By Trudy Ring
Originally published on Advocate.com June 11 2014 4:55 PM ET
Come November, Maine could make history by electing an openly gay governor and repeat it by voting in the nation’s youngest openly gay state legislator.
Mike Michaud, who is currently a member of Congress, ran unopposed in Tuesday’s Democratic gubernatorial primary. In November he will face Republican incumbent Paul LePage and independent Eliot Cutler. An April poll of Maine voters by Public Policy Polling showed 44 percent of respondents favoring Michaud, 37 percent for LePage, and 14 percent for Cutler, with the remainder undecided. Another recent poll, by Rasmussen Reports, showed Michaud and LePage with 40 percent support each.
If he wins in the fall, Michaud would be the first openly gay candidate elected governor in the nation. Gov. Jim McGreevey of New Jersey was closeted when elected and resigned when he came out in 2004.
Appearing on MSNBC’s The Daily Rundown With Chuck Todd today, Michaud said he’s gotten support from independents and moderate Republicans as well as Democrats. “I’m the only candidate in this race that does have a proven track record of being able to work across the aisle and get things done,” he added. (Watch the interview at the end of this article.)
Michaud has served in the U.S. House of Representatives since 2003 and was previously a Maine state legislator, with stints in both the House and Senate, and was president of the latter. He came out last year in a newspaper column, noting that his opponents had carried on “whisper campaigns” implying that he’s gay. “They want people to question whether I am gay,” he wrote. “Allow me to save them the trouble with a simple, honest answer: ‘Yes, I am. But why should it matter?’” He added, “My personal life has never factored into how I do my job” and “that’s certainly not going to change if I’m elected governor.”
In the Democratic primary for state representative from Maine’s 11th District, Ryan Fecteau easily defeated David Flood by winning 65 percent of the vote. Fecteau, 21, would be the nation’s youngest openly LGBT state legislator if he beats Republican Debi Davis in November, a likely outcome since the district is heavily Democratic, notes the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund.
Currently, the youngest LGBT state lawmaker in the nation is another Mainer, Justin Chenette, who was elected at age 21 in 2012 to represent the 15th House District. He was one of The Advocate’s 40 Under 40 in 2013. Currently seeking a second term, he was unopposed in the Democratic primary and will face Republican Frederick Fortier in November.