Dan Baer, a 42-year-old former diplomat for the Obama administration, is making progress in his effort to become America's first openly gay senator.
Baer, a Democrat, is hoping to challenge Colorado's Republican junior senator, Cory Gardner. Once known as a bastion of conservatism, Colorado is increasingly liberal -- in 2016, the electorate voted for Hillary Clinton and elected the nation's first out gay male governor, Jared Polis.
Baer just received the endorsement of the LGBTQ Victory Fund, which works to elect out candidates to political office. In its announcement of the endorsement, the organization noted that Baer pulled in a "record-breaking $1.35 million fundraising haul in the second quarter -- the largest ever initial fundraising report for an openly LGBTQ Congressional candidate."
(RELATED: Victory Fund Endorses Pete Buttigieg for President)
Under Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Baer served as a deputy assistant secretary of State for the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor; he then worked under Secretary of State John Kerry as U.S. ambassador to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, focusing on issues like human rights and Russian aggression, according to TheDenver Post. After President Obama left office, Baer was appointed by then-Gov. John Hickenlooper to serve as executive director of the Colorado Department of Higher Education.
Baer, who is married and lives in Denver's Five Points neighorhood, acknowledged to the Post that he couldn't conceive of running as a gay politician when he was growing up.
"The idea that I could run for office as a gay person in Colorado, in the '90s, was far-fetched," Baer said.
If Baer is elected, he'll be the first out gay man ever elected to the U.S. Senate and the third openly LGBTQ person in the upper chamber, following Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona.
"Coloradans led the country by electing America's first openly gay governor in 2018 -- and in 2020 they will make history again in sending the first out gay man to the U.S. Senate," Mayor Annise Parker, president and CEO of the LGBTQ Victory Fund, said in a statement. "Never before has an openly LGBTQ Congressional candidate reported such strong initial fundraising numbers -- an important indicator, given LGBTQ candidates for high-level office are often underestimated early in their campaigns. But Dan's authentic and values-driven approach to politics is resonating with voters, and there is no better candidate to take on anti-LGBTQ incumbent Cory Gardner than a person so deeply affected by the discriminatory positions Gardner promotes."
Before taking on Gardner, Baer will have to knock out several other Democrats, including former state Sen. Mike Johnston and former House Speaker Andrew Romanoff.
Baer lists improving education and combating climate change as top priorities on his website.