper asked the U.S. District Court for Western North Carolina to delay hearing the case until after the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals rules on a case against a similar ban in Virginia.

DemaioDEMAIO ADVANCES IN HIS PRIMARY:

Openly gay Republican Congressional candidate Carl DeMaio advanced in his primary Tuesday in San Diego. DeMaio came in second behind incumbent U.S. Rep. Scott Peters, a Democrat, but in California’s primaries, the top two vote getters proceed to the November ballot. DeMaio received 36 percent of the vote, compared to Peters’ 42 percent, but he handily beat out two other Republicans who garnered a combined 22 percent.

KUEHL IN RUNOFF WITH SHRIVER:

KuehlOpenly gay California Assemblywoman Sheila Kuehl was the top vote-getter in Tuesday’s primary for a seat on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. She will face second place Bobby Shriver on the November ballot. Kuehl earned 36 percent of the votes in the eight-candidate race, followed by Shriver with 29 percent, and openly gay former West Hollywood Councilman John Duran with 16 percent. No one’s called the race for state controller yet, but it appears openly gay former California Assembly Speaker John Perez may have secured a spot on the November ballot. Perez appears to have come in second behind Republican Ashley Swearengin.

UtahUTAH APPEALS RECOGNITION ORDER:

As expected, the attorney general of Utah filed notice Wednesday that the state will appeal a May 19 federal district court judge’s preliminary injunction requiring that Utah recognize the marriages of an estimated 1,300 same-sex couples that took place before a U.S. Supreme Court issued a stay in another district court judge’s decision striking down the state’s ban. Judge Dale Kimball (a Clinton appointee) delayed his order 21 days to give the state time to appeal his injunction in Evans v. Utah to the Tenth Circuit. A Tenth Circuit panel has already heard arguments in Kitchen v. Herbert, which challenges the state’s ban on same-sex couples marrying.

AikenCLAY AIKEN BLAMES PRESIDENT:

Openly gay Congressional candidate Clay Aiken of North Carolina said in a recent interview with CNN that the buck stops with President Obama on the Veterans Administration’s failure to provide medical care to veterans in a timely fashion.

© 2014 Keen News Service. All rights reserved.


Clay Aiken Wins Democratic Congressional Primary in North Carolina

American Idol runner-up Clay Aiken has won the hotly contested Democratic primary in for the 2nd Congressional District seat in North Carolina, the AP reports:

Clay aikenAiken will face Republican incumbent Renee Ellmers in November in the GOP-leaning district where Mitt Romney won nearly six in 10 votes in 2012. Ellmers won by 56 percent that year and is looking for a third term. The county-by-county tally of the 2nd Congressional District race posted by the state Tuesday confirmed Aiken got more than 40 percent of the vote needed to win the three-candidate race.

Aiken suspended his campaign Monday following news that second-place finisher Keith Crisco, 71, died suddenly after falling at his home.


Keith Crisco, Clay Aiken's Opponent in NC Congressional Primary, Dies Suddenly

Keith Crisco, who was locked in a North Carolina congressional race with Clay Aiken died at his home on Monday, WGHP reports:

CriscoReports suggest he suffered injuries from a fall at his home on Thayer Drive in Asheboro around 1 p.m. Monday. Crisco was dead when emergency services arrived at the scene, City Manager John Ogburn confirmed.

The District 2 race was considered “too close to call,” but Aiken lead Crisco by 369 votes.

Crisco released a statement on Wednesday saying he was not yet ready to concede.

“This election is still very tight,” he said. “I want the elections’ officials to have an opportunity to tally the votes and provide a report on their canvass activities to allow all the campaigns a chance to see the final numbers. This has been a great campaign and I am very appreciative of my supporters and the hard work that the county boards of elections are doing at this time.”

The NC GOP released a statement:

“We are incredibly shocked and saddened to hear about Keith Crisco’s sudden passing. Keith was an accomplished businessman and public servant with a sterling reputation and a tremendous amount of respect from North Carolinians across the partisan spectrum. Keith, like my father, served the state as Commerce Secretary with dignity and humility, and also like my father, passed away well before his time. Keith’s family is in our thoughts and prayers during this very difficult time.”

