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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.


Anti-Gay Groups Launch 'Unprecedented' Campaign Against Pro-LGBT Republican Candidates: READ

Pro-lgbt gop

Anti-gay activist groups The National Organization for Marriage (NOM), Family Research Council Action and CitizenLink are launching “an unprecedented campaign” against three Republican candidates because of their support for marriage equality and abortion, reports Buzzfeed.

Family Research Council Action is the legislative arm of rabidly homophobic listed hate group Family Research Council.

Last month, NOM cofounder Robert George said that he couldn't think of any "logical stopping place" between gay-affirming Christians and pedophile-affirming or serial killer-affirming Christians.

The three ultra-conservative groups “will mount a concerted effort to urge voters to refuse to cast ballots” for Republican House candidates Carl DeMaio [top left] in California, Richard Tisei [middle] in Massachusetts and Republican Senate candidate Monica Wehby [right] in Oregon. DeMaio and Tisei are the only out LGBT Republican federal candidates from the to appear on the ballot this fall.

A letter  - claiming to speak on behalf of all Americans and possibly suggesting a gay recruitment drive - sent to Republican congressional and campaign leaders yesterday reads in part:

“We cannot in good conscience urge our members and fellow citizens to support candidates like DeMaio, Tisei or Wehby. They are wrong on critical, foundational issues of importance to the American people.

Worse, as occupants of high office they will secure a platform in the media to advance their flawed ideology and serve as terrible role models for young people who will inevitably be encouraged to emulate them.”

The letter goes on to warn Republican leaders that it is a “grave error” for the party to support “candidates who do not hold core Republican beliefs and, in fact, are working to actively alienate the Republican base.”

In a statement, NOM President Brian S. Brown said:

Brown“The Republican Party platform is a ‘statement of who we are and what we believe.’ Thus, the platform supports the truth of marriage as the union of husband and wife, and recognizes the sanctity and dignity of human life.

“We cannot sit by when people calling themselves Republicans seek high office while espousing positions that are antithetical to the overwhelming majority of Republicans.”

Read the letter, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Anti-Gay Groups Launch 'Unprecedented' Campaign Against Pro-LGBT Republican Candidates: READ" »


Barney Frank: Don't Vote For Gay Republican Congressional Candidate Richard Tisei

Former Rep. Barney Frank has weighed in on one of 2014's tightest congressional races, that of his state Massachusetts' sixth district. 

1019_tierney-tisei-620x456It's a headline grabber — incumbent Rep. John Tierney (D-Mass.) versus Republican challenger Richard Tisei. While Rep. Tierney has been a staunch advocate of LGBT rights, Tisei may be poised to snatch votes from him. Rep. Tierney is staight, and Tisei is openly gay. If elected, Tisei would be the first openly gay Republican elected to Congress.

If this story sounds familiar to you, you're not wrong. Two years ago, the same two candidates were squaring off in the same district. That time around, the race wrapped up tight — Tierney's 48% to Tisei's 47. 

This year, things could shake out differently. In February, Tisei was endorsed by the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, leading to a bump in his polling data.

Wednesday evening, former Rep. Frank assembled a group of LGBT donors on Capitol Hill to discuss the congressional race and voice support for the incumbent Tierney.

6a00d8341c730253ef017d3e260216970c-250wiWhile the donors acknowledge allure in the idea that a gay Republican who could shake up the party, many suggest that this is not realistic — that it's more important to reduce the influence of Republican leader and LGBT rights opponent Rep John Boehner (R-Ohio).

Former Rep. Frank expands on the core reasons to not elect Tisei:

"I do believe it is very important to support gay and lesbian candidates. But the notion that we will tell an incumbent who has been absolutely perfect on gay, lesbian, bisexual [and] transgender issues — absolutely perfect — that perfection will do no good because he has sex with the wrong person, [that] is the antithesis of what we should be fighting for."

Concise and whip-smart as ever, but that's Barney Frank for you.

Frank's sentiment is echoed by the incumbent Rep. Tierney. While he would like to have more pro-gay Republcans in Congress, Tierney points out that electing them in the current political climate would have little effect.

"[Pro-gay Republicans aren't] allowed to even vote on the matter [of LGBT rights]. They don't get an opportunity. So you need to change the majority to have the matter brought up," he said. "We have currently a Congress that is going nowhere, slowly, under John Boehner."

