LGBT Candidates in Close, Controversial, and Trailblazing Local and State Races

By Michelle Garcia

Originally published on Advocate.com November 02 2012 7:00 AM ET

Above: Sims, Dietz, and McEntee

The Pennsylvania Three  
Brian Sims, a gay attorney from Philadelphia, defeated incumbent state representative Babette Josephs in the Democratic primary, and without a Republican opponents, he is sure to be elected to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, where no openly gay person has ever served. Two other gay Democrats, Christopher Dietz and Kelly Jean McEntee, are seeking election to the House this fall, and they face a more difficult challenge in Republican-leaning central Pennsylvania. Dietz is engaged in a heated campaign against incumbent Sue Helm, a Republican whose campaign and supporters have sent out vicious mailers slamming him. In a neighboring district, McEntee is up against 24-year incumbent Republican Ron Marsico. McEntee, an engineer, has been actively campaigning against Marsico, with efforts including a seven-mile walk from Marsico's house to the capitol building to protest the fact that he was reimbursed for more than $7,000 in travel and meal expenses. Still, Harrisburg's Patriot-News endorsed Marsico, partly because of his seniority on the House Judiciary Committee.


Simone Bell — Georgia House of Representatives
In 2009, Simone Bell, a Democrat, became the first African-American lesbian to serve in any state legislature, but now she faces a challenge from Republican Earl Cooper after the state redrew the district.

"The map itself is a challenge," she said in July. "There's a huge difference in economic, racial, and educational status."

While there are five openly gay candidates seeking state-level office, Georgia Equality’s Cathy Woolard warns that the state legislature could emerge in November with a Republican supermajority, which could further stifle progress on LGBT rights legislation.


Above: Carr, Steadman

Colorado State Senate, 31st District
Two openly gay candidates are running against each other in what is believed to be a first for a major state race. Republican Michael Carr is up against incumbent Democrat Pat Steadman for the state Senate seat in Colorado's 31st district, which includes parts of Denver.  


Carl DeMaio — San Diego Mayor
While San Diego is one of California's more conservative cities, its exiting mayor, Jerry Sanders, is a Republican who has also been a vocal advocate for marriage equality, winning him support from LGBT residents. In the race to succeed him, gay Republican Carl DeMaio may receive less support from LGBT voters who have backed Sanders, as many of them prefer his Democratic opponent, Bob Filner. DeMaio was not the Log Cabin Republicans' first choice for the mayoralty, and the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund did not endorse him. While Sanders played a prominent role in the campaign against Proposition 8 in 2008, DeMaio stayed quiet on the issue during his City Council race, the The New York Times notes. Still, DeMaio is running with the full support of the city's Republican Party, and his opponent says DeMaio is "beholden to these antigay financial interests."



Susan Wilson — North Carolina State House, District 115
Last week, Asheville, N.C., state House challenger Susan Wilson was called "an ugly old dyke" on Twitter. This tweet wasn't from just any random person with an iPhone and a Twitter handle — it was from Michael F. Muller, a Republican operative who once managed a separate political campaign for Wilson's opponent, Nathan Ramsey.



Josh Boschee — North Dakota House of Representatives, District 44
Josh Boschee could become one of the youngest state legislators elected to office as well as the first openly gay person to hold a seat in his state's House of Representatives. However, Boschee is being attacked in Internet ads declaring that he is promoting a "gay agenda." Boschee said that his campaign is not solely about him being a gay man, and his opponents have also condemned the ads. Fargo TV station WDAY reports that the ads originated with a right-wing group called Public Advocate, headed by a Virginia elected official, Eugene Delgaudio. Delgaudio is being investigated by the FBI over allegations that he used public employees to raise funds for his political campaigns.