Metro Weekly

Primary night serves up wins and defeats for gay candidates

Photo: Richard Tisei/flickr.

Photo: Richard Tisei/flickr.

Out LGBT candidates witnessed a series of victories and defeats Tuesday during the last set of primary elections before the general election in November.

In Massachusetts, Maura Healey took one step closer to becoming the nation’s first openly gay attorney general. Healey, who served as assistant attorney general to Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley (who won the Democratic primary for governor last night) and helped spearhead the state’s challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), won 62 percent of the vote against Warren Tolman, who won 38 percent.

Healey is expected to defeat her Republican opponent, John Miller, in November.

Coakley was endorsed by the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund in December, which praised her “inspiring” primary win. 

“The wealth of experience and energy she brings to the table make her a formidable general election candidate, and we are proud to stand with her trailblazing campaign every step of the way,” said Chuck Wolfe, president and CEO of the Victory Fund, in a statement.

Stephen Kerrigan, who is gay, also won the primary for Massachusetts’s Democratic nominee as lieutenant governor with 51 percent of the vote.

But while LGBT Democratic candidates celebrated wins Tuesday, the number of gay Republicans running for the U.S. House of Representatives dropped to two. Dan Innis, who is gay, lost his race to be the Republican nominee for New Hampshire’s 1st Congressional District. Innis came in second with 40 percent of the vote against Frank Guinta, who secured 49 percent of the vote.

With Innis’s defeat, that leaves two vying to become the first openly gay Republican elected to the House: Richard Tisei in Massachusetts and Carl DeMaio in California. No openly gay Republican has ever been elected to Congress, although two Republicans — former Reps. Steve Gunderson of Wisconsin and Jim Kolbe of Arizona — have come out while serving in Congress.

While Tisei, who ran unopposed, celebrated his win as the Republican nominee for Massachusetts’s 6th Congressional District, his race in the general election grew more difficult. Democratic Rep. John Tierney, who has represented the district since 1997, was defeated by Democratic challenger Seth Moulton. Tisei served 26 years in the Massachusetts State Legislature and narrowly lost to Tierney in 2012, 47.1 percent to 48.3 percent. Many credited the win by a vulnerable Tierney, whose wife was mired in a federal tax scandal, to President Barack Obama and Elizabeth Warren being at the top of the 2012 ballot.

Tisei and Innis were both endorsed by the nonpartisan Victory Fund, although the organization has not endorsed DeMaio, who served on the San Diego City Council and is seeking to unseat Democratic Rep. Scott Peters in California’s 52nd Congressional District.

During his victory speech Tuesday night, Moulton, a Marine veteran, vowed to keep the seat held by Tierney in Democratic control.

“I look forward to contrasting our vision with that of Richard Tisei’s,” Moulton said. “We won’t get fresh thinking and new leadership by sending someone to Washington who was first elected to office when I was just six years old.”

In a statement, Tisei shot back, arguing Moulton would vote the same as Tierney and be a “rubberstamp” for a failed direction in Washington.

“This District and our state have suffered in Washington from a lack of leadership,” Tisei stated. “Our issues have been on the back burner for too long and need to be placed front and center in Washington. I believe that I will be able to accomplish great things for this District as a member of the majority party.”

Justin Snow is Metro Weekly's former political editor and White House correspondent. Follow him on Twitter @JustinCSnow.