By Julie Bolcer
Originally published on Advocate.com June 29 2012 12:19 PM ET
Former U.S. representative Patrick Murphy, who sponsored legislation to repeal “don’t ask, don’t tell,” announced his endorsement of Trevor Thomas, a gay congressional hopeful from Michigan who also worked on the campaign to end the military’s discriminatory policy.
Murphy, the first Iraq War veteran to be elected to Congress, served two terms representing Pennsylvania, from 2007 to 2011. During that time, the moderate Democrat became closely identified with the legislative effort to repeal “don’t ask, don’t tell.” Thomas, a former TV reporter and producer, served in communications roles for the Human Rights Campaign and Servicemembers Legal Defense Network leading up to the passage of repeal legislation in 2010.
"Trevor Thomas is a passionate public servant who will stand up for middle class families and fight for the people he represents," said Murphy in a news release from the Thomas campaign. "A member of Congress needs to be able to work with people of different views. The repeal of ‘don't ask, don't tell’ didn't just happen — it required extensive legwork and a willingness to reach across party lines. We would not have succeeded in repealing this discriminatory policy without Trevor. He showed the kind of dedication and commitment we should expect from a member of Congress. In this age of partisanship and rancor, West Michigan — and America — need Trevor Thomas in Congress."
Thomas, 28, is competing in the Democratic primary for the chance to challenge first-term Republican Justin Amash, a young Tea Party favorite, in a district held by Republicans since 1976. Thomas will face Steve Pestka, 60, who served as a state representative and circuit court judge, in the contest on August 7.
The primary pits the pro-choice gay newcomer against an establishment candidate who supports civil unions and brings a pro-life record. A poll conducted for the Thomas campaign last week suggested that victory could be at hand if he can overcome a deficit in name recognition. According to a profile by Inside The Lines, Thomas has made a strong showing in fund-raising and social media to counteract his underdog reputation.
The Murphy endorsement joins nods for Thomas from Congressional Progressive Caucus chair Raul Grijalva and vice chair Chellie Pingree, former Michigan governor and Current TV host Jennifer Granholm, and others.
"I am honored that Representative Murphy has endorsed our campaign," said Thomas in the news release. "He has shown great courage, both as a member of Congress and serving in Iraq. Representative Murphy's work has brought America closer to realizing its promise: that all are created equal and should have the same opportunities to serve our country. I am grateful to Representative Murphy for his endorsement, and I thank him for all he has done for our country."