The First Openly Gay Governor?

Yesterday, Congressman Mike Michaud, the frontrunner for governor of Maine, came out:

I wasn’t surprised to learn about the whisper campaigns, insinuations and push-polls some of the people opposed to my candidacy have been using to raise questions about my personal life. They want people to question whether I am gay.

Allow me to save them the trouble with a simple, honest answer: “Yes I am. But why should it matter?”

That may seem like a big announcement to some people. For me, it’s just a part of who I am, as much as being a third-generation mill worker or a lifelong Mainer. One thing I do know is that it has nothing to do with my ability to lead the state of Maine.

Mark Joseph Stern thinks that “Michaud’s announcement isn’t likely to sink him—or boost him”:

In 2012, Maine voters approved same-sex marriage, with 53 percent of voters on board, in a historic statewide referendum. (Mainers still support marriage equality by that same margin.) Most of the “no” votes on the referendum came from Michaud’sconservative-leaning congressional district, the second most rural in America, while the “yes” votes sprang mostly from the urban, coastal pockets in the state’s 1st Congressional District. That shouldn’t be a problem for Michaud: In the governor’s race, the congressman will be vying for these urban votes in addition to his home district’s votes. These pro-gay votes are likely to outweigh any anti-gay votes from Maine’s rural interior.

If Michaud’s sexuality won’t be a problem for him, it almost certainly will be for Maine’s current Tea Party-backed Gov. Paul LePage. LePage, a social conservative, is known for his churlish ad libs, including a possible anal rape joke about a Democratic state senator.

Keith Wagstaff adds:

[R]oughly one third of America still wouldn’t vote for a candidate who was openly gay. The trend, however, is clear: Americans are more willing to accept LGBT politicians now than they ever have been before. Michaud is betting that those changing attitudes will send him to the governor’s mansion in Maine. Other potential Senate and gubernatorial candidates in the LGBT community will be watching closely.