A record number of opening gay and lesbian candidates are running for political office this election year, according to the Victory Fund which finances openly gay candidates, and many races tonight are being watched by the LGBT community not just because the candidates are gay, but because they are in states where legislation that affects LGBT rights are up for debate.
California voters have elected Democrat Jerry Brown as their new Governor, sending him back to the office he held 28 years ago.
Brown has been a supporter of same-sex marriage, and as Attorney General was named as a defendant in the federal trial challenging Proposition 8, which he declined to defend it in court. He defeats Meg Whitman, the former CEO of Ebay, who spent more than $140 million of her own money to finance her campaign.
Also in California, Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer has won a fourth term in the Senate, defeating Republican challenger Carly Fiorina, the former Hewlett-Packard chief executive.
All three Iowa Supreme Court justices up for retention have been ousted from the bench, as voters sided with conservative gay marriage opponents angered by the court’s ruling that allowed same-sex marriage. [Iowa Independent]
Chief Justice Marsha Ternus, Michael Streit and David Baker were on the court of 7 justices who decided last year that an Iowa law restricting marriage to one man and one woman violated the state’s constitution.
Also in Iowa, Republican Terry Branstad has defeated Democratic incumbent Chet Culver in his bid for re-election in the Governor’s race.
Kentucky: Jim Gray, first openly gay Mayor of Lexington
Voters in Lexington have elected the city’s first openly gay mayor, electing vice-mayor Jim Gray over incumbent mayor Jim Newberry.
Gray, 57, a construction company executive who has been Lexington’s vice mayor for four years, defeated Newberry, a 54-year-old attorney, by a solid 6-point margin. [Lexington Herald-Leader]
Democratic Representative Barney Frank, one of the most liberal U.S. lawmakers, has won re-election, beating Republican challenger Sean Bielat, who was backed by tea party groups. Frank is one of the most prominent LGBT politicians in the United States, and has served in the U.S. House since 1981.
Frank, 70, has been in the House of Representatives for three decades, and chaired the powerful House Financial Services Committee, which he is likely to lose due to the new Republican majority in the U.S. House of Representatives. [Reuters]
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, has defeated Tea Party-backed candidate Sharron Angle.
Reid, whose approval ratings in the state have floundered as unemployment, foreclosures, and bankruptcies in Nevada remained the worst in the nation, was nonetheless able to paint Angle as too extreme for the state. [MSNBC]
New York: LGBT supporters Gillibrand wins Senate race, Cuomo elected Governor
Gillibrand has been a vocal supporter for repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the military‘s ban on openly gay service members, calling it “an unfair, outdated measure that violates the civil rights of some of our bravest.”
Sen. Charles Schumer, the other Democratic incumbent, has also defeated his Republican challenger, Jay Townsend.
In the gubernatorial race, Democrat Andrew Cuomo has defeated Republican challenger, and tea party backed Carl Paladino.
Cuomo is a LGBT rights supporter who declared last month that he will work to legalize gay marriage in New York if elected.
Paladino came under fire during the campaign for saying he didn’t want his children “brainwashed into thinking that homosexuality” was an acceptable option, and criticized cuomo for attending a gay pride parade with his daughters, calling such events “disgusting.”
North Carolina: Marcus Brandon will be the only openly gay state legislator in NC
Marcus Brandon has been elected to the North Carolina House of Representatives, and will represent the cities of Greensboro and High Point in the state legislature.
Brandon will be the only openly LGBT state legislator in North Carolina, and one of just five openly LGBT African-Americans serving in state legislatures across the country. [Gay Politics]
Rhode Island: Cicilline wins bid for U.S. House
In the First District Congressional race, Democrat David Cicilline, the openly gay Mayor of Providence, has won his bid for the U.S. House, beating Republican John Loughlin to replace retiring Rep. Patrick Kennedy, D-R.I.
“Mayor Cicilline will be a strong advocate for all Rhode Islanders, but he will also be an authentic voice for the millions of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans who long for the day when we will be treated equally under law.” [Victory Fund]
Democratic Rep. Tammy Baldwin has cruised to victory over Republican challenger Chad Lee, to win her seventh term in the U.S. House.
Baldwin was the first woman from Wisconsin to serve in the House of Representatives and first openly gay person elected to Congress as a non-incumbent.
In the Senate race in Wisconsin, Democratic incumbent Sen. Russ Feingold was sent packing, defeated by Tea Party favorite, Republican Ron Johnson.