[h/t HuffPo]


Gay Congressional Hopeful Richard Tisei Boycotting GOP Convention Over Anti-Gay Platform

Gay Republican Richard Tisei, who is running for Congress and was the GOP’s nominee for Massachusetts lieutenant governor in 2010, says he's sitting out the state GOP convention because its platform is anti-gay, the Boston Globe reports:

Tisei“I don’t want to go and be seen in any way to be endorsing that,” said Tisei, who is gay and who got married last summer. “I don’t really feel comfortable being at a convention where the platform takes the party backward, rather than forward, as far as appealing to a large group of Massachusetts voters.”

The platform that was overwhelmingly approved by state committee members frowns on abortion and gay marriage, social issues that the GOP in Massachusetts had previously avoided addressing, for fear of alienating the state’s many liberal and libertarian-minded voters.


Social Conservatives Threaten To Pull Support From MA GOP Gubernatorial Candidate Over Running Mate's Stance On Gay Marriage

Polito

Massachusetts Republican gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker is facing heat from social conservatives within his own party after his running mate, Karyn Polito, endorsed gay marriage this week. The Boston Globe reports that though Polito had originally agreed to moderate her stance on gay marriage by saying she would "not work to undo the progress achieved over the last decade,” in essence taking a play out of Mitt Romney's handbook, who in his 1994 run for Teddy Kennedy's senate seat "described himself as 'personally opposed' to abortion, but promised not to challenge existing abortion law," that more pacifistic plan went out the window after Baker and Polito announced their ticket:

BakerThe issue quickly came to a head after Baker and Polito appeared at a Shrewsbury diner to announce their ticket on Tuesday. A Globe reporter then inquired of a Baker campaign aide about Polito's position on gay marriage. The aide, who did not want to be quoted, replied that Polito favored the current gay marriage law.

In an e-mail exchange, the Globe asked whether it would be fair to say she favored gay marriage, and the aide replied that it would. That exchange was reflected in a Globe article Wednesday.

That clear-cut declaration eliminated the carefully designed nuance and set off a firestorm within social conservative circles, where Polito has been very popular.

Conservative activists, who oppose Baker’s socially liberal views on gay marriage and abortion, had been ready to support him for his fiscal conservatism and out of a desire to wrest control of the corner office from Democrats.

Social conservatives in the party are now urging their "ideological colleagues" to switch their support to Baker's only Republican challenger at this time, Mark Fisher.

Baker previously ran for governor in 2010 against current incumbent Deval Patrick, who has said he would retire after 2014. Baker also drew the ire of some Republicans for choosing Richard Tisei, a gay, pro-choice candidate as his running mate in 2010. Earlier this year the Baker campaign distributed a flier at the state's GOP convention that voiced opposition to a proposed "transgender rights" bill co-sponsored by Tisei, prompting speculation Baker was eager to win back social conservatives. Baker's response?

“'I think a guy who supports gay marriage and is pro-choice and has been pretty clear on those and picked a gay fella as his running mate is pretty much not pandering to much of anybody,' he said, placing a hand on Tisei's shoulder."


Rep. Randy Forbes (R-VA) Crusading Against Gay Republican Candidates

Politico reports this morning on conflict within the Republican party over backing openly gay candidates, specifically a campaign by Virginia Rep. Randy Forbes (pictured) to block the funding:

ForbesForbes has waged a lengthy crusade to convince his colleagues and the National Republican Congressional Committee brass they shouldn’t back some gay candidates. His efforts on Capitol Hill were described to POLITICO by more than a half-dozen sources with direct knowledge of the talks.

The issue is particularly acute because House Republicans have two promising openly gay candidates in 2014 vying for seats held by Democrats. Richard Tisei, who narrowly lost to Democratic Rep. John Tierney in 2012, is running again in northeastern Massachusetts. And in San Diego, Carl DeMaio, a former city councilman, is trying to knock off Democratic Rep. Scott Peters.

Towleroad obtained this statement from Log Cabin Republican Executive Director Gregory T. Angelo in response to the article:

"You either want Republicans to win, or you don't -- it's as simple as that. Apparently, Congressman Forbes does not. Thankfully, the real GOP leaders in the House know how to pick winners, and their money is on Richard Tisei and Carl DeMaio. Throwing solid conservative contenders under the bus in a cynical and hopeless attempt to gain a Chairmanship is beyond the pale; Congressman Forbes would do more to help his image by supporting efforts to grow the Republican House majority rather than undermine it."

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