September 5, 2018 at 8:28 am EDT | by Chris Johnson
Gay, trans candidates come up short in Massachusetts primary

Rufus Gifford came up short in his bid for a U.S. House seat. (Photo via YouTube)

Two LGBT candidates running for the Democratic nomination to represent Massachusetts’ 3rd congressional district in the U.S. House came up short Tuesday night.

Although a final winner in the primary for that 10-way race wasn’t called at the time of this posting, both LGBT candidates didn’t have enough votes to be in contention to win the nomination.

With 94 percent of precincts reporting, Rufus Gifford, a gay Democratic fundraiser who served as U.S. ambassador to Denmark in the Obama administration, claimed 15.3 percent of the vote, and Alexandra Chandler, a transgender former naval intelligence officer, had 5.8 percent.

The leading candidates were Daniel Koh, who has worked as a staffer for Boston mayors, and businessperson Lori Trahan. Koh had 21.7 percent of the vote and Trahan had 20.9 percent.

Gifford issued a statement Tuesday night thanking supporters of his campaign and invoking the legacy of former President Obama.

“I am filled with a lot of emotions, but the number one emotion is gratitude,” Gifford said. “I am so incredibly humbled that you were in my corner and were part of this team. You stood by me from that first cold day on the campaign trail last November, and I simply could not have survived this grueling process without you. Throughout this campaign, I found myself reflecting on advice President Obama gave me just before I started my ambassadorship in Denmark. He told me, ‘Go be you. Go represent the country you love, and go be you.'”

Gifford had the backing of the LGBTQ Victory Fund, although Chandler had the backing of transgender groups, including the National Center for Transgender Equality Action Fund and the Trans United Fund.

Had Chandler succeeded, she would have been the first openly transgender person to win a major party nomination to run for the U.S. House and potentially could have been the first openly transgender person in Congress.

Daye Pope, Trans United Fund’s organizing director, said although Chandler came up short in the Massachusetts primary, her campaign was a historic endeavor.

“Although we were hoping for a victory in today’s primary, we’re proud to be on Team Chandler and of the campaign Alexandra ran,” Pope said. “She made her support for equality and equity, #WhoeverYouAre, a cornerstone of her campaign, and she’s been a fighter for working people. Thousands of voters supported a qualified, outstanding trans candidate for public office today, and we’re looking forward to continuing to work with Alexandra to build trans political power in Massachusetts — and to elect trans candidates across the country in the fights to come.”

Another gay candidate, Democratic activist Steve Kerrigan, had also placed a bid for the Democratic nomination in that race, but dropped in February after the death of his mother.

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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