Gay Democrats Andy Staton and Marie Mayor lost their bids to become the first openly gay candidates elected to the Delaware Legislature on Tuesday in districts where large numbers of LGBT people live.
Staton, a real estate agent in the popular gay beach resort town of Rehoboth Beach, ran for a seat in the Delaware Senate in a newly created district that included Rehoboth Beach and the nearby towns of Lewes, Dewey Beach and Milton.
Supporters believed Staton had a good chance of winning in the majority Democratic district, which was viewed as being more progressive-leaning than surrounding parts of Republican dominated Sussex County.
Final but unofficial returns from the Delaware Board of Elections show Staton received 42.7 percent of the vote compared to Republican challenger Ernesto Lopez, who received 56.1 percent. Libertarian candidate Gwendolyn Jones received 1.2 percent.
In a nearby district, lesbian businesswoman Marie Mayor was believed to have a shot at winning a seat in the Delaware House of Representatives in a district in Milton. Mayor received 46.8 percent of the vote, losing to Republican Stephen Smyk, who received 53.2 percent.
When asked why Staton and Mayor fell short of predictions by some that they were poised to win their races, gay Democratic activist Peter Schott, an official with Stonewall Democrats of Delaware, said: “It’s very simple. The whole county has become increasingly more Republican.”
Staton, who couldn’t immediately be reached for comment, told the Blade last week that he was optimistic about his prospects for winning.
“People are responding overwhelmingly,” he said, referring to his campaign’s TV ads.
Delaware Gov. Jack Markell, state Attorney General Beau Biden, U.S. Sens. Chris Coons and Tom Carper were among the big name elected officials that endorsed Staton.