Openly Gay Candidates: Some Surprise Victories in 164 Races
The results for some high profile openly gay candidates are often mixed, and they were Tuesday night-with nine of eighteen openly LGBT candidates winning. But there was one big surprise Tuesday night and one shining star and, overall, the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund reported that 106 of the 164 openly gay candidates running Tuesday won their races.
The big surprise came in Lexington, Kentucky, where openly gay construction company executive Jim Gray won election as mayor. The Lexington Herald-Leader reported the news shortly after the polls closed at 6 p.m. Gray has been serving as the city's vice mayor and defeated incumbent mayor Jim Newberry. The paper said the campaign has been one of the most expensive in the city's history and only the second time in history that a sitting mayor has been defeated. The ballot in Lexington does not indicate party affiliation. According to results published by the Herald-Leader, Gray won with 53 percent of the vote, to Mayor Jim Newberry's 46 percent. The Herald-Leader noted that Gray lost a bid for mayor in 2002, when his sexual orientation was not public. Gray came out before running successfully for an at-large seat on the Urban County Council.
In another southern state, North Carolina, openly gay candidate Marcus Brandon of High Point won his first- time run for state representative and, in doing so, becomes the state's first openly gay legislator in the state. According to the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, Brandon also becomes only the fifth openly gay African- American to a state legislature anywhere in the country. As of 10:30 Tuesday night, three hours after polls closed, the state Board of Elections showed Brandon with 70 percent of the vote, compared to Republican Lonnie Wilson. The race was to represent North Carolina's District 60, which encompasses Guilford County in the middle of the state. Brandon told the News-Record newspaper of Greensboro that his sexual orientation was not a secret but that "This is not something I wanted to take over my campaign."
"Nobody in a year-and-a-half ever asked me about my sexuality," Brandon said, in an October 15 blog by an editorial writer in which the paper noted his race was one of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund's "Ten Races to Watch" this year.
Laurie Jinkins has won her bid to the Washington State House, and becomes its first openly lesbian state lawmaker. Another lesbian, Nickie Antonio, won an unopposed race for the Ohio state house, making her that state's first openly gay state legislator.
U.S. Rep. Barney Frank won re-election to a 16th term as Massachusetts Congressman from the 4th District. Frank won against an aggressive Republican challenger, Sean Bielat, who had a surge of out-of-state funding in the final days of the campaign to fuel a flood of campaign literature and robo-calls. While Frank's re- election was considered predictable, the margin of victory represents a significant drop in support for Frank. Frank garnered only 54 percent of the vote Tuesday, dropping well below his previous lowest re- election take of 68 percent in 2008. The returns almost guarantee an even tougher re-match against Bielat in 2012.
U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.) won re-election to a seventh term with 62 percent of the vote, down just a few points from her previous re-election margin. U.S. Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) won a second term with 56 percent of the vote.
Providence, Rhode Island's openly gay mayor, David Cicilline, won his bid to represent the 1st Congressional District in the U.S. House. The win will make him the fourth openly gay member of the Congress. With all precincts counted, Cicilline had secured 50.6 percent of the vote, compared to Republican John Loughlin's 44.5 percent, and 4.9 percent for two other candidates.
In Connecticut, openly gay health care advocate Kevin Lembo appears to have won his race for the state comptroller's seat, taking 52 percent of the vote to Republican Jack Orchulli's 44 percent. The win makes Lembo the only openly gay candidates to win a statewide race Tuesday night.
And Victoria Kolakowski appears to have won election as a judge on the Superior Court of Alameda County, California, becoming the first transgender trial court judge in the country.
But there were losses, too.
Two openly gay candidates lost their bids for seats in the U.S. House. Democrat Ed Potosnak, a teacher and businessman, lost his bid to unseat Republican incumbent Leonard Lance in New Jersey's 7th Congressional district. Potosnak had been given very little chance of winning in his first run, but still pulled in 40 percent of the vote. And Steve Poughnet, the openly gay mayor of Palm Springs, California, garnered 40 percent in his first run for Congress against incumbent Republican Mary Bono Mack.
Two openly gay candidates for lieutenant governor lost as the head of their tickets fell to defeat. Steve Howard lost as the number two person on the Democratic ticket in Vermont. And Richard Tisei lost as part of the Republican ticket in Massachusetts, where incumbent Democratic governor Deval Patrick won re-election with 49 percent of the race, against Republican Charlie Baker's 42 percent, and Independent Tim Cahill's 8.
And openly gay Republican Ken Rosen appears to have lost his bid to represent Michigan's 26th District in the state house. At 11:23 Tuesday night, early results showed Rosen with 44 percent of the vote, trailing Democrat Jim Townsend who has 53 percent.