November 9, 2011 at 10:39 am EDT | by Chris Johnson
Gay intern credited as hero wins school board race

(Photo courtesy of Hernandez)

The gay intern credited with saving the life of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was among those claiming victory amid local races that were decided on Tuesday throughout the country.

Daniel Hernandez, a University of Arizona graduate in political science, was elected to the Pima County school board in his hometown of Tucson, Ariz. Hernandez captured 62 percent of the vote in the race, while his opponent Sherrie Burdic took 36 percent of the vote.

Hernandez is credited with providing the first aid that saved the life of Giffords (D-Ariz.) after a deadly shooting January in Tuczon, Ariz., during a town hall event. The lawmaker was among the 20 people who were shot allegedly by 22-year-old gunman Jared Loughlin. Five died at the scene and a 9-year-old girl died at the hospital.

After hearing gunshots, Hernandez rushed to Giffords, found the wounded lawmaker and propped her up against his chest to keep her from asphyxiating on her own blood. Once she was able to breathe again, Hernandez applied pressure to stem the blood loss as much as possible. Medics later assumed care of Giffords and took her to the University Medical Center in Arizona, where she slowly recovered.

At the subsequent memorial service in Tuczon, President Obama referred to Hernandez as a “hero” because he “ran through the chaos to minister to your boss, and tended to her wounds and helped keep her alive.” The White House invited Hernandez — along with his father, Danny Hernandez, Sr., — to sit alongside first lady Michelle Obama during the State of the Union address in January.

Hernandez was among the 75 openly gay candidates endorsed by the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund whose races were decided on Tuesday. At least 53 of these candidates claimed victory.

Denis Dison, a Victory Fund spokesperson, said, “Daniel shies away from the label ‘hero,’ even though he was called one by the president of the United States in front of a national television audience. But he really deserves it, and the fact that he’s decided to enter public service as a young, openly gay man is another example of his sense of duty and civic responsibility.”

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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