By Julie Bolcer
Originally published on Advocate.com August 29 2012 12:56 AM ET
Former Arizona state lawmaker Kyrsten Sinema has won her Democratic primary for the U.S. House of Representatives, pushing her one step closer to becoming the first openly bisexual member of Congress.
The Arizona Republic called the race for Sinema around 12:30 a.m. Wednesday. She defeated former Arizona Democratic Party chairman Andrei Cherny and state Senate minority leader David Schapira, taking 42.5% of the vote with 64.5% of precincts reporting.
Sinema will go on to face Vernon Parker, a Paradise Valley town councilman who narrowly won a seven-way Republican primary. Because the 9th Congressional District, based in Tempe, is new, whoever wins the general election would become the first person to represent the district, therefore Sinema stands to make history twice.
“Kyrsten is a proven leader who stands up for what’s right and knows how to get results,” said Chuck Wolfe, president and CEO of the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, which endorsed Sinema. “We’re extremely proud of her hard-fought victory tonight and committed to helping bring her authentic, outspoken voice for LGBT equality to Capitol Hill in November.”
EMILY’s List and the Human Rights Campaign also endorsed Sinema, in addition to other groups.
The primary campaign was marked by a nasty tone. Last week Sinema accused Cherny of telling voters that she could not win because she is openly bisexual. She claimed he tried to dissuade a union from endorsing her, but his campaign dismissed the charge as a lie.
Sinema alluded to the episode in her victory statement.
“Arizonans have heard a lot of negative attacks against me during this campaign, and we are going to hear a lot worse. You are going to hear things about me that aren’t true. This is what has happened to our politics, and this win-at-all-costs mentality is damaging our democracy," she said.
“But remember, whatever you hear, I will always be on the side of ordinary families who have been kicked around and held down by powerful forces that have damaged our country’s prosperity," she added.
The LGBT contingent in Congress will be losing two stalwarts this year with the retirement of Congressman Barney Frank and Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin making a bid for Senate. However, with eight out candidates running this year, LGBT representation on Capitol Hill could potentially double to eight from the current four, according to the Victory Fund.