Gay candidates score at the polls

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Providence, R.I., Mayor David Cicilline will be the fourth openly gay member of Congress. The Democrat, shown here after his primary victory, won the race in Rhode Island’s First Congressional District, defeating Republican John Loughlin by 51 percent to 44 percent. – Photo: AP/Stew Milne


Today, three of the 435 members of Congress are openly gay. That number will increase by one in January, when a new House of Representatives is sworn in and seated in the capitol.

On Nov. 2, Rhode Island voters elected openly gay Providence Mayor David Cicilline, D, to Congress, keeping the seat held by Patrick J. Kennedy in the Democratic fold.

Also on Election Day, voters in her Wisconsin district elected to send lesbian U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin, D, back to D.C. Voters also re-elected openly gay Reps. Barney Frank, D-Mass., and Jared Polis, D-Colo.

However, Democrat Steve Pougnet, openly gay mayor of Palm Springs, Calif., lost his bid to unseat Republican Mary Bono Mack. The race went 52 percent for Bono Mack, 41 percent for Pougnet.

Baldwin faced Republican Chad Lee and, according to unofficial results, won with 62 percent of the vote.

Polis also had an easy win. He faced three opponents – Republican Stephen Bailey, Constitution Party nominee Jenna Goss and Libertarian Curtis Harris – but none were serious contenders. Polis received 56 percent of the vote, according to unofficial returns.

Frank, though one of the more powerful and prominent members of Congress, faced a tough challenge from Republican Sean Bielat, a Tea Party favorite who amassed a hefty war chest for his campaign. A third candidate on the ballot was Tax Revolt Independent Don Jordan.

In the final month of the campaign, the Democratic Party dispatched some help to Massachusetts, including the crowd-pleasing Bill Clinton, and Frank, a member of the House since 1981, survived a fight for another term, winning with 54 percent of the vote.

“Barney Frank is nothing if not a fighter, and we’re very happy he will return to the House and continue to fight for the people of Massachusetts and for all LGBT Americans. Nobody has worked harder or longer in the U.S. Congress for fairness and equality for the LGBT community,” said Chuck Wolfe, president of the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund.

In Rhode Island, President Barack Obama helped rally support for Cicilline, whose Facebook page the morning after the election contained congratulations from “friends” around the world.

Wolfe said 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.”

In California, Bono Mack campaigned with an endorsement from the Log Cabin Republicans while Pougnet went into the race with the backing of many other LGBT groups, including the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund.

The victory fund, which helps train openly gay candidates for office in addition to assisting with campaign fundraising, endorsed 164 candidates in the midterm election cycle.

On VF’s list of top races:

Democrat Marcus Brandon won his race for North Carolina representative and will become one of five openly LGBT officeholders serving in state legislatures.

Democrat Jim Gray won his race for mayor in Lexington, Ky., defeating incumbent Jim Newberry. “This is a tremendous victory for Lexington, for Kentucky’s LGBT community and for fairness,” Wolfe said. “We are proud of Jim Gray and his fantastic campaign staff who fought hard for this win.”

Republican Dan Hill lost a close race for Nevada State Assembly.

Democrat Laurie Jinkins won her race for Washington State representative.

Demorat Aaron Kampfe lost his race for Montana state senator.

Democrat Victoria Kolakowski won her race for Alameda County, Calif., superior court judge.