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How Many LGBTs In House? Too Close to Call

How Many LGBTs In House? Too Close to Call


In a night of electoral gut-punches for Democrats, the number of LGBT House members is still unclear.

Whether a gay Republican has won a seat in the House, and whether the number of LGBT lawmakers there has declined, both remain unclear as close election results leave races officially uncalled.

San Diego Republican Carl DeMaio could still become the only out Republican member of the House. With all precincts counted in California's District 52, tallies show him with 50.26 percent of the vote, compared to 49.74 percent for opponent Scott Peters. The two are separated by just 752 votes, and the San Diego Union-Tribunereports thousands of absentee and provisional ballots might remain to be counted, opening the prospect a final result won't be known for days.

Whether DeMaio wins could determine whether LGBTs keep up the small number of representation in the House. With Mike Michaud of Maine leaving Congress to make a failed bid for governor, to keep seven LGBTs in Congress, results required at least one win from the round of new LGBT candidates in races across the country. But from Clay Aiken in North Carolina to Sean Eldridge in New York to Louie Minor in Texas, out congressional hopefuls lost on Tuesday.

Luckily, the six incumbents running for reelection appear to have fared well. All of them won, if you count freshman Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, who declared victory on Tuesday in his race to represent New York's 18th congressional district but who leads Republican challenger Nan Hayworth by 1,774 votes, according to the Poughkeepsie Journal. Hayworth, who Maloney unseated just two years ago, has refused to concede. She had a reputation from her previous time in the House as an LGBT ally and even got her gay son to campaign alongside her.

The DeMaio race captured national attention as he was one of three out Republicans running for Congress this year. The others were Richard Tisei of Massachusetts who lost his race Tuesday night, and Dan Innis of New Hampshire, who lost the Republican primary in September.

The election followed claims from two former DeMaio staff members that he had graphically sexually harassed them during the campaign, and CNN had reported on the scandal in the race.

If declared the winner, DeMaio wouldn't be the first out Republican ever to be elected to the House. Steve Gunderson was the only Republican member of Congress who opposed DOMA back in 1996. He was outed by the famously antigay congressman Bob Dornan, from Orange County. Arizona Rep. Jim Kolbe came out in 1996, fearing he would be outed, and was subsequently reelected several times before he retired in 2007. Florida Republican Mark Foley came out in 2006 and did not seek reelection after his announcement.

Congress's first out father, Rep. Jared Polis, handily retained his seat representing Colorado's Second Congressional District, besting his Republican challenger by nearly 10 points. An outspoken supporter of LGBT equality, education, immigration reform, and the legalization of marijuana, Polis's seat was one of the few Democrats weren't worried about losing Tuesday night, as his district includes several liberal strongholds. Other LGBT-supportive Democrats in Colorado didn't fare as well.

In Arizona, bisexual Rep. Kyrsten Sinema kept her seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, defeating Republican challenger Wendy Rogers with 54 percent of the vote, according to the Associated Press. Going into the election as Congress's only openly bisexual member, Sinema fought to retain her seat as Republicans amped up their efforts in early voting. But Sinema, whose district elected President Obama in 2012 by just four points, has a track record of bipartisan work since her days in the state legislature, which may have worked in her favor, particularly for vulnerable Democrats in Arizona.

Following his first term in Congress, gay California Democrat Mark Takano retained his House seat Tuesday night against Republican challenger Steve Adams, the Associated Press reports. According to the Press-Enterprise, Takano secured more than 56 percent of the vote to Adams' 54 percent.

It's unclear whether Takano's performance in a contentious debate last week helped drive voters to the polls, but it's likely that Adams' claim that "Middle Easterners, Syrians" and Iranians are crossing the border into the United States from Mexico didn't help his campaign. In a district with a heavily Latino population, it's equally likely that Takano's response to Adams' baseless claims -- speaking Spanish in an effort to throw off his opponent -- may have worked in Takano's favor.

Wisconsin's Marc Pocan inherited his congressional seat from Sen. Tammy Baldwin, who left the House to become the first openly LGBT person ever elected to serve in the U.S. Senate. Representing a safely Democratic district, Pocan's reelection was all but assured -- but that doesn't make the victory any less sweet for Democrats likely licking their wounds after Tuesday's Republican shellacking.

Former Providence mayor and current congressman from Rhode Island David Cicilline successfully ran for reelection against Republican Cormick Lynch. During a recent debate where Cicilline argued for a bump in the federal minimum wage, Lynch asked the out politician the color of the unicorn he rode in on.

What's the color of victory?

--Sunnivie Brydum, Michelle Garcia, Trudy Ring and Lucas Grindley contributed to this report.

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