Out With the Old

BY Matt Link

August 12 2010 5:00 AM ET

 Unemployment is hovering at close to 10%, frustration over two wars and the Gulf oil spill is unabated, and a recent CNN poll found that a majority of Americans are angry at both political parties. Conventional wisdom suggests that an anti-incumbent sentiment could be bad news for Democratic majorities in Congress, but a number of gay candidates—running as newcomers or challengers in dozens of races this fall—hope the tide might also help sweep them into office.

“With an anti-incumbent sentiment, gay candidates have an opportunity to do better than ever before,” says Andy Szekeres, a Denver-based political consultant. “Where we would lose that seat in other election years, now up to 10% of voters may cross party lines just to try someone new.”

Baltimore’s Mary Washington thinks this year offers her the best chance yet to get elected to Maryland’s house of delegates. Four years ago she narrowly lost the same seat she seeks this year.

“All challengers, irrespective of their sexual orientation, are being buoyed this cycle by deep concerns about the economy, the war, and a disaffection of the slow pace of change,” she says. “I believe deeply that LGBT candidates will be successful this year.”

Steve Pougnet, currently the mayor of Palm Springs, Calif., is running in California’s 45th district against Republican congresswoman Mary Bono Mack, who’s served for 12 years. The gay father of two says anti-incumbent fervor is especially high in greater Palm Springs, an area especially racked by unemployment and foreclosures







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