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Former Stonewall Democrats head runs for Congress
Goodwin seeks 12th District
Columbus--The immediate past president of the Stonewall Democrats of Central Ohio is a candidate for U.S. Congress, becoming Ohio’s fourth openly gay federal candidate.
Russ Goodwin, 53, of Columbus is seeking the 12th District seat currently held by Republican Pat Tiberi. The district includes eastern Columbus, Dublin, Westerville, New Albany, Bexley and Gahanna, along with Delaware County and most of Licking County.
“I’m tired of not having my views and the views of the majority represented in Congress,” said Goodwin.
Tiberi, a former Ohio House majority leader, has held the seat since 2001. He has been a reliable vote for George W. Bush and the House Republicans during his tenure, including racking up a substantial anti-LGBT record.
Goodwin says the district has never been as conservative as Tibieri votes, and with southern Delaware County becoming increasingly Democratic, “there’s potential for him to be replaced.”
In 2006, Tiberi defeated Democratic attorney Robert Shamansky--who held the seat for one term in 1981-82--by 14 points.
Goodwin is a lifelong resident of the district, having kept his voter registration there during his 20 years in the Navy aboard the aircraft carrier USS Independence, where he ran the post office. Following his return in 1997, he moved to the Italian Village neighborhood in Columbus.
In his tenth year selling veterinary supplies, Goodwin says, “Working at Butler is my job. Politics is my passion.”
Goodwin is also active in veterans’ affairs, and has been a trustee of the Franklin County Veterans’ Memorial since 2006.
Most of Goodwin’s LGBT activity has been around political organizing. In addition to being president of the Stonewall Democrats, he also served as its secretary.
He raised money for the 2006 statewide Democratic ticket and 15th District congressional candidate Mary Jo Kilroy. In 2004, Goodwin worked for presidential candidate John Kerry.
Goodwin said the Stonewall Democrats are raising money for him, and will be among his foot soldiers. Goodwin believes that he can get the edge on Tiberi by going door-to-door and having an effective field campaign.
In 2006, Shamansky spent $1.688 million, $1.4 million of which came from his own pocket.
“We’re not going to have the kind of money he did,” Goodwin said. “But we’re going to have boots on the ground. We’re going to knock on the door of every Democrat and every independent in the district.”
Goodwin said the district has one of the highest populations of veterans of any district in the nation, and he believes his activity as a veteran will also give him advantage.
Goodwin said he’s had a few conversations with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in Washington, the arm of the party charged with electing Democrats to the House.
“But their [designated] pick-ups in Ohio are John Boccieri in the 16th District and Mary Jo Kilroy in the 15th District,” said Goodwin, “so we’ll have to see.”
Goodwin has applied to the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, and will attend their national candidate training in February.
He said he will also be campaigning on ending the Iraq occupation and improving services to returning veterans.
“I will be good on LGBT issues,” said Goodwin, “but there are more important things to talk about.”
Goodwin said his being gay is discussed on the campaign trail, but he doesn’t want that to define what his candidacy stands for.
“I am a well read, well informed candidate who just happens to be gay,” Goodwin said. “When I have been out talking to people, marriage and adoption come up with people, but they are non-issues for them.”
Bill Hedrick of Columbus, an attorney who was Ohio’s first gay judicial candidate, is Goodwin’s treasurer. Stonewall Democrats vice president Don Geiner is managing the campaign until a consultant can be hired.
At press time, Goodwin has one primary challenger, Aaron Dagres of Newark.
“I’m not doing this for me,” said Goodwin. “I’m compelled to do this for the good of the country.”
“I was raised that America was the biggest and the best. I am proud to be an American,” Goodwin said. “But I’m not really proud of my government right now.”
“If the 12th District sends me to Congress, I will work tirelessly to make them proud of me, and to restore their faith in government,” Goodwin concluded.
Goodwin is the fourth openly gay Ohioan to run for Congress. He is preceded by Mike Gelpi, who ran for this seat in 1990; Eric Resnick of Canton, this reporter, who sought the 16th District seat in 1996; and Dan Dickman of Mansfield, who ran for the 4th District in 2000.
Goodwin’s campaign website is www.goodwin4congress.com .
If elected, he would become the third openly gay or lesbian member of Congress, joining Reps. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin and Barney Frank of Massachusetts. Ohio’s other openly gay and lesbian officials, all at the local level, include Haskins mayor Kenneth Fallows, Dayton school board member Joe Lacey, Montgomery County common pleas judge Mary Wiseman and city councilors Mark Tumeo in Cleveland Heights, Nickie Antonio in Lakewood and Joe Santiago in Cleveland, along with Wood County commissioner Tim Brown, who came out after being outed on a blog in September.