Gay candidates up for election across America

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American voters will be choosing US Representatives, Senators, state Governors and other elected officials at all levels of government today.

“This Election Day is a critical one for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered Americans,” according to the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, which works to increase the number of gays and lesbians in office.

It has 111 endorsed candidates on ballots in most states and the District of Columbia. LGBT candidates are running for offices at all levels of government, from school boards to the U.S. Congress,

Jared Polis is expected to become the first ever out gay man elected to the U.S. Congress as a non-incumbent, representing Colorado’s second Congressional District in the House of Representatives.

As a Democrat in a predominantly Democratic area, Polis is expected to win.

Other highlights include:

  • Jason Bartlett—State Representative, Connecticut—Rep. Bartlett came out in 2008 during his current term, making him one of only two openly gay African-American state legislators in the U.S.  His reelection would confirm that serving honestly and openly as LGBT is not a barrier to retaining the trust of constituents.
  • Kate Brown—Secretary of State, Oregon—Sen. Kate Brown, who currently serves as the Democratic Leader in the Oregon Senate, would become the first openly LGBT Secretary of State in the U.S.  In Oregon, the office is the second-highest ranking elected post behind the governor.
  • Linda Ketner—U.S. Representative, South Carolina—Linda Ketner is a longtime businesswoman, community activist and philanthropist who is seeking to represent South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District in the House of Representatives.  She faces an entrenched Republican incumbent, but the state’s political press says Ketner’s campaign has made the race competitive.
  • Kevin Lee—State Representative, Pennsylvania—Kevin Lee would become the Keystone State’s first out representative, which would be a milestone for Pennsylvania’s substantial LGBT community.  Kevin hopes to represent a swing district in suburban Philadelphia.
  • Andrew Martin—State Representative, Nevada—Andrew Martin is seeking a seat in the Nevada Assembly, where he would be the only out state representative.  Current State Rep. David Parks, who is also openly gay, is running for the State Senate.
  • Sara Orozco—State Senate, Massachusetts—Sara Orozco would be the only openly LGBT state senator in Massachusetts.  She faces a notoriously anti-gay incumbent.
  • John Perez—State Assembly, California—If elected, John Perez would become the first openly LGBT person of color elected to the California legislature.  Perez’ strong support from both the labor and LGBT groups reflects growing alliances between the two communities.
  • Jim Roth—Corporation Commission, Oklahoma—Jim Roth was appointed to this powerful statewide regulatory commission by Gov. Brad Henry after winning two terms on the Oklahoma County Commission.  He is now running to keep the seat.  Roth would become the first openly gay statewide elected official in Oklahoma.
  • Lupe Valdez—Sheriff, Dallas County, Texas—Lupe Valdez became the first woman, the first Latina and the first out lesbian ever elected to this post when she won in 2004.  Republicans, still smarting from having lost the seat in 2004, have targeted this county-wide race.

Voters will consider state ballot measures to ban gay marriage in California, Florida and John McCain’s home state of Arizona.