The most important political races outside of Florida
Openly LGBT candidates are duking it out in many states to gain office and increase the visibility of the gay community and its issues. Here’s are some of the national candidates that if elected this November, would rise to influential positions of power within our government.
1. Tammy Baldwin (Dem) for U.S. Senate - Wisconsin
Baldwin is currently the U.S. Representative for Wisconsin's 2nd congressional district; if she wins in November, she would become the first openly gay U.S. senator ever. According to the latest polls she holds a slight edge over her opponent, Republican nominee Tommy Thompson, for the open seat being vacated by retiring U.S. senator Herb Kohl.
Baldwin spoke at this year’s Democratic National Convention about tax policy, campaign finance reform, and especially equality.
“Our president has made historic progress toward equality. He repealed "Don't ask, Don't tell" so that no American ever again has to lie about who they are in order to serve the country we love. Republicans want to write discrimination into our Constitution. But the Wisconsin I know believes that with each passing year and each generation, our country must become more equal, not less,” she said during the convention.
The lesbian politician, serving as U.S. representative since 1999, counts with the support of several LGBT organizations and Democratic PACs to make the jump into the U.S. Senate. She was received about $125,000 in donations from Democracy for America, a political action committee spearheaded by former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean. The Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund and the Lesbian Super PAC, LPAC, have also endorsed Baldwin.
2. David Cicilline (Dem) for U.S. House - Rhode Island 1st C.D.
The former gay mayor of Providence, Rhode Island, is running as the incumbent to try to get a second term as congressman for the newly redrawn 1st district. He’s facing Republican challenger Brendan Doherty, a retired colonel from the Rhode Island State Police.
The mayor of Providence for eight year, Cicilline was elected to the U.S. House in 2010 and hopes to retain that position. He’s being backed by LGBT organizations and non other than Bill Clinton.
"David Cicilline was one of America's most innovative and effective mayors," the former president said during a speech on Oct. 27.
"David Cicilline is the best candidate for Rhode Island," Clinton said, "he's the one on your side."
Cicilline has said that his biggest priority in Congress is helping the creation of jobs in his state. He also supports small businesses, seniors, Medicare, and bringing all the remaining the troops in the Middle East back home, according to his website. He’s also pushing to legalize gay marriage in the state.
3. Sean Patrick Maloney (Dem) for U.S. House - New York 18th C.D.
Maloney, gay former aide of New York governor Eliot Spitzer, David Paterson and President Clinton, is looking to get elected for the newly created Congressional district in New York.
He is running against Tea Party-backed Republican Nan Hayworth, who has also been endorsed by gay conservative group the Log Cabin Republicans.
During the Clinton Administration, Maloney served as senior adviser to the former president, who’s currently campaigning on behalf of his ex-staffer.
“Sean worked closely with me in the White House to create jobs, grow our economy and balance the budget. It’s time to bring a common sense approach back to Congress, and Sean Patrick Maloney is the right Democrat to help restore the economy and get people back to work in the Hudson Valley,” Clinton said in June.
Maloney also counts with the endorsement of the New York Times.
“She [Hayworth]has favored limiting contraception coverage for employees and voted to defund Planned Parenthood. Mr. Maloney promises to support health care reform, help the middle class and oppose tax cuts for the rich. We recommend Mr. Maloney,” the newspaper wrote.
4. Mark Takano (Dem) for U.S. House - California 41st C.D.
If Takano wins the seat for this new district, he would become the first non-white openly gay member of the House of Representatives.
“The significance of that achievement is the unique voice that an openly gay member of Congress of color can bring to the House floor and the House committee rooms,” Takano said in an interview with the Washington Blade last year. “It’s a double-awareness of what it means to be vulnerable.”
The family of this Japanese American politician emigrated to the U.S. after World War II. The 51-year-old is a Harvard graduate and a British literature public school teacher for over 20 years.
He said he expects to help end the Employment Non-Discrimination Act during his tenure in Congress, wants repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, and pass the Uniting American Families Act, which would allow immigrant partners of gay U.S. citizens to obtain permanent residentship in the country.
Takano will face Republican John Tavaglione for the seat.
The Human Rights Campaign and retiring gay Rep. Barney Frank, among others, have endorsed Takano.
5. Richard Tisei (Rep) for U.S. House - Massachusetts 6th C.D.
Tisei, a moderate Republican, could become the first openly gay Republican to be elected to Congress. He’s currently ahead of his opponent eight-term incumbent Democratic Rep. John Tierney, according to a recent poll.
He was a supporter of gay marriage in his state, lobbying to get the law changed. Tisei said he is also pro-abortion, and told The Advocate he would have voted for the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, the first piece of legislation signed by President Obama. The bill lengthens the statute of limitations on gender discrimination cases in the workplace.
On possibly becoming the first gay Republican in Congress: "I feel like yeah I'm probably--- I might be the catalyst because I'd be one of the first people to break through and I embrace that," Tisei told ABC News. "I'm not afraid of being myself."
He has been endorsed by the Boston Globe.
Correction: This article originally identified Howard Dean as the former governor of Virginia. Dean is the former governor of Vermont.