Six-term Democratic congressman and current Maine gubernatorial candidate Mike Michaud announced in an op-ed this morning that he is gay. He said the announcement, which was given to the Associated Press along with Maine's Portland Press Herald and the Bangor Daily, was in a response to "whisper campaigns, insinuations and push-polls" orchestrated by his opponents:
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 millworker 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. ...
Growing up in a large Franco-American Catholic family, it’s never been in my nature to talk about myself. I write this now merely to let my opponents and the outside interests who fund them know that I am not ashamed of who I am. And if seeing someone from my background, in my position, openly acknowledge the fact that he’s gay makes it a little bit easier for future generations to live their lives openly and without fear, all the better.
I don’t plan to make my personal life or my opponents’ personal lives an issue in this campaign. We’ve had enough negativity in our politics and too many personal attacks over the last few years. We owe it to the people of Maine to focus on how we get our state back on track.
Michaud is hoping to unseat Maine's current governor, Paul LePage, a man who's managed to generate his fair share of national coverage with his penchant for off-color and controversial comments. The latest major polling from Maine suggests a tight three-way race between Michaud, LePage and wealthy businessman Eliot Cutler, an independent who finished second to LePage in the 2010 election. It's unclear what impact the announcement will have on the 2014 race, although Maine voters did approve a gay marriage law a year ago.
If Michaud pulls out the win, he'd be the only openly gay governor in the nation. According to the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, there's currently 538 non-straight men and women holding political office in the country, including a half-dozen U.S. House members and one U.S. senator.