U.S. Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., talks to campaign volunteers at a Democratic campaign office on primary election day, Tuesday, Aug. 28, in Phoenix. Sinema won the Democratic nomination and now faces Rep. Martha McSally, a Trump supporter, in the general election to decide who will replace outgoing Republican Sen. Jeff Flake, a vocal opponent of Trump. (Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press)

Sinema wins Arizona primary to face Trump supporter in the general election; Florida lesbian wins primary for U.S. House seat

Lisa Keen | Keen News Service
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Another openly-LGBT candidate won her primary bid Tuesday night, Aug. 28, for a seat in Congress, bringing to 12 the number of LGBT candidates for the U.S. House this year.

And U.S. Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, the first openly bisexual member of Congress, won 82 percent of the vote in her Democratic primary to get her party’s nomination for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake.

Sinema’s victory, while widely anticipated, has become a pivotal one for the LGBT community and for Democrats. If she wins in November, Sinema will become the first bisexual elected to the U.S. Senate and only the second openly-LGBT person to be elected to the Senate. And to win the majority, Democrats must win two seats and retain all their existing seats.

Polling indicates that Sinema, a moderate Democrat in a heavily Republican state, is the Democrats’ best shot at winning a new seat in the Senate.

Sinema’s Republican opponent in the general election will be state Sen. Martha McSally. McSally stepped up her attacks against Sinema in the days leading up to primary voting, running an ad characterizing Sinema as a left-wing extremist and dredging up a photo of Sinema wearing a “pink tutu” at an anti-war rally.

McSally told the Arizona Republic that Sinema is attempting to pull off an “extreme makeover” from “her Green Party-pink tutu, proud Prada socialist past … .”

The Republic noted that Sinema’s Congressional opponents in the past also tried to make use of her former association with the Green Party during Ralph Nader’s failed campaign for president in 2000.

The latest newcomer to advance to the general election for a seat in the U.S. House is Lauren Baer, running for the U.S. House seat representing the Palm Beach, Fla., area. Baer, an attorney and former foreign policy advisor to Secretaries of State Hillary Clinton and John Kerry, won the Democratic nomination to run against incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Brian Mast.

Baer took 60 percent of the vote over her primary opponent, a former U.S. Navy JAG officer. She and spouse Emily Meyers have one child.

Other LGBT candidates on the ballot Tuesday night were:

• In Florida, David Richardson, the state’s first openly gay state representative, who fell short of winning the Democratic nomination to run for the U.S. House seat representing Tallahassee. Richardson came in second in a field of six candidates, with 27 percent of the vote.
Winning the nomination was Donna Shalala, former U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services under President Clinton, with 30 percent. She seeks to fill the seat being vacated by pro-gay Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.

• In Florida, Gina Sosa, a businesswoman and Log Cabin Republicans member, who lost her bid for the Republican nomination for the U.S. House seat representing the Miami-Dade area. She was one of nine candidates for the GOP nomination. She received less than 2 percent of the vote.

• In Arizona, Matt Heinz, who lost his second attempt for a Democratic nomination for the U.S. House.

• In Arizona, Daniel Hernandez Jr., who easily placed first in the Democratic Primary to advance to the general election in his bid to return to the state House. Hernandez was a political intern in 2011 in the office of U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords when a gunman shot her and others at a home district event. Hernandez was credited with saving Giffords’ life, when he rushed to her aid during the shooting.
Hernandez represents the state house district that covers parts of Pima and Santa Cruz.

• In Arizona, Andres Cano, who was the top vote-getter in his Democratic Primary race and will advance to the general election in the race for the state house district that includes parts of Pima.

• In Arizona, Democratic Primary candidate Cesar Chavez, who advanced to the general election in the race for the state house covering the district west of Phoenix.

(In Arizona primary elections for the state legislature, the top two vote-getters in each party advance to the general election.)
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