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August 15, 2008

Frank, Baldwin to have
a new gay House colleague

Jared Polis wins Colorado primary after campaigning openly, he is a shoo-in for November

Boulder, Colo.--Unless a majority of voters in Colorado’s second congressional district suddenly switch political affiliation en masse, the United States House of Representatives is set to have its first member elected as an openly gay man.

Jared Polis won the Democratic primary on August 12 with around 1,800 more votes than his nearest competitor, Joan Fitz-Gerald, and over 10,000 more votes than the third-place candidate, Will Shafroth.

In this heavily Democratic district, the primary is more important in selecting a member of Congress than the general election, which is considered a foregone conclusion.

If Polis wins in November, he will join two other out members of Congress, both Democrats.

Barney Frank of Massachusetts came out after first being elected to Congress. Tammy Baldwin, the House’s first out lesbian, was also the first to campaign openly, winning her Wisconsin seat in 1998.

Three other representatives who came out while in office are no longer in Congress. They are Republicans Jim Kolbe of Arizona and Steve Gunderson of Wisconsin, and the House’s first openly gay man, Massachusetts Democrat Gerry Studds, who came out during a 1983 scandal. There has never been an openly gay or lesbian senator.

Polis is seeking the seat being vacated by Rep. Mark Udall, who is running for one of Colorado’s seats in the U.S. Senate.

Polis came out publicly while serving on the Colorado State Board of Education, another elected position.

If he wins the November election, he will also be the first openly gay member of Congress from Colorado.

Polis is an internet millionaire who threw $5 million of his own money into his campaign. He broke a pattern of defeat for Colorado campaigns where candidates spend a great deal of their own money.

That “jinx,” as the Rocky Mountain News calls it, claimed Pete Coors’ campaign for Senate in 2004, among others.

According to the paper, the only other time the “jinx” was beaten was in 2000, when Polis was elected to the board of education.

Polis needs to defeat Scott Starin, the Republican candidate, in the general election. That should not, however, be difficult, since Democrats in the district outnumber Republicans by 32,000 voters.


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