A Breakdown of New England LGBT Candidates
A distinguished crop of LGBT candidates in New England is running for state and federal offices in 2014.
In Massachusetts, Richard Tisei, a gay Republican, is challenging incumbent Congressman John Tierney (D). Also in the Bay State, Steve Kerrigan (D) is running for Lieutenant Governor and lesbian Maura Healey (D) is vying for Attorney General.
Tisei, 51, served in the Massachusetts state legislature for 26-years, most recently as the minority leader in the state senate. He was the 2010 Republican nominee for Lt. Governor of Massachusetts and the 2012 nominee for United States Congress from the state’s sixth district. Tisei lost both races, however.
The out Republican has found himself at odds with the GOP over their opposition to same-sex marriage. To protest the party’s stance, he skipped the state Republican convention last March.
Kerrigan, 42, served as the CEO of the Democratic National Convention from 2009 through 2012 and as political director for the late United States Senator Edward Kennedy (D). He was also chief of staff for former state attorney general Thomas Reilly (D).
Healey, 43, was assigned by Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley (D) to head two prominent divisions in the state’s chief law enforcement office - both the Public Protection & Advocacy Bureau and the Business & Labor Bureau. Previously, Healey served as Chief of the Attorney General’s Civil Rights Division after serving as a private sector attorney and a Middlesex County prosecutor.
According to Healey’s website, she organized the efforts in the Commonwealth’s landmark challenge to the federal Defense of Marriage Act and she led the winning argument for Massachusetts in the nation’s first lawsuit striking down the law that discriminated against same-sex married couples.
In Rhode Island, which legalized gay marriage last year, Brett Smiley is running as a Democratic candidate for Mayor of Providence. Smiley hopes to succeed Angel Taveras, who is a Democratic candidate for Governor.
In addition to serving as the Chair of the Providence Water Supply Board, Smiley has been involved in a number of progressive causes, including Planned Parenthood and Marriage Equality Rhode Island (MERI), and Rhode Island Communities for Addiction Recovery Efforts (RICARES).
Incumbent Congressman David Cicilline (D), one of a handful of openly gay members in the U.S. House of Representatives, is facing a primary challenge by Democrat Matt Fecteau, an Iraq war veteran. Cormick Lynch, a former Marine, is running as a Republican.
Todd Giroux, a building contractor from Bristol, is running as a candidate for the Democratic nomination for Governor. Giroux’s opponents include state treasurer Gina Raimondo, Clay Pell, and Taveras.
Congressman Mike Michaud (D) is running for Governor of Maine.
Rumors about Michaud’s sexual orientation have been rampant throughout his 33-year political career, but have never been reported. Hailing from a Franco-American Catholic family, Michaud, who was first elected to the state Legislature in 1980, never addressed - and rarely faced -direct questions about his sexuality. It was never publicly made an issue by his opponents during mostly comfortable victories in the 2nd Congressional District.
In a 2013 editorial, Michaud said his sexual orientation has no bearing on his qualifications for the job.
"For me, it’s just a part of who I am, as much as being a third-generation millworker or a lifelong Mainer. One thing I do know is that it has nothing to do with my ability to lead the state of Maine," Michaud wrote. "Most of all, I was brought up believing you should judge a person based on the content of his or her character, not by his or her race, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation."
Officials from the Human Rights Campaign recently announced their endorsement of Michaud.
"Mike Michaud has been a champion for equality during his long service in Congress," said Tom O’Donnell, HRC vice president for policy and political affairs. "His dedication to the LGBT community and his commitment to fairness for all Maine families make him the right choice for Governor."
If successful in defeating Republican Governor Paul LePage and independent Eliot Cutler, Michaud could become the first openly gay governor in the country. Although former New Jersey Governor James McGreevey revealed that he was gay in 2004, the announcement coincided with his resignation and a public scandal. Michaud now joins Maryland Democratic candidate Heather Mizeur in seeking to become the first openly gay candidates elected governor.
In New Hampshire, Republican Dan Innis is running to represent the state’s first congressional district. Innis is hoping to oust incumbent Democrat Rep. Carol Shea-Porter.
Innis, a businessman and UNH administrator, served as the Dean of the Whittemore School of Business and Economics since 2007, overseeing major developments at the school. Dan also co-founded The Hotel Portsmouth with his husband Doug Palardy.
"Dan Innis is a sensible and visionary leader, two qualities New Hampshire constituents deserve in a representative," said Torey Carter, chief operating officer at the Victory Fund. "His unique combination of corporate and academic backgrounds has allowed him to address issues that affect others with careful consideration."
Innis doesn’t see LGBT issues as a priority for him if elected as much as the advancement of equality in general.
"I think, for me, it’s about equality for all, and those are the issues that I’ll always champion, so any issue that relates to equality - whether it’s related to gender, race, sexual orientation - those are values that I think all Americans hold, and those are things that I would always fight for," Innis said. "It’s a broad-based equality mission for me."