Trevor Thomas, a gay communications professional who has worked for both the Human Rights Campaign and Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, is running for Congress in his hometown.
Thomas has hired political consultant Mark Mellman, who is conducting polling on Thomas’ chances in the western Michigan 3rd District, according to the Michigan-based “Down with Tyranny” blog.
“The first in his family to go to college, Thomas graduated from Grand Valley State University. He worked as a reporter at WGVU-AM (NPR) and a news producer at WOOD-TV 8 (NBC) for five years, before joining Governor Jennifer Granholm’s successful re-election campaign in 2006 and serving in her executive office,” Thomas’ announcement read.
Thomas announced this morning via tweet that he intends to challenge incumbent Republican Justin Amash, who is identified with the Tea Party.
Thomas followed his tweet with a post on DailyKos announcing his candidacy.
“My name is Trevor Thomas, a West Michigan native who has spent the past 10 years standing up for fairness, equality, and opportunity.”
“I think it is terrific that Trevor Thomas is running for Congress, a young, tenacious, rising star in the progressive movement and Democratic Party,” Democratic activist, Chris Massicotte told the Blade, Monday. “That being said, this is what some call the Bible Belt of Michigan and Trevor being openly gay and having worked in the movement for so long could hurt him. But it is my opinion that the more openly LGBT people who run for office wherever and at all levels the better. And I do think there could be a path to victory here.”
Massicotte noted, however, there are factors working against Thomas, in a district where a young, 31 year-old incumbent defeated four challengers in a 2010 primary, and went on to defeat the Democratic opponent by 25 points. In addition, the 3rd District is mostly Republican — though trending more Democratic after redistricting. However, with attitudes changing nationally, and the Amash campaign in a great deal of debt, Massicotte sees an opportunity for Thomas.
“If Trevor can raise some money early and have a good 2nd quarter fundraising report, and makes the right logistical decisions for his campaign he will be well positioned to connect with voters who are hurting from a lack of jobs and are not happy with Congress in general.”
Thomas is eager to prove the skeptics wrong.
“I was born and raised in the Grand Rapids area,” Thomas told the Blade on Monday. “We believe [Amash] doesn’t stand for the values that really represent west Michigan, specifically as someone who positions himself as a Tea Party leader turned libertarian leader and figurehead. I personally think that person is out of touch and we’re going to give voters a real choice come November.”
Thomas said the fact that he is gay will not be a factor in a race for a House seat in a state that topped the nation in unemployment claims and foreclosures at the height of the recession.
“I think our race is unique with the aspect that we are not California, or Madison, or Boulder and parts of New England, what we’re trying to do here is be able to say ‘we’re just like everyone else here and we’re trying to make it,” Thomas said. “Many of us are coming from automotive backgrounds and our parents have worked on the line. That is the life we know.”
Thomas said that Rep. Amash is out of touch with typical Michigan voters.
“Those who are fighting against policies like the payroll tax cut extension and unemployment don’t understand where our state is now especially in terms of jobs and fairness and opportunity,” Thomas said.
Upon his announcement, Thomas’ campaign released this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1hJi8rLT8k0
Thomas lived and worked in Washington, D.C. for several years during his tenure at HRC and SLDN.
“We believe we can win,” Thomas told the Blade. “If [the voters of west Michigan] take time to be able to give us a fair look and see what we’re trying to accomplish… they’ll know we made the right decision. We’re in this. We’re going to win.”