March 10, 2010 at 12:47 pm EST | by Chris Johnson
Gay congressional candidate makes DCCC's 'Red to Blue'

Steve Pougnet (Photo courtesy Pougnet for Congress).

A gay candidate running for Congress in California has made the list for Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s “Red to Blue” program, giving his campaign extra momentum.

Steve Pougnet, the gay Democratic mayor of Palm Springs who’s running in California’s 45th congressional district, made the list along with 12 other Democratic candidates running for a seat in Congress.

The DCCC’s “Red to Blue” program highlights Democratic candidates running in competitive congressional races throughout the country where Republican lawmakers currently sit. The distinction gives these Democratic candidates additional opportunities for financial, communications, grassroots, and strategic support.

Being designated as part of the “Red to Blue” program should be a boon for Pougnet, who’s seeking to unseat the incumbent Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R-Calif.). Pougnet is trying to oust a Republican lawmaker in a district that has consistently elected Republicans to Congress since at least 1982.

In a statement, DCCC Chairman Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), said outstanding fundraising efforts from Pougnet and the 12 other candidates earned them a position in the “Red to Blue” program.

“These candidates have come out of the gate strong and the Red to Blue Program will give them the financial and structural edge to be even more competitive in November,” he said. “These candidates are generating excitement back home and are making the case to voters that their commitment to creating jobs and standing up for the middle class is far better than turning back the clock to the failed Bush policies of the past.”

According to the DCCC, the “Red to Blue” program helped raise more than $26 million for the Democratic candidates running for office in 2008.

Should Pougnet be elected, he would be the first person in a same-sex marriage and the first openly gay parent to serve in Congress.

Although Pougnet has been commended for his fundraising efforts, he still trails Bono Mack in funding. According to the latest information on the Federal Election Commission web site, Pougnet has raised nearly $564,000, while Bono Mack has nearly $993,000 in her coffers. It’s typical for an incumbent lawmaker to outraise challengers in an election.

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

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