Democrat Chris Pappas, an openly gay candidate for New Hampshire’s 1st Congressional District, has won his party’s primary for an open seat in Congress, adding to the ranks of openly LGBTQ candidates seeking office.
Pappas won an 11-way race with 42% of the vote, besting his nearest competitor and chief rival, Maura Sullivan, by 12 points.
The two had sparred earlier this week over a mailer sent out by the Sullivan campaign that some LGBTQ groups believed was a homophobic “dog whistle” calling into question whether Pappas had the “backbone” to stand up against right-wing special interest groups seeking to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
Should he win in November, Pappas will make history as the first openly LGBTQ person elected to Congress from New Hampshire. He now joins 11 other Victory Fund-endorsed candidates for Congress, plus five other non-endorsed LGBTQ individuals who won their primaries, who will appear on the ballot in November — more than at any time in history.
“Chris Pappas continues to smash long-standing political barriers for LGBTQ New Hampshirites — and his victory is emblematic of the pipeline of LGBTQ leaders who continue to rise through the ranks to better serve their constituents,” Annise Parker, the president and CEO of the LGBTQ Victory Fund, said in a statement.
“Democratic primary voters are demanding authentic, values-driven leaders who prioritize policies over politics — and they found that leader in Chris. He was born and raised in the district, is a fierce advocate for fairness and equality, and will fight tirelessly to push forward policies that advance those principles,” Parker added. “We need change in Washington, and a November victory for Chris is critical to securing a pro-equality majority in the next U.S. Congress.”
Pappas, the co-owner of a family restaurant business and a member of the Executive Council of New Hampshire, pulled off the victory despite being outspent 3-to-1 on the airwaves. He has made campaign finances reform, health care, and support for reproductive rights major parts of his platform as he seeks the seat being vacated by Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter.
In his victory speech, Pappas shared the stories of several 1st District residents he had met on the campaign trail, including an LGBTQ student in Manchester, saying he hoped his victory would allow her to understand that “you, too, are welcome here, and regardless of who you are or who you love, the sky’s the limit.”
“At the end of the day this election is about what we can accomplish and who we are,” Pappas said. “We need to say loudly and clearly this fall that we don’t live in Donald Trump’s America, this country still belongs to all of us.”