Lesbian congressional candidate loses bid for Georgia seat
July 22 2004 12:00 AM ET
Democratic congressional candidate Cathy Woolard was hoping to become the South's first openly lesbian candidate elected to federal office. But with all precincts reporting after Tuesday's Democratic primary, Woolard's leading opponent, former representative Cynthia McKinney, had 51% of the vote, eliminating a runoff and giving McKinney the nomination in the fourth district, a heavily Democratic section east of Atlanta. McKinney, a firebrand legislator who spent eight years in the House, was upset two years ago by Denise Majette, a little-known state court judge, in the Democratic primary after McKinney made incendiary comments about President Bush, in which she accused the president of ignoring warnings about the 9/11 terrorist attacks because his cronies could profit from war. Woolard, a former Atlanta city council president who raised the most money in the campaign, was expected to force a runoff in the primary, which in the absence of any strong Republican contenders in the fall basically decides the election.
The Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, which endorsed Woolard and helped her to raise money, applauded her "tenacious campaign efforts" and numerous achievements in increasing gay and lesbian representation in government. "Cathy was elected to the Atlanta city council in 1997, making her the first openly gay or lesbian official elected in the state of Georgia," read a Victory Fund statement. "She was elected president of the council in 2001 and continued her efforts to conserve city resources, improve blighted neighborhoods, while championing nondiscrimination policies and the provision of domestic-partner benefits."
Also in Georgia, Alex Wan of Atlanta, the first openly gay Asian-American to run for a state legislative seat in the South, secured 39% of the vote, an impressive showing but not enough to win the nomination. Politically gay-friendly incumbent Pat Gardner will retain the seat, having garnered 61% of the vote. Interestingly, Gardner, not Wan, won the endorsement of gay rights group Georgia Equality for her work against a constitutional same-sex marriage ban passed by the state legislature this year.