UPDATE: Aiken released a statement:

"I am stunned and deeply saddened by Keith Crisco's death. Keith came from humble beginnings. No matter how high he rose  to Harvard, to the White House and to the Governor's Cabinet  he never forgot where he came from. He was a gentleman, a good and honorable man and an extraordinary public servant. I was honored to know him. I am suspending all campaign activities as we pray for his family and friends."


Friday Speed Read: Darrin Gayles, Indiana Marriage, Mike Michaud, Clay Aiken

GaylesNOMINEE ADVANCES OUT OF COMMITTEE:

The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, by voice vote, recommended the confirmation of openly gay federal district court nominee Darrin Gayles. A vote on the nomination had been scheduled for last week, but Republicans on the committee held over the vote on Gayles’ nomination and that of three others to the district court in southern Florida. Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) noted Thursday that both senators from Florida have given their consent to advancing all four nominees. The nomination of a previous openly gay African American man to the federal bench in Miami was killed when Senator Marco Rubio raised objections. If cleared by the full Senate, Gayles will be the first openly gay African American male to be confirmed to a federal bench seat.

INDIANA PRELIMINARY VICTORY: Sandler

A federal district court judge ruled Thursday that Indiana’s ban on recognizing same-sex marriages harms a same-sex couple “in numerous tangible and intangible ways.” In doing so, Judge Richard Young ordered the state to recognize the marriage license obtained out of state by Niki Quasney and Amy Sandler to protect Sandler’s rights to care Quasney, who is near death from ovarian cancer. The order also requires Indiana, upon Quasney’s death, to list Sandler as her spouse on the death certificate. Young ruled that he doubts Indiana’s ban “will suffer a different fate than those around the country,” where other federal district courts have consistently found them unconstitutional. Last month, Judge Young granted a temporary restraining order requiring Indiana to recognize the Quasney-Sandler marriage license obtained in Massachusetts. Lambda Legal brought the case, Baskin v. Bogan, on behalf of several couples and the court must still consider the merits of the overall challenge to the state’s ban. Lambda staff attorney Paul Castillo, said that, “while this family is experiencing urgent, life-threatening medical circumstances, they’re just one of the thousands of same-sex couples in Indiana enduring real financial and dignitary harm due to the State’s discriminatory marriage ban. Our work in Indiana is not done.  All same-sex couples in Indiana need the security only marriage provides.”

DEM POLL SHOWS MICHAUD BACK IN LEAD: Michaud

Democracy for America, a group founded by former Vermont Governor Howard Dean, announced Thursday that its poll of 754 Maine voters finds openly gay U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud four points ahead of incumbent Republican Governor Paul LePage. Asked who they would vote for if the election were held today, 43 percent said Michaud, 39 percent said LePage, 15 percent said independent candidate Eliot Cutler, and three percent were undecided. Michaud and LePage have been running very close in polls in the past month. A Republican-leaning polling firm, Rasmussen Reports, called the race a tie based on data it gathered between April 23 and 25 from 830 “likely voters.” A Huffington Post analysis of 10 polls (but not the Democracy for America data) estimated Michaud at 40.6 percent, LePage at 37.9 percent, Cutler at 15.9 percent.

C_aikenAIKEN MAY FACE RUN-OFF:

There are 276 uncounted ballots in openly gay U.S. House candidate Clay Aiken’s Democratic primary race against two competitors in North Carolina’s Congressional District 2. That doesn’t give second-place candidate Keith Crisco a chance to catch up to Aiken, who has a 369-vote lead. But it could give him enough to drop Aiken’s vote tally below the 40 percent margin needed to avoid a run-off. And the Raleigh News-Observer reported Thursday that business Keith Crisco has not conceded the race and that, if a run-off is necessary, it will take place in July.

© copyright 2014 by Keen News Service. All rights reserved.


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