This 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. Following is a look at the Top 10 races to keep an eye on November 4:
U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud 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.”
Attorney Maura Healey, 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.
Healey 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.
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, 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.
Carl DeMaio 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 last week that they would not be pressing charges against DeMaio.)
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.
5. New York
First-term U.S. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.) 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.