The Other Gay Contenders



Wisconsin congresswoman Tammy Baldwin — who might run in 2012 to become the first out U.S. senator — isn't the only LGBT person with political ambitions. Numerous lesser-known gay candidates, most completely new to politics, are running for elected office. In the first of an occasional series, The Advocate profiles young overachievers who want your vote this year and next. Here are some of the best and brightest:

- Ed Potosnak
- Democrat
- Running for New Jersey’s 7th congressional district seat

Baldwin’s potential 2012 bid for retiring Sen. Herb Kohl’s
seat has many LGBT politicos excited with the prospect of an openly gay
senator. Yet should she run — and win — the number of gay congressional
reps could be whittled down from four to three. Ed Potosnak, a former
high school teacher who runs a private construction business and serves
as an adjunct professor at Rutgers University’s Graduate School of
Education, is stepping up to fill that possible void by running for New
Jersey’s 7th congressional district seat — his second bid after losing
the race in 2010.

Potosnak’s education and student antibullying
emphases have particular resonance at Rutgers, his alma mater. Potosnak
served as a hall director in the same dorm where Tyler Clementi lived:
Last September the 18-year-old freshman jumped to his death from the
George Washington Bridge, one of several LGBT youth suicides that
ignited mainstream media attention on a longstanding and tragic issue.
“As a member of the Rutgers family I was deeply saddened,” Potosnak
recalls. “It was a reminder to all of us how incredibly important it is
to make sure our LGBTQ youth are supported in school, home, and society.
"I will continue to work and champion safe spaces and schools."

2010, Potosnak lost the 7th district race to incumbent Leonard
Lance, who won with 59% of the vote to Potosnak’s 41% during a midterm
election that saw sweeping House victories for the GOP. The 18-point
margin hasn’t dissuaded a second bid for the 39-year-old resident of North Plainfield. “They ran on uncertainty and
they’ve provided more uncertainty than we had going into the 2010
election,” Potosnak asserts of the GOP. “The House is failing to do
anything in a bipartisan fashion to move our country forward.” —Andrew Harmon


Tags: Election