Maine’s Mike Michaud has a good chance to become the first openly gay governor elected to office in the U.S. The Democrat and U.S. Representative came out a year ago, in part to preempt a whispering campaign about his sexuality.
You’d think that gay donors would be falling all over themselves to help Michaud make history, particularly since he’s facing Paul LePage, a Tea Party favorite. To give you a sense of what LePage is like, he once said a Democratic state representative “claims to be for the people but he’s the first one to give it to the people without providing Vaseline.”
Given such a stark choice, you’d think the lavender dollars would be flooding into Michaud’s campaign coffers.
You’d be wrong.
As it turns out, only one of the 32 activists and donors Human Rights Campaign board has contributed to Michaud’s campaign: Tim Gill, who has, to his credit, given the maximum.
Politico compiled a list of about 170 LGBT activists and donors, including people who bundled donations for the Obama campaign. To date that group has given Michaud a mere $19,600. Compare that to the 2012 Senate campaign for Tammy Baldwin, which collected $170,700 from the same group.
Steve Elmendorf, the chairman of the Victory Fund, the PAC that collects money for LGBT candidates, told Politico that Michaud “not a well-known figure in the community, obviously, because he wasn’t out.” (In fact, when Michaud came out, it caught some of the other openly gay members of Congress by surprise.) Michaud doesn’t have the deep connections to tap that other LGBT candidates, like Baldwin, can.
Michaud is a low-key candidate, and, putting aside the fact that he’s only recently out, has never been a high-visibility figure in D.C. Still, he’s running in a state where the religious right has been a strong (and obnoxious) presence, and his victory would break new ground for other LGBT candidates. Campaign contributions would be especially helpful, because the three-way race is tight. (The third candidate, attorney Eliot Cutler, is likely to siphon liberal votes from Michaud.)
Michaud is getting some help from the White House. Michele Obama will be stumping for Michaud in early October. Still, within the LGBT establishment, there seems to be more excitement about a long-shot candidate to replace retiring Attorney General Eric Holder: Jenny Durkan, a lesbian who is a U.S. attorney.
While that would be quite a milestone, Michaud is a lot closer to securing his goal. A little help from family–even if they are new-found–would go a long way.
Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this article misspelled the third candidate, his name is Eliot Cutler.