OKLAHOMA CITY For the first time in state history, an openly gay candidate is poised to become a member of the Oklahoma Legislature.
Democrat Al McCaffrey won a three-candidate primary race Tuesday with 51 percent of the vote, avoiding a runoff in the House District 88 seat in the heart of Oklahoma City. No Republicans filed for the seat.
McCaffrey, a longtime Oklahoma City funeral director and a Navy veteran, said he didn’t hide his sexual orientation, but didn’t make it the focus of his campaign.
“I ran as a Democratic candidate in District 88, and I happen to be gay,” McCaffrey said. “Health care, senior care, education, those are the things that really matter to the people.
“The people in Oklahoma want the government out of their social lives, and let’s take care of things that matter to Oklahomans.”
The District 88 seat was held by longtime state Rep. Debbie Blackburn, who’s being forced out of office because of term limits.
McCaffrey said he doesn’t predict any problems working with conservative colleagues in the House.
“Yes, we’re a conservative state and we have conservative issues, but as a father and a grandfather, I have some conservative issues as well,” said McCaffrey, who has three daughters and four grandchildren.
“I’ve talked to several Democratic members, and I believe I can have a working relationship
with every one of them. I believe they are very open about working with me,” he said.
McCaffrey received some support from the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, a Washington, D.C.-based group that supports openly gay candidates and state officials.
“Al’s win is more proof that what fair-minded Americans care about most are issues that directly affect their lives,” said Chuck Wolfe, president and CEO of the Victory Fund. “2006 is shaping up to be a breakthrough year for the Victory Fund.”
The Victory Fund endorsed Oklahoma County Commissioner Jim Roth, who was unopposed in his primary race.
The group also endorsed Rhonda Rudd, an openly gay woman who lost her primary race for the District 46 Oklahoma Senate seat in Oklahoma City.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, July 28, 2006.