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Friday, November 4, 2016

Beyond The White House: Six Races You Need To Follow

The election season sees the most diverse array of LGBT candidates in history.
From: NewNowNext
 We’re less than a week away from Election Day, and while the media spotlight has deservedly been on the presidential race, there are numerous congressional races of importance to the LGBT community, as well.

This campaign season sees a diverse array of LGBT candidates—including the first trans candidates for Congress, and gay Republicans running in both Arizona and Connecticut.

Below, we spotlight six candidates making an impact in their states—and potentially in the nation.

For more on LGBT candidates across America, visit Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund.

 Angie Craig

With a background in journalism and health care, Craig is running to replace Minnesota Rep. John Kline, who is retiring.

Of all the LGBT newcomers, Craig, 49, has the best shot at winning: KSTP/SurveyUSA poll puts her ahead of her controversial Republican opponent, Jason Lewis, 46% to 41%.

Not only would that make her only the third gay congresswoman in U.S. history., it would help the Democrats retake a seat in the House that the GOP has held for over a decade.

 Craig, who is married with two kids, is billing herself as the candidate who cares about both business and families.

“I know what it’s like to be in a family that feels trapped by low skills without the means to pay for an education that would be key to advancing,” she wrote in an op-ed in the Star Tribune.

“That’s precisely why I’m so focused on public-private partnerships that help bridge the skills gap.”

 Matt Heinz

Heinz, an emergency physician, has a tougher slog in his House race: He’s an openly gay man running against a Republican incumbent in a state that’s a GOP stronghold.

He’s also deeply connected to one of President Obama’s most contentious programs, having worked with the Department of Health and Human Services with the roll-out of the Affordable Care Act, especially in reaching out to the LGBT community.

 In a September poll of 400 likely voters, Rep. Martha McSally enjoyed a double-digit lead, 56% to 37%. But McSally’s conservative record on social issues, including her support for legislation that would allow federal contractors to fire people because they are gay, could turn off voters in the Grand Canyon State.

And while Arizona as a whole is red, the 2nd congressional district, which encompasses most of Tuscon, has switched hands between Democratic and GOP representation numerous times. When McSally won her seat in 2014, it was by less than 200 votes.

 Denise Juneau

Running for Montana’s lone House seat, Juneau would be the first lesbian Native American in Congress.

She’s got her work cut out for her against incumbent Rep. Ryan Zinke, but exactly how much work is questionable: A poll touted by Zinke in October showed he had a 49-38 lead over his Democratic challenger. But a Harstad Strategic Research poll from September 20 shows he’s only ahead 45-42.

Juneau hopes getting out the Native vote will turn the tide in her favor.

“You can dress me up, you can put me in high-heeled slippers, but I’m still an Indian, no matter what,” she told MTV. “I’m a candidate, I’ve been elected statewide twice, and I happen to be a candidate who happens to be American Indian, who happens to be a woman, who happens to be openly gay. It’s all a bonus. I think that gets people excited.”

 Misty Plowright

Along with Misty Snow (below), Plowright is one of the first trans women to win a congressional primary. She now faces GOP Rep. Doug Lamborn in Colorado’s fifth district.

Plowright, a 33-year-old Army veteran who works in IT, is running on a platform of supporting veterans, reforming education and restructuring the tax system. She did well against her Democratic challengers but has raised only $11,000 compared to Lamborn’s $500,000. Adding to her long odds at a win is the fact that Colorado Springs is considered the state’s most conservative district.

“He’s completely ignoring me,” Plowright told the Denver Post of her opponent, who has refused to attend any debates or town halls. “It’s almost like he thinks that seat is his by divine right.”

 Her best hope, say insiders, is that female voters turned off by Trump’s misogyny will reject Republicans down the ticket, as well.

But even if she doesn’t win, Misty is “stirring something” within the voters, as she puts it—putting a face to the transgender community and paving the way for the first trans person in Congress.

“I went to the school of hard knocks at the university of life,” she told the Post. “I’ve been underestimated my entire life. Well, I’m still here and I’m still going.”
 Misty Snow

The other trans congressional candidate, Snow is up against Tea Party favorite Sen. Mike Lee in Utah. And like Plowright, she faces an uphill battle.

A 30-year-old resident of Salt Lake City, she was a grocery clerk before running in the primary, which she won handily. But she’s polling 39 points behind Lee, who has more than $1 million in campaign contributions, compared to Snow’s $8,000. And the last time Utah sent a Democrat to the Senate was more than four decades ago.

 But Snow utilizing her youth as a strength, texting messages to 18-25-year-old voters about electing the first millennial to the U.S. Senate. Her platform is pretty progressive, too: Increasing the minimum wage, decriminalizing marijuana, enacting paid family leave and reforming the criminal justice system.

“One of the things that really got me running was [that] I feel like there are a lot of issues that affect the working class that don’t get a voice in Washington,” she told KUER.

 Clay Cope

A former marketing executive for QVC, Cope is running for Congress in Connecticut’s 5th District. What makes him noteworthy? He’s an out-and-proud gay man—and a Republican.

Cope, 53, describes himself as a fiscal conservative who favors deregulation and a free-market economy. He’s endorsing Trump, another businessman-turned-politician: “I used to say ABC—anybody but Clinton—but now I say vote for Trump,” he told NBC.

His is a fairly moderate district, so his sexuality hasn’t ruffled many feathers. In fact, being a Republican in true-blue New England is a bigger hurdle, as he’s got to unseat twice-elected Democratic incumbent Elizabeth Esty.

According to his campaign site, Cope’s goals in Congress include “a balanced federal budget, lower federal taxes and spending—along with meaningful immigration reform, effective border security, and improved national security.”

Born in Texas, Cope is currently First Selectman in the town of Sherman, where he lives with his partner, Andres Sanchez.

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