Nation to have full slate of out candidates

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Steve  Pougnet

Steve Pougnet is running for Congress in California. – Photo: Courtesy

The season is under way, with less than 200 days of play to go before the championships – the November mid-term elections.

There are players suiting up in red and blue, and a few stars have changed their game plans, including a big leaguer in Florida who has gone to free-agent status — Charlie Crist — and a veteran in Arizona who is trying to reshape his image — John McCain.

Among the rookies in play for U.S. House seats are two openly gay candidates. They’re part of a slate of 88 LGBT candidates endorsed so far by the Victory Fund in this election cycle. VF hopes ultimately to break its record of 111 endorsements.

At the local level, the Victory Fund is supporting candidates for judge, school board, auditor, recorder of deeds, city council, sheriff, county supervisor and county commission, county clerk, mayor, register of wills, treasurer and district attorney.

The fund has endorsed 46 candidates for state office, including two candidates for lieutenant governor – Richard Tisei in Massachusetts and Kevin Lembo in Connecticut.

At the state level, a Victory Fund goal is to have at least one openly LGBT legislator serving in each capitol. To that end, Dison, said, “primary races in Ohio and Louisiana will be very important.”

In Ohio, where the primary was taking place as WiG went to press, Nickie Antonio, a Democrat for a House seat, was campaigning to become the state’s first out lawmaker.

In Louisiana, Thomas Robichaux is campaigning for a House seat – and to be the first openly gay legislator elected in the state. His primary is in August.

At the federal level, the fund is supporting five out candidates. There are three incumbents – Wisconsin’s Tammy Baldwin, Colorado’s Jared Polis and Massachusetts’ Barney Frank. And there are two non-incumbent gay candidates for Congress – Palm Springs, Calif., Mayor Steve Pougnet, a Democrat challenging Bono Mack, and Providence, R.I., Mayor David Cicilline, a Democrat running for Patrick Kennedy’s seat.

“We of course … understand how important it will be to build our representation in Congress, and the election of Pougnet and Cicilline would take our numbers there from three to five openly LGBT members,” said Dison.

Cicilline faces former Rhode Island Democratic chairman Bill Lynch in the primary. State house minority whip John Loughlin is the likely Republican nominee.

“Having managed Providence for the past eight years, Mayor Cicilline knows what Congress needs to do to help cities emerge from a harsh recession and to put Americans back to work,” said VF president Chuck Wolfe.

“I’m running for Congress to take to Washington what I know about getting hard things done,” Cicilline said. “That’s what mayors do every day – solve difficult problems. We cut costs, resolve complex problems and look an impossible challenge in the eye and just figure it out.

“We know how to work across party lines and build coalitions to get things done. I intend to bring these critical skills and perspectives to Washington.”

California’s Pougnet decided to run for Congress after serving two years as a mayor and many years on the Palm Springs City Council. His campaign raised more than $300,000 in the first quarter of 2010 and to date has raised $850,000.

“The outpouring of support our campaign has received from people all across this district show just how much people here are looking for real, committed leadership,” Pougnet said.

The candidate has picked up endorsements from the California Teachers Association, California Nurses Association and the California State Federation of Labor.

“Voters have a clear choice in this election,” Pougnet said. “My opponent backs the very policies that drove our economy off a cliff, supporting Wall Street and the insurance industry, rather than the people she represents. As mayor I have worked hard to create jobs and restore fiscal discipline and I pledge to do the same in Congress.”

In the mid-term elections, voters will cast ballots for all 435 U.S. House seats and for 36 of the 100 U.S. Senate seats. Generally, the president’s party loses congressional seats in the first mid-term, and polls suggest the Democratic Party does face a challenge.

On the Web: For more information on LGBT candidates for office in 2010, go to

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