Gay candidates triumph
Openly gay politician David Cicilline on Tuesday became the heir apparent to the office long held by former Providence, R.I., mayor Vincent "Buddy" Cianci Jr. With all precincts reporting, Cicilline won the Democratic primary with 53% of the vote, while former mayor Joseph Paolino had 33%.
Cicilline, an attorney and state legislator, entered the mayoral race long before outgoing mayor Cianci's corruption conviction in June. Cicilline campaigned on a clean government platform, vowing to abolish the old cash-for-favors politics that have long dominated city hall. "This campaign began seven months ago and really has focused on change in our city," Cicilline said. "The voters obviously listened to the message and are ready for a mayor who's going to move the city forward."
In other elections news, openly gay Danny O'Donnell (brother of Rosie) beat out seven candidates to take the New York 69th assembly district's Democratic nomination. Wisconsin state senate candidate Tim Carpenter is poised to become his state's first openly gay senator, and Arizona state house candidate Jack Jackson Jr., who is a member of the Navajo Nation, will likely become the first openly gay American Indian in the country to win office. All three men are Democrats who won their party's nomination Tuesday in strongly Democratic districts, all but guaranteeing their wins in November.
The Reverend Ron Greer won Tuesday's Republican primary in Wisconsin's second congressional district, which pits him against Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Madison), Congress's only out lesbian, in the November 5 election. Greer, a black minister, referred to Baldwin as a "left-wing lesbian" in 1998, when he came in second place in the GOP primary.
Finally, in another closely watched race, Elizabeth Dole won a seven-way GOP primary for a North Carolina Senate seat left vacant by outgoing antigay senator Jesse Helms.
"Yesterday was a banner day for open representation," said Bob Kearney, political director of the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, a nonpartisan group that works to help elect gay candidates. "We have momentum going into the November 5 general elections, and we intend to build on that momentum next week. That's when another group of gay men and lesbians will face primaries, this time in Massachusetts and Washington